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How Do You Test for Moisture in Your Floors?

In our last post, we talked about having the ability to understand why moisture causes failures in your flooring projects.

There are multiple ways for you to test whether or how much moisture might affect your finished floor. The simplest and most inexpensive way to see if you need to be concerned with moisture is to conduct what we call a “MAT TEST.”

All you need is a non-breathable material (that will cover at least 6 square feet) that you can lay over the concrete for a minimum of 24 hours. For example, place a rubber entrance mat or some polyethylene film (should be at least 6 mil thickness) in the area you want tested and seal the edges with a moisture-resistant tape. If after 24 hours there is moisture underneath your test area or the color of the concrete is darker than the exposed slab, you’ve got a moisture problem that needs to be quantified.


Vaprecision Test Kit Shown

To quantify the level of moisture, there are two primary tests recognized by most flooring manufacturers: Calcium Chloride tests, which measure the amount of Moisture Vapor Emission (MVE) and Relative Humidity (RH) testing (which we’ll cover in our next post).

Calcium chloride tests measure the amount of moisture vapor that moves through 1,000 square feet of slab in a 24 hour period. Results are expressed in pounds per thousand square feet per 24 hours. Thus, if you get a calcium chloride reading of 7.5 pounds, it means that within a 24 hour period, there is moisture vapor (water in gas form) moving through the slab, which if condensed into actual water, would weigh 7.5 pounds. The results of this test would often be expressed as “7.5 pounds of MVE.”

For most manufacturers of non-breathable flooring products like homogeneous vinyls and rubber, the maximum allowed is 3.0 pounds of MVE. Many of the LVT and other resilient floor manufacturers will allow up to 5.0 pounds of MVE. Since most carpet is breathable, MVE isn’t really a concern. Any time you get readings higher than 3 lbs, you MUST check with the floor manufacturer (or a really good commercial flooring contractor) so you don’t install flooring in an environment that will void any warranties.  The good news is that there IS a solution!

If you have a question about any flooring product’s moisture tolerance, call us! Remember that #FloorTech, with over 50 years’ experience, has likely already dealt with and solved the exact same issue you may be facing!


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