Carl Bredl has been in the flooring industry for 35 years and the depth of his experience is impressive. Beginning as a union installer in 1985, he started with carpet, and eventually ventured into hard surfaces, including vinyls, rubber, wood, laminate, concrete repair, epoxy mitigation systems, and resinous flooring. He’s known as “The Moisture Testing Guy” and has been inspecting commercial floors since the mid 1990’s. Even with over three decades of industry expertise, Carl humbly admits, “I still learn something new every day. I’m always meeting new people, and learning something new about what we do and how we do things.” He adds, “It’s why I get up every morning.”
Stay on Top of Flooring Issues from the Start.
As an inspector, Carl typically gets called after an installation when something has gone wrong with a floor. More and more customers, however, have started asking for his expertise at the beginning of a project. Carl credits that change to what the industry as a whole is doing to provide relevant, timely, and valuable information to customers.
He notes, “As they become better educated, they also become more proactive.”
Carl believes recognizing subfloor issues should start with salespeople and project managers by having them perform on-site walk throughs before bidding on jobs. Discovering problems at this stage benefits everyone involved, from the GC down to the end user. It can also save time, labor, money, and a lot of frustration.
Prior to and during the flooring installation, Carl notes it’s important to maintain consistent indoor environmental conditions to achieve a successful outcome. Situations like not having windows installed or not having HVAC units up and running are missteps that can lead to problems with the floor in the future. “We all get caught up in checking off a box and moving on, taking care of one thing and moving on to the next.”
But, as he states, “While that cycle has become the norm, it can lead to missing a lot of the details, especially in the long term and that can get you into trouble.”
Carl also offers this advice: take a thermo-hygrometer, surface temperature gauge and pH paper to all job sites when you’re making a site visit. There’s always a chance that you can identify or remedy something you may have missed on a previous visit. You should always closely monitor the job when the conditions can vary.
Pictures are Priceless.
If problems do arise on a flooring project and you need a professional to help you troubleshoot, photos are key. Carl recommends using the HDR setting on your phone when taking pictures and making certain there’s good lighting. He also advises taking pictures of the back of the flooring material along with the corresponding surface underneath. Lastly, he suggests including a point of reference. “If you are trying to show a certain anomaly on size, throw a quarter down or your car keys, to represent the size or magnitude of the issue.”
We asked Carl to identify and describe the causes of some flooring issues which are commonly, and mistakenly, attributed to improper maintenance.
In our first example, VCT tiles in a hallway are gapping and cupping.