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Unit: Inspecting and testing subfloors

LMFFL2004A: Moisture test timber and concrete floors
LMFFL3101A: Inspect sub-floors

Section 3: Inspecting subfloors

Australian Standards

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Every flooring installer should be familiar with the Australian Standards relating to the work they're carrying out.

The Standards not only set the benchmarks for what's considered an acceptable job, they'll also help to protect you if there is ever a dispute about the quality of the work.

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This is especially the case when something goes wrong and the client wants to know who's liable.

'Liability' refers to the level of responsibility that particular people take for the problem, and who will pay to fix it.

If you've followed the Standards in every aspect of the installation project, you're always able to say that you've done your job properly and met all of your responsibilities as a professional installer.

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It's very important to be able to say this, because as an expert in your field people will have high expectations of you.

The client will have taken it for granted that before you started the installation you made all the necessary checks and satisfied yourself that the site conditions were suitable.

If you believe there are problems with the subfloor, you need to tell the client at the outset and agree with them on a course of action.

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It might mean that you carry out extra work to improve the subfloor conditions or bring in a specialist to do the work.

Or it might mean that you turn down the job completely, or at least wait until the client has taken other steps to fix the problem.

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General provisions in the Australian Standards

Below are some of the general provisions in the Australian Standards relating to subfloor inspection.

We'll look at specific provisions to do with checking moisture content levels in the next section of this unit.

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Requests for information from the client

As part of your site assessment, you should ask the client to provide the following information:

  • steps that have been taken to protect the walls and subfloor from rising damp

  • location of the air conditioning and/or heating systems

  • whether the subfloor ventilation complies with the Australian Standard requirements (as set out in AS 1684 and 3660)

  • if the subfloor is concrete, the date it was completed, the thickness of the slab, whether curing agents were used, and any other details relevant to the floor covering installation.
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Report to the client

If you find problems with the subfloor or other aspects of the site, you should prepare a written report for the client or the builder.

This will allow you to state what the issues are and how they can be addressed.

Once the issues have been documented, you'll be able to agree with the client on who will be responsible for carrying out the work.

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Other Standards and guidelines

In addition to the Australian Standards, there are various industry standards and codes of practice developed by organisations such as the Australian Timber Flooring Association (ATFA) and Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA).

When a flooring manufacturer or installer becomes a member of one of these associations, they enter into an agreement to comply with the association's standards and codes.

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This lets the business tell their clients that they're part of an industry network that upholds a set of rules governing quality and performance.

It also keeps them in touch with the latest trends in the industry and the expectations of customers in relation to service and quality.

So it's often the case that a business has to comply with an association's standards and codes as well as the Australian Standards that apply to their work.

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For the on-site installer, there is one more layer of standards that you need to comply with.

These are the manufacturer's instructions on how to use their products in the 'approved' way.

Like all of the standards and codes mentioned above, these guidelines are not only designed to give you the best results - they'll also help to protect you if something goes wrong.

Manufacturers often provide a warranty that says they will replace a product or help to rectify problems if the product doesn't perform as well as it's meant to. But the warranty only applies when the product is used strictly in accordance with the instructions.

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It's another reminder that when you follow all of the standards, codes and guidelines that relate to the job you're doing, you've got the backing of industry associations and manufacturers who develop them.

You've also got the law on your side if there is ever a dispute about the quality of your work.

But if you take shortcuts or don't follow the standards that apply to the work, you're on your own when something goes wrong.

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Learning activity

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Which Australian Standards and industry standards apply to your work? If you're not sure, ask your supervisor what they are and where you can get copies to read.

Note that you can buy your own copy of the Australian Standards by going to:

Write down the full title of each document that you need to be familiar with.

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