New Group Attacks Floor Moisture Issues
Concrete flooring failure costs at least $1 billion annually
By Tudor Hampton in Chicago

(Photo courtesy of CDL)

A new task force of 40 members including contractors, architects, engineers, scientists, sealant manufacturers and flooring producers convened for the first time April 17-18 in Chicago in order to better understand how moisture develops on concrete floors and how it can be controlled.

"These issues are starting to cost concrete guys a lot of money," says Tommy Ruttura, president of Ruttura & Sons Construction Co., Farmingdale, N.Y., and president of American Society of Concrete Contractors. Ruttura says that stakeholders have not yet found any groundbreaking solutions as a result of the meeting. But he believes the multi-disciplinary approach will help ease a problem that costs an estimated $1 billion a year in callbacks, claims, remediation and litigation each year.

STICKY Team hopes for collective action.

"Instead of being adversaries, we're all talking together to see how we can solve this problem," says Howard Kanare, senior principal scientist at Construction Technology Laboratories Inc., Skokie, Ill., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Portland Cement Association. "Finally, we've gone from finger-pointing to a collective thought process," says Ray Thompson, a representative of Armstrong World Industries, Lancaster, Pa.

The group's members identified cost-cutting methods on fast-track construction projects as primary contributors to concrete moisture problems. "Flooring manufacturers are coming to us wanting warranties" that are considerably stronger regarding vapor pressure, says Wally Giambastiani, manager of technical sales and service for W.F. Taylor Adhesives, Dalton, Ga. "Because of fast-track construction, they are trying to compensate for it by putting warranties in place that aren't necessarily going to work."

Bruce Suprenant, vice president of engineering and technical services for specialty contractor Baker Concrete Construction, Monroe, Ohio, agrees, adding that architects and engineers no longer can design independently of each other. "We want a compatibility check," he says.

The forum, called the Inter-Industry Working Group on Concrete Floor Issues, is expected to meet again late this year or early next year.

Producer Protests Pentagon Sealant Specs
Investigates performance claims
By David Geer

Upset that a German sealant was specified for the Pentagon renovation in light of German opposition to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) is pressing the Dept. of Defense to award a $1.1-million contract to ChemMasters Specialty Construction Products, a domestic coatings producer based in his hometown of Madison, Ohio.

WEDGED Renovation awaits evaluation of competing coatings. (Photo courtesy of Pentagon Renovation Program)

DOD is in the middle of a top-to-bottom overhaul of the Pentagon, the first major renovation of the nearly 60-year-old building. The project, which is being performed in wedges, began in 1993 and is expected to wrap in 2010, costing $3 billion. Tadjer, Cohen and Edelson (TCE), Silver Spring, Md., the structural engineer working for prime contractor Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Greeley, Colo., for Wedges 2-5, specified Keim Concretal, a corrosion-inhibitor supplied by The Cohalan Co./Keim Mineral Systems, Lewes, Del. Cohalan Co., an independent U.S. firm, uses in its coatings mineral ingredients from Keimfarben GmbH of Germany. TCE says that buildings coated with Keim products "are still in good condition after 75 to 100 years," says Pentagon Renovation Program spokesman Brett Eaton.

Hank Vavrik, president of ChemMasters, says his firm approached LaTourette because TCE "would not put in its specification requirements ‘Keim's product or its equivalent.'" According to Vavrik, the phrase "or its equivalent" would have permitted the contractor to opt for ChemMasters' product. However, a Pentagon Renovation Program report dated March 27 says the ChemMasters system "is not technically comparable."

Eaton says an independent analysis was conducted to review the products and the results will be released shortly. If it is found that the Keim product "was not technically superior," it is possible there would be a switch to ChemMasters' product. "But I don't think that is the case," Eaton says.