20 / BUILDING DIALOGUE / DECEMBER 2023 F loor preparation is the crucial initial step in the floor- ing installation process, where the condition of ex- isting flooring is assessed to ensure it is suitable for the chosen flooring ma- terial. This involves tasks such as cleaning, leveling, and repairing the sub- strate to create a smooth and stable surface. Floor prep is the founda- tion upon which the beauty, durability and longevity of flooring is built, and is often considered the unsung hero of the construc- tion industry. It’s a task that may not garner much at- tention, but its significance cannot be over- stated. Without proper floor preparation, the final installation can suffer from imperfections, varia- tions in the subfloor and even safety hazards. In this ar- ticle, we will explore the critical role of floor preparation in construction and how it can make or break a project. n The unseen imperfections. Imagine a pristine room with brand-new flooring. At first glance, everything ap- pears perfect, but under certain lighting conditions, im- perfections become glaringly obvious. Resilient flooring, in particular, has a knack for magnifying even the tiniest of flaws in the subfloor. A speck of sand can resemble a pebble, ruining the aesthetic appeal. Porcelain tile spec- ifications, with their ever-increasing sizes, exacerbate this issue. High and low spots in the subfloor can lead to lippage at joints, not only making the installation look bad but also creating potential trip and fall hazards. Even carpet, known for its forgiving nature, can reveal imperfections in the floor surface. n Division discrepancies. In new construction proj- ects, the differences between Division 3 (concrete) and Division 9 (finishes) can be as vast as the Grand Canyon. Many specifications call for the application of curing compounds on freshly poured concrete slabs, which serve the purpose of curing the concrete but can hinder the bonding of flooring adhesives and thinset. Conse- quently, flooring subcontractors often find themselves in the position of hav- ing to scarify or bead blast the concrete to open the pores and enable proper adhesion, a crucial factor for a warrant- able installation. Additionally, Division 3 specifica- tions may include instructions for power troweling or steel troweling the new concrete, resulting in a burnished, nonporous surface. And again, because most adhesives and thinsets require a porous substrate for a successful bond, failing to achieve this can put the in- stallation warranty at risk. n The path to quality assurance. Moisture testing may seem like some- thing that only needs to be done on a new concrete substrate, but as many are realizing, this is a critical part of Making Place Crucial Role of Floor Prep in Construction: A Path to Quality Andy Fisher Vice President, Partner Floorz, an Elements Studio A pristine result for this large-format tile installation was achieved with zero lippage because self-leveling floor preparation occurred. Extensive floor preparation was required for this project that featured radiant heating under the large format tile.