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Floor Covering Inspection

Tips on performing an effective floor covering Inspection
By Bob Blochinger

There are numerous types of floor coverings today, each one requiring a different approach when inspecting the cause of a negative issue. Whether the floor is a hard or soft surface, each floor type requires specialized tools and equipment for a proficient and complete inspection.

Initially however, the procedure for an effective inspection begins the same, no matter the floor type:

  • Listen to the customer’s story and let them explain the issue at hand while making notes. This is a very important part of the process and will make the site review atmosphere more comfortable.
  • Visual review of the area in question from numerous angles, distances and lighting conditions
  • Physical review by hand touch and hand sweep over the surface
  • Use of proper tools such as an awl, clamps, gauge card, level, laser level, tapping pole, bright light, black light, pH paper, cleaning or spotting chemicals, white towel, plain water, lippage measure, ruler, moisture meters, ambient environmental conditions, etc.

After the initial inspection, there are two testing methods for inspecting the cause of a negative issue depending on the floor type:

  • Destructive:  the partial removal of a floor covering to evaluate what’s going on underneath that may be the cause of the negative issue. This is an item that requires permission from all parties – consumer, manufacturer, distributor, legal and perhaps others. This is typically a permanent condition, unless there is additional stock for insertion.

Special tools and equipment will be needed and perhaps additional labor. There may be cause for substrate testing as well, within the scope of destructive testing. Examples could include:


o Wood flooring that has dark spots and some deformity of the plank. Is this a moisture emission reaction? Maintenance procedure-caused or installation-caused? After meter use, destructive testing is needed.  

o Carpet tile that has a white substance oozing thru its seams. Is this efflorescence, elevated pH or slab condensation?


  • Non-Destructive:  the physical and visual review of the negative conditions without any damage done to the flooring.  This includes the use of meters that perform without requiring destructive actions. Non-Destructive tests include a side match in carpet, lippage measure in tile, shading in a finish or perceived appearance of floor covering surface. Soiling, testing and observation when looking for causation can require a chemical agent and white towel test, a review of any previous attempts at cleaning and products used. The use of lighting conditions, bright and black light can also be used to evaluate for causation of conditions.

During your site review, I recommend you get on your hands and knees to perform a close up review of the floor. The observation of negative issues has a standard recommend height of 3 feet above or from a standing position; however taking a knee shows procedural compliancy. Also, the use of a magnifying lens is required for a camera that has good zoom. It’s amazing what you find up close!

There is one action, both verbal and in writing that should never be used: editorializing. This is giving your personal opinion as opposed to your unbiased professional opinion. Reports should include only the facts based on the evidence discovered and explained per your training, experience and education within the flooring industry.

I have found the use of a checklist for each type of flooring to be very useful; which also is the outline for your formal report. Although the first section is generic in nature with all flooring, a second section labeled to the type of specific floor can be helpful for the sequence of inspection performance.

Bob Blochinger’s started out in the flooring industry as a water and fire damage cleaner and restorer. After opening his own installation business, he worked to become an IICRC certified flooring inspector in eight separate disciplines. Bob currently works as an Inspector full-time in addition to owning his own Certified Firm.

*For helpful tips and resources to market your business, visit the Certified Firm only section of the IICRC website. If you don’t have your login information, enter your Certified Firm number as your username and the last four digits of your primary business phone number on record with the IICRC as your password. Please email if you need more information.

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