How Does Your Surface Need to be Prepared?

by | Dec 31, 2017 | Surface preparation


Did you know that the leading cause of flooring failure is improper surface preparation? The unfortunate reality is that many contractors may not take the time to set themselves up for success. Surface preparation gives your subfloor the best chance of success, especially when it’s conducted by a team of experienced professionals.

While it does come with an initial investment, it may actually save you money in the long run.

What types of things may need to be done to your subfloor to get it ready for a new floor covering? Here are a few oft-forgotten tasks that your contractor may need to do before they move on.

Adhesive Removal

If you’re doing renovations on a property that had previous flooring installed, there’s a possibility that you will need to remove old adhesive first. Glue-down wood floors and tiles can make for more difficult flooring removal that leaves behind traces of adhesives or mastics. Without removing these traces first, new flooring won’t be able to adhere properly to your subfloor surface.

You may need to grind down the subfloor to rid it of all traces of these sticky substances. Many companies will have a variety of grinders available to help with this gritty task. Ask about diamond grinders that can make short work of any adhesive removal you may need to complete.

Floor Flattening

Making sure your subfloors are relatively level is crucial to the success of your future floor covering. Many flooring manufacturers set out very clear guidelines about the maximum deviations in levelness allowed under their warranties. You should be very careful to ensure that your subfloor meets these specifications before moving on to installation.

If you have high spots or clear delineations where old subfloor meets a new addition, you may need to flatten the floor first. A powerful grinder can work to eliminate high spots to help you meet the detailed specifications.

Finding the right grinder is easy when you are working with a company who has several tools to choose from. It’s almost impossible to accomplish this task without heavy-duty equipment.

On the other hand, your subfloor may fluctuate greatly and need far more attention. If you need to remove large amount of concrete quickly, consider hiring TCF West who can plane and scarify your floor. This equipment allows you to remove high spots faster, particularly when there are large quantities of concrete that will need to be removed.

Moisture Remediation

Sometimes, preparing your subfloor can mean taking steps to remedy any pressing concerns such as moisture vapor emissions rates. You won’t often see water droplets form on the surface of your subfloor, but a moisture issue could be lurking just beneath the surface. It’s important to get to the bottom of any potential moisture issues before a larger problem arises.

A company trained in surface preparation should be able to test for high moisture rates. They may check the levels with an anhydrous calcium chloride test or through relative humidity. Once the levels are determined, they can recommend an appropriate moisture control system to meet the need.

This may mean a light sealer or a heavy-duty moisture remediation system in order to lower your overall moisture vapor emissions ratings. Professionals may also make suggestions to change certain items outside of your building, including drainage or landscaping.

Moisture remediation can prevent your flooring from buckling, blistering, peeling, or having an adhesive failure. It’s an important part of subfloor preparation that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Shot Blasting

Occasionally, your subfloor will need a lot of work done in order to clean it, profile it, and prepare it for future floor covering. Shot blasting is one simple way to manage these tasks all in one fell swoop. It is particularly effective at removing multiple forms of coatings, particularly those that are a tougher variety and difficult to remove through other methods.

Compared to grinding or scarifying a concrete surface, shot blasting gives it a much greater surface texture. The grip of this texture helps the concrete to accept adhesive much better, which is why shot blasting is preferred if there are going to be many decorative elements to the flooring.


Many flooring manufacturers will list a specific concrete surface profile (CSP) for the best adhesion. Designed by the International Concrete Repair Institute, these standards remain the same across the entire industry. A qualified flooring or concrete professional should be able to assist you in determining the current concrete surface profile, as well as help you make a plan to achieve the desired end result.

This rating system is designed to let contractors know what type of surface texture is needed for the project. Ranging from one to nine, you need to make sure your concrete falls at the appropriate number in order to ensure future flooring successes.

Profiling can be done in a number of ways, including grinding, shot blasting, or scarifying. In most situations, the surface texture will need to be rougher in order to receive a thicker surface texture, adhesive, or Ardex Winnipeg. Smoother profiles (likely in the two to four range) are better suited for thin skim coats or self-levelers.

Preparing your subfloor for a new floor covering is key to preventing future flooring failures. The cost associated with flooring failure can be astronomical because of all the associated costs. To give you a better idea, you will now have to pay to remove the failed floor covering, prepare the surface all over again, purchase new flooring, and pay for a second installation.

It can pay off in the long run to invest money in the initial preparation of the subflooring.

Be sure to discuss the potential areas where your current project could benefit from subfloor preparation. You may just save thousands of dollars in the years ahead by taking the proper precautions with a team of qualified professionals.


Technical Concrete Finishes

CEOMichael Rosenblat

With over 20 years in the field of technical concrete finishes, I offer a deep experience and precision in design and application of concrete floors. As founder of TCF West, I lead my team in crafting durable, aesthetically striking industrial floors. In this blog, I share industry insights to help elevate your space through quality flooring. Let’s connect to transform your environment with custom floors that meet your needs.