The Quality in Concrete Slabs luncheon at the 2013 World of Concrete focused on moisture issues with concrete slabs and featured an all-star cast of Stott Tarr, Peter Craig, Roland Vierra, Lee Eliseian, and Bill Lepito--all slabs consultants focused on moisture testing and resolving flooring issues. At one point a question was posed to Peter Craig concerning the use of silicates as a moisture mitigation system--to prevent slab moisture from coming through the top of a slab and causing problems with flooring. After first trying to hide under the tablecloth, Craig responded that in his experience silicates are not effective for this purpose. The other panelists agreed in no uncertain terms.
Unfortunately, at least two people in the audience took issue with this. "To actually deride certain aspects of the sealants industry was not only unprofessional, but bordered on defamation," wrote one attendee. "Why would I spend $75 on a mediocre lunch only to have my intelligence insulted by some seemingly distinguished panel members who obviously had self-serving interests at heart and convenient plants in the audience asking questions which directed the conversation to the sales/promotion of specific products/services?"
A second wrote, "The details about specific product categories were totally biased – and the presenters actually made fun of other categories. Not too professional."
I couldn't disagree more. These five panelists have spent cumulatively well over a century studying this problem. None has a commercial interest in any product or product category. The questions were not planted, but spontaneous questions from the audience. "As consultants," responded Scott Tarr, "we actually benefit if people use silicates as moisture mitigation. I suppose we were brutally honest about it but we've all seen them fail so often, we just can't recommend them. We didn't name any products specifically. We said what attendees needed to hear. In fact, I first answered the question by discussing the benefits of silicates as surface hardener/densifiers. They have their place. We simply haven't seen any data showing that silicates are effective at mitigating moisture vapor issues." One important purpose of the forums we sponsor at the World of Concrete is to get experts together and hope that they provide attendees with the unbridled truth--what they need to hear, as Scott Tarr puts it. I think they got more than their money’s worth from this program.