The World is Changing

By Lee Senter

I have had the opportunity to perform some flooring quotes over the last month. I seem to run into exceptionally nice people who seem to have done some homework on choosing their replacement floor covering.

You have to wonder where these seemingly intelligent people are doing their research. I am being asked, almost by everyone, to quote on putting a floating floor on a basement concrete slab that has no subfloor and no vapour barrier.

I try and explain to the clients that the floating floor they are looking at must be on a flat, level surface and they always say the same thing — “why did the last two companies not say it’s a problem?” Now, we are talking about a flooring substrate that you can see with your naked eye is nowhere near being flat.

Next, we look at the issue of moisture coming out of the concrete and what products are affected poorly by moisture in concrete. Again, the clients seemingly criticize me for bringing up a subject that the other quotes did not take into consideration.

One of the quotes I went to see was for an obviously wet concrete substrate. When we asked to perform an in-situ relative humidity test by installing three probes and come back the next day the client thought I was crazy. I guess even their “Googling” could not reveal why this was necessary.

Now I know many of these situations are on slab on grade, or below grade but there are also inherent issues with flooring installations on the upper floors as well. For example, I am watching products fail in sun all the time.

So, while I was covering for my employees who are on vacation, I was doing these sales calls and covering operations issues as well. At one of the reinstalls we were doing, my guys ran out of rebond underlay. I told them to run down to Home Depot and get some. They called me from Home Depot and told me that there was no underpad there. They went on to say that, as a matter of fact, this Home Depot no longer carried carpet at all. They did not even have display boards. They went to another Home Depot with the same results.

I was incredulous. How could one of the largest retailers of carpet not be selling it anymore? I went to a larger Home Depot here in Toronto to see for myself. Well lo and behold, no rolls of carpet or underpad! I asked the sales associate and they told me carpet is all special order and would take two to four weeks to arrive.

Going back to the ideas presented at the beginning of this column, what if we discover that the only real choice for this basement is ceramics or carpet if I do not want to put in a sub floor? What if the ability for DIYers to install a builder’s-grade carpet in a basement is going away for many?

I asked industry experts what was going on here and they were all as surprised as me about this absence of carpet. I googled the subject and saw that in September 2019, Home Depot banned all carpets that contained PFAS chemistries. Lowe’s followed suit at the end of October 2019.

But, according to the large carpet manufacturers, their products are PFAS-free. Yes, the world is changing, but it appears to be ruled more than ever by — style and colour.

We as an industry have to stop being so greedy that we sell flooring that is doomed to fail in places like basements. Carpet may not be the favourite choice of many. But there are circumstances where carpet is a great choice and for some reason, this choice is slowly but surely being harder to find.

If your group or company would like to offer free informational webinars on proper installation of flooring products, please contact us at the CFCRA and we will help spread the word. If we do not set the record straight, who will?

The Canadian Flooring Cleaning and Restoration Association (CFCRA) was preceded by the Flooring Institute of Ontario (FIO), a not-for-profit organization which proudly served the needs of flooring industry professionals in Ontario since 1962.

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