Floor Covering Inspections – Analysis of Problems and Failures

The Certified Inspector investigates and determines the cause/s of the complaint/s with
tests and procedures and provides an unbiased report based on observations, industry
standards, and test results to the commissioning party only.

Inspection – Failure analysis for Carpet – Hardwood – Laminate – Tile – Resilient –
Solid Surface – LVP – LUXURY VINYL PRODUCTS – Concrete

Issues – Responsible party – Installation – Manufacturing – Locally caused – Site Related
– Environment, or Inherent Characteristics.

Hardwood – Solid – Engineered – Parquet

Failure analysis for hardwood flooring complaints – A few listed issues are: Crowning –
delamination – Color blend – End lifting – Finish peeling – Gloss variations – Poor bond
– Mechanical fastening failures – Indentations – Cupping – Gaps – Splits – Checks –
Cracks – Board damage – Finish problems – Adhesive failure – Insect infestation –
Mineral streaks – Bark pockets – Rot – Warp – Premature wear – Sand and finish
problems – Machine burn – Edge defects – Raised grain – Splinters – Light ends – Out of
square – Windshake – Crooks – Buckling – Overwood – Bond Failure – Dish out –
Squeaky floors – Discoloration – Pin holes – Panelization – Chatter marks – Sticker stain
– Bleed back – Bubbles – Alligatoring – Applicator streaks – sheen variation – squeaking
– Greenhouse effect – Picture framing (Halo) – Cratering – Peeling – Cloudy finish –
Fisheyes – Unlevel substrates – Water damage – Improper expansion spacing – Locked
in – Out of rack – Shipping and/or handling damage – Failure to inspect and cull –
Moisture damage – Crawl space requirements – Improper staggering/offset – adhesive
residue – bond failure – improper adhesive – inappropriate trowel notch – Hollow tiles –
Animal related issues – Failure to document and moisture test – Flatness variations.

Carpet – Residential – Commercial

Carpet Problems

Carpet Problems – To name a few: Sidematch/Shade variance at adjoining seams –
Sprouted tufts/loops – Lengthwise streaks – Widthwise bands, – Wear – Pooling –
conditions/watermarking – Dye crocking – Texture retention – Pile crushing – Fold bands
– Fuzzing – Shedding – Filtration soiling – Wrinkles – Ripples – Buckles – Carpet odors
– Texture retention – Fading – Color loss – Yarn voids – Pulled rows/zippering –
Delamination – Prominent seam visibility – Poor seam construction – Fraying at
transitions – Gapped seam/s – Shift Marks – Slack twist yarn – Foreign yarn – Raveling –
Mold – Mildew – Alkali – Pattern wiggle -.Oil bands – Yarn lubricant – Poor
Workmanship – Mis-cuts – Razor cuts – UV degradation – Tuft bind issues – Seam
Sealing per CRI 104 and CRI 105.

The Carpet and Rug Institute – Standard for Installation of Residential Carpet, CRI 105 (Residential) is the industry minimum residential installation standards for installers and retailers with principles and workmanship standards for residential installation of floor covering. This includes guidelines for floor preparation and installation in special areas, diagrams and charts. Responsibilities for the manufacturer, installer, dealer, builder or general contractor, and consumer are listed.

Commercial Carpet

Standard for Installation Specification of Commercial Carpet, CRI 104 is the industry minimum commercial installation standard. A detailed outline of proper procedures and terminology used in specification writing, planning, layout, and installation. This includes guidelines for floor preparation and installation in special areas, diagrams and charts. Good for specification writers and building owners.

Laminate – Plank – Tile

Failure analysis for laminate flooring complaints – A few listed issues are: Cupping – Seam peaking – Gapping – Chips – Dents – Scratches – Squeaking – Proud edges – Expansion – Tenting – Water damage – Fading – Seam swell – Unlevel substrates – Improper underlayment – No moisture barrier – Improper expansion spacing – Locked in – Out of rack – Tapping block damage – Shipping and/or handling damage – Failure to inspect and cull – Chipped planks – Sealant issues – Failure to undercut casings and jambs – Crawl space requirements – Improper underlayment – Buckling – Failure to utilize T-moldings when required – Flatness variations – improper Staggering/offset – Tapping block damage – Chair damage – Scratching – Scuffing – Glue haze or residue – Dropped object damage – Appliance leaks – Animal related issues – Improperly glued seams/where applicable – Moisture damage – Sheen variation – Micro chipping – Chatter marks – Delamination – Concave bowing – Voids – Missing wear layer and imperfections – Color deviation – Failure to moisture test and document.

Tile – Ceramic – Porcelain – Marble – Granite – Stone – Glass – Slate

Failure analysis for tile floorings complaints include – Hollow tiles – Cracking tile – Warpage – Inherent Characteristic’s – Irregular grout widths – Crazing – Out of square – Wavy – Lippage – Tile explosion – Shading variances – Reflective cracking – Chips – Bubbles – Residue – Pitting – Grout voids – Grout discoloration – Crumbling grout – Efflorescence – Vapor transmission – Movement joints – Cleaning issues – Reflective grid lines – Sealing – Substrate irregularities – Sanded grout /unsanded grout – Substrate preparation.

Resilient – Vinyl – Linoleum – Rubber – VCT – LVP – Luxury Vinyl Products – Cork

Resilient Floors – Resilient flooring includes Sheet Vinyl – Vinyl composition tile, Vinyl tile – Linoleum Tile & sheet flooring – Rubber tile and sheet flooring – Cork tile and sheet flooring. Resilient floors have a relatively firm surface, yet characteristically have “give” and “bounce back” to their original surface profile from the weight of objects that compress its surface. It has long been the most popular hard surface flooring in the United States.

Issues – to name a few are: – Flatness variations – Bond failure – Plasticizer migration – Blisters – Substrate telegraphing – Sub floor contamination – Poor workmanship – Seam contamination – Yellowing – Failure to reverse sheets when required – Improper adhesive – Improper trowel notch – Bubbles – Air pockets – Incorrect set up of adhesive/flash off – Improper seaming procedures and pattern alignment. Failures due to moisture vapor transmission from the substrate – Failure to moisture test and document.

Examples – of resilient floors can be found in every setting imaginable from residential to commercial applications. A few are Airports – Laboratories – Rest rooms – Computer rooms – Super markets – Drug stores – Lobbies – Storage areas, Spas, Dormitories – Animal Hospitals – Schools, Health Care Facilities – Retail Shops and Restaurants.

Resilient flooring can be easily cleaned and does not tend to trap dust, which when combined with moisture, can produce microbial contamination.

“Concrete Moisture Testing” Inspections – Solutions

Documented Moisture Testing: Manufacturer’s require documented moisture testing, prior to installation. Without documentation there is no verification the flooring was installed within the manufacturer’s requirements. “If You Don’t” “Document it, it Never Happened”

All tests give a result – at the time the test is done. And in general give you the ability to start or stop a job – these tests do not give a permanent condition of your substrate merely a “at the time the test was performed” indication.

Before moisture testing begins, the concrete slab must be a MINIMUM of 30 days old. Testing of slabs less than 30 days old can produce inaccurate, unreliable results. PH testing should be done on all slabs regardless of age.

Testing can be performed by field testing using electronic resistance meters and the ASTM Test method F 1869–04 (calcium chloride) and ASTM F 2170-02 (in situ Probes).

ASTM F 1869, “Standard Test Method for Measuring Moisture Vapor Emission Rate of Concrete Subfloor Using Anhydrous Calcium Chloride”, was standardized in the 1990s by the Subcommittee on Practices of the Committee on Resilient Floor Coverings. Its development, goes back to the 1950s and the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Then it was known as the RMA Moisture Test, or the Quantitative Anhydrous Calcium Chloride Test.

Moisture is not evenly distributed throughout a slab, and changing environmental conditions cause moisture to move into or out of the slab.

There are a variety of moisture sealants available on the market that will reduce excessive moisture vapor transmission to safe levels in the slab.


This white paper(click here) is designed to provide general contractors, owners and architects with reliable assessments of substrate conditions. In light of the many changes in floor coverings and substrates in recent years, we recognize that flooring contractors or installers may not be the ones most qualified to determine the suitability of substrates for floor covering materials.
Because there is broad accepted precedent in the construction industry for independent testing, it is recommended using Certified independent testing agencies to test for vapor emissions and alkalinity such as: