The quality of a concrete floor often is defined by its flatness and levelness. The reality, however, is that flatness and levelness numbers only define the surface profile and don’t guarantee the overall quality. At the Quality in Concrete Slabs Luncheon, sponsored by Stego Industries, Somero Enterprises, and Wagner Rapid RH, three speakers and the audience explored the characteristics of a high-quality and durable slabs, and how that might be developed into a new awards program, jointly sponsored by Concrete Construction and the American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC).

Pat Harrison, Structural Services Inc., Dallas, started by discussing slab design from the basis of defining the owner’s expectations in terms of the trade-off between a serviceable slab and an aesthetically pleasing slab. He stated that in his experience all slabs require some level of prescriptive specification. We need to learn how to define the characteristics that distinguish functionality from aesthetics and develop ways to measure and quantify each. Working together, the designer, contractor, owner, and ready-mix producer can build great floors.

Terry Fricks, founder of The Fricks Co., Fort Worth, Texas, then presented a challenge to the concrete floors industry: to develop an awards program that will raise the bar for defining exceptional floors. He discussed also the basics of finishing a slab to achieve the quality characteristics owners need and the necessity of a contractor to take charge of his projects and not just accept the specifications and conditions he’s given. Since his article in the October 2011 issue of Concrete Construction was a crucial part of the program, he described what he was trying to accomplish with that write-up: to find ways to judge floor quality by F-numbers doesn’t tell the whole story. One caution he gave: never sacrifice quality for schedule.

David Fudala, president of Allflat Consulting, San Diego, covered the technical aspects of measuring floor flatness and levelness, both for random traffic and defined traffic floors. He described the realities of measuring a slab’s characteristics—what things can be measured and when should they be measured.

The audience of more than 100 concrete slabs experts commented on the difficulty of finding ways to measure slabs over the short term that will predict the performance over the long term. Questions included who would pay for measuring these characteristics. Nigel Parkes, PNA Construction Technologies (Booth C4175), Atlanta, seemed to capture the mood of the audience by stating that we should proceed with what we have now and let the industry decide what levels of the various characteristics are important. Look for this discussion to continue at World of Concrete 2013.