Committees Tackle Important Construction Challenges

By Chris Maskell

Bringing attention to some of the issues that plague us as floor coverers and helping to find solutions remains one of NFCA’s main objectives. One way we do this is by inviting industry experts from around the country and from other related industries to participate on teams tasked with addressing some of the long-standing problems we know so well, yet still don’t fully understand — issues that cost us money, delay projects and let down our clients.

One of the first requirements for a committee representing a cross section of the bigger construction picture is recognizing that as individuals we all know our stuff pretty well, but as far as knowing the pressure points of the next related trade and why they do what they do, that can be somewhat of a mystery.

The whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. And with that in mind, three committees have been formed to address some ongoing issues in our industry.

The Hydraulic Cement Underlayment Committee
Fourteen experts from six industries (architectural, structural engineering, general contractor, flooring contractor, related manufacturing, concrete finishing) are reviewing the problem of slab flatness and ensuring alignment between the concrete trade’s work and floor coverings. This is an important part of any specification and is required to address a suspended slab’s natural tendency to sag and loose planarity over the first few month’s post pour. One-eighth inch over 10 feet is easily achieved if planned and budgeted for…near impossible if not.

It has been a fascinating deep dive into the topic, learning how the problem manifests differently for all involved. The goal is to find a solution that works for everyone and results in slab acceptance by the floor covering installer (as opposed to rejection).

The Acoustics Committee
For decades, acoustical issues in buildings have prompted questions from homeowners to the floor covering trade such as why new hard surface flooring is so noisy and what can be done to muffle sound transference. Their high expectations that our industry can solve such noise issues are only rivalled by the high IIC and STC ratings that mislead them in the first place!

The answer to the issue ultimately lies with the architect and the design of the building involved, not with a thin foam underlay. As a flooring salesperson faced with another frustrated homeowner dealing with an angry neighbour, all you can do is reset expectations. For property managers and strata councils, the advice is often to add restrictions to bylaws (for example, require that condo owners cover 60 percent of any new hard surface flooring with area rugs). This committee will work to highlight pain points and assemble industry-approved information that will help demystify the topic, set best practices and make solutions available where possible to all interested parties involved in both new builds and the renovation sector.

The Education Committee
Education. Education. Education. Industry is a revolving door of retiring folks, new entrants, and everyone in between with a hunger for knowledge.

Supporting continuous, accessible learning is central to this committee’s work. Made up of both flooring contractors and manufacturers, the group is tasked with building a resource library of educational pieces in a variety of formats that get to the meat and potatoes of topics that based on a recent member’s survey, are most important to them.

Much of what goes wrong in our industry isn’t that complicated — it’s just that there is a lot of information to process and disseminate. For example, to make money these days, regardless of your role, you need to move fast from scenario to scenario, juggling multiple contracts. Managing clients requires a high level of confidence when delivering bad news that might delay a project. You need to be able to back it up in the moment and look them in the eye when you do it. This is where education is so valuable, because confidence not only sells, it inspires trust, strengthens relationships and reputations, and helps to avoid the next claim.

The National Floor Covering Association (NFCA) promotes industry standards for resilient, carpet, hardwood, laminate, cork and bamboo floor covering installations.

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