The Story of Vapor Lock


Specialty Products Group, (SPG) is proud to have over 3,000 successful projects representing over $1 billion in successfully installed moisture sensitive flooring using Vapor Lock 20/20 to stop moisture related flooring and roofing issues. This equates to roughly 50 million square feet of concrete with a 100% track record of success when all SPG Quality steps are followed.

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The story of how SPG achieved this volume of successful flooring and roofing installations is absolutely a testament to its Quality program that has been a core value and practice of the company since day one, and has expanded as new technologies have become available.

The Problem with Concrete:

Concrete has an abundance of extra water in it, over 3 gallons for every square yard (6” thick). This water, which is not involved in the initial chemical process of hydration with Portland cement, is known as free water, or water of convenience. Initially the relative humidity (RH) inside the concrete is 90%-95%. When the building gets conditioned with the use of heating and air conditioning, lowering the RH in the building to 50% +/-10%, it will pull this free water from the concrete.

The above-described process became a major issue in 1999 when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the allowable Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) inside the building envelope for maintenance and construction. Flooring adhesives that had previously been solvent-based and consequently impervious to moisture issues, now needed to be water-based. A water-based adhesive will lose adhesion when this free water comes out of the concrete re-emulsifying the adhesive. This is estimated to be a 2.4 billion dollar a year problem, and, possibly more importantly, it is creating significant scheduling delays for construction projects.

Concrete Solutions

The first fix for the concrete problem was a topically applied epoxy material that worked very well. The problems with this system are two-fold: cost and schedule delays.

Vapor Lock 20/20 was developed through collaboration between a PhD Chemist, a flooring expert, and a manufacturer who had extensive experience working with this chemistry. Vapor Lock Concrete Admixtures react chemically with the calcium hydroxide formed by the Portland cement and free water to make more of what makes concrete strong: calcium silicate hydrate. This reaction harnesses the energy of the free water to eliminate concrete moisture issues in a similar chemical fashion to fly ash.

Vapor Lock is less costly than the epoxy-based solutions and actually improves schedule integrity. In addition, it has the benefits of improving durability and providing superior finishing qualities. Vapor Lock technology has truly created a paradigm shift in what it means to be concrete. No longer is free-water the enemy; with Vapor Lock inside, concrete is a next-generation building technology.

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Quality Program Backs Up Quality Product