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7 Ways Underlayment Can Add Value to Replacement Floors in Renovations

Posted on 1/30/2015 1:14 PM by Jack Boesch

PHOTO CREDIT: MP Global Products
When specifying replacement flooring in a commercial, retail, office, hospitality, or multifamily housing renovation, facility managers can choose from a wide range of hard surface materials that may match aesthetic and life-cycle requirements, with options including hardwood, engineered wood, laminate, luxury vinyl tile, and ceramic and porcelain tile. But flooring choices should not stop there. What lies beneath – over the subfloor and under the new flooring - can make a big difference in the long term performance of the installation. Rather than going with one-type-fits-all generic underlayment, specifiers should aim to pair the new flooring choice with underlayment designed, specifically, to enhance performance of that particular type of flooring. High performing underlayment for various types of hard surface flooring is made from materials such as natural, synthetic, or wood fiber, rubber, foam and cork.

Here are seven ways that quality underlayment matched to the type of finish flooring can add long-lasting value to the replacement floor. 

1) It can improve the installation process – Underlayment should be flexible enough to compensate for a slightly uneven subfloor and other subfloor imperfections, ensuring that the finished flooring lays down flat.  

2) It can improve acoustics in the room – One key advantage underlayment can provide is the ability to improve acoustics. Underlayment with sound-suppressing capabilities will quiet the impact noise of occupant footfall, dampen ambient sound in the room in which it is installed, and inhibit voices, music, TV, and other airborne sound from traveling to the floor below. Fiber, cork, and foam underlayment, in particular, can offer strong sound deadening qualities. When evaluating underlayment for acoustic performance, sound consultants and others frequently interested in sound abatement often rely on certified lab tests of the performance of a floor/ceiling assembly to measure how well it insulates against impact sound and airborne vibration. For installations where quiet between floors is an important consideration, it is a good idea to specify underlayment that carries sound ratings that meet, or better yet beat, minimum local building code requirements, which are typically set quite low. 

3) Good compression resistance supports more comfortable walking – Compression resistance is the measurement of force required to produce a specified percentage of compression over the entire top area of a specific sample. Underlayment that provides firm, yet flexible, compression resistance (and holds its shape over time) will disperse the impact energy of footfall, reducing stress on occupant knees and hips, and supporting more comfortable walking over the life of the floor, a welcome attribute in installations where people are on their feet for much of the day, as well as in senior housing. 

4) Moisture management helps protect wood, engineered wood, laminate, and luxury vinyl flooring from moisture – Underlayment may address unwanted moisture from spills or other intrusion of water from seeping in from above and/or coming up from the subfloor in a variety of ways. Some products include a thin vapor barrier that can prevent moisture from migrating in either direction while others also incorporate absorbent padding under the vapor barrier that can wick away incidental moisture from the subfloor and, through evaporation, disburse that moisture at the perimeter of the padding. Depending upon where it is used, underlayment for laminate should carry a water vapor transmission rating that matches recommendations from the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA). Moisture management can also reduce the possibility of mold growth under a finished floor.

5) Insulating properties add to occupant comfort – Underlayment that incorporates a generous insulating R-value of at least 0.50 acts as a thermal break and will contribute to greater occupant comfort by helping make the floor warmer in the winter and cooler in summer. 

6) Special accommodations for laminate, luxury vinyl tile, and ceramic and porcelain tile improve performance of the floor – Because laminate is not nailed or glued down but rather “floats,” there is, unavoidably, a void between the laminate and the subfloor that, unless addressed, resonates as hollow when walked upon. Underlayment designed to be used with laminate features padding that fills the space and helps eliminate the “click click click” commonly associated with laminate floors. It also enables the floor to sound more like real wood. New tile flooring also benefits from underlayment formulated specifically to help inhibit concrete subfloor lateral cracks from telegraphing through to the tile or grout above.

7) Earth-friendly formulations can help preserve the environment, indoors and beyond – Underlayments made with zero VOCs can contribute to healthier indoor air quality and may, in addition, meet LEED standards for low emissions and contribute to the overall project total in the LEED category of Indoor Environmental Quality. Some manufacturers even have their underlayment tested and third party certified to meet high standards for low emission, such as California 1350, which is the most stringent clean air regulation in the U.S. Companies that take this extra step usually share the information on their packaging and website. In addition, underlayment manufactured from recycled content can divert recyclable discarded materials from landfills and may contribute to the overall percentage of pre-consumer content for LEED certification in the category of Materials and Resources.

Jack Boesch is director of marketing at MP Global Products, reach him at 888-379-9695.

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White Glove Security Enhances Bottom Line Real Estate Value

Posted on 1/27/2015 10:01 AM by Andrew Daniels

Property managers at residential communities wear a lot of hats, from filling vacancies and negotiating and enforcing leases, to maintaining the building and property and securing the premises. To be successful, property managers need the support of their entire team – including security. A comprehensive physical security program at a residential property should extend far beyond the typical security responsibilities to also include a strong focus on customer service. Security officers should contribute to an environment that makes tenants and visitors feel safe and welcome, and encourages people to consider the community as their future home.

Property managers understand that savvy real estate buyers and leaseholders carefully review neighborhood statistics and demographics which include crime rates. Residential communities that employ quality security professionals are better able to deter crime and respond to and recover from emergencies, therein making these residences a more favorable place to live and a safer investment. 

In addition, today’s residential security professional is trained to maintain a safe and secure environment, as well as learn the culture of the property and deliver outstanding and personalized customer service. In my role at a leading physical security services company, I oversee residential security teams servicing gated communities and high rise dwellings. People who visit secure properties with a white glove approach to customer service gain a very favorable impression - which ultimately leads to higher market perceptions.

 Security officers often serve as the first and last impression of a residential community, complex or building. It is important that residents, their families and their guests feel safe, secure, and welcome. Security officers trained specifically for residential properties understand the need for a careful balance when developing and maintaining a secure yet friendly atmosphere.

Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos said that, “if you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”  Delivering a white glove customer service experience is the strategy of anticipating a customer’s needs and providing an exceptional and unforgettable experience. Property managers who strive to deliver a high level of customer service recognize the opportunity in partnering with a security officer provider that can support this effort. 

What type of security professionals make the best fit for residential communities?  It is important for the security contractor to employ friendly, confident security professionals who enjoy working with the public and who are attentive to detail so they can carry out the important tasks of their posts and patrols, while also serving as a good representative of the property or management company. Security officers should be personable and have good language skills so that they can easily communicate with both residents and visitors.

A residential security officer acts as an ambassador who, as the initial point of contact, can make a critical difference with the resident/visitor experience. A people- and service-oriented mentality is key. A customer service-minded security officer is in tune with the needs of the property and seeks out opportunities to go the extra mile – and is prepared to do so. An example is a security officer at a pet-friendly community who keeps unexpected treats - dog biscuits - in the gate house. When a resident or visitor with a dog passes by, they are offered a special treat for their pet. Another example is a security team that keeps umbrellas at the front desk for use by tenants and their guests. These small but impactful gestures are part of the mission to deliver a white glove customer service experience and reinforce the value of the property.

To meet all of the property’s needs, including customer service, training is critical. Property managers will be more satisfied with their security officers’ performance when they align with a security provider that places great value on the importance of training. Security officer learning should be wide ranging, covering everything from residential patrol techniques and access control to customer service, emergency response procedures and, if desired by the property manager, CPR. 

The Right Fit for Your Property

It is important to keep in mind that not all residential security programs are the same. When selecting a security partner for a customer service focused program, property managers should look for the following:

  • Industry-specific expertise – Securing a residential community is very different than securing a manufacturing facility. The right security partner will have not only extensive residential property experience but also expertise in customer service.
  • Focused Recruiting – Security officer selection is critical. Not every security officer is cut out for a very public facing, multi-faceted role. The ability to both secure and welcome is a unique talent and the security officers filling that role must be carefully screened and selected.

  • Emergency Response – Your security provider should have the local management support and manpower to handle emergencies. A natural disaster that leaves the community without power or makes a primary exit road impassible should be considered as part of the security program development. While no security measure can prevent these occurrences, communication, preparedness and evacuation plans are needed.

  • CommunicationCustomer service and communication go hand in hand. The security provider should be open to communication from not just the property manager but the homeowners as well. Security needs to be informed of extended house guests, resident vacations and safety issues on property.
  • Residential Security Training – Security training needs to be specific to your needs and continuously accessible to the security team. Training should cover a range of areas including customer service, fire safety training, emergency preparedness, evacuation procedures, residential security basics and effective patrolling techniques.
  • Tailored SolutionsBefore mapping out your security solution, the provider should have knowledge about your neighborhood, the residents in your buildings, and a host of other important areas, including your desired level of customer service, so that they can make appropriate recommendations.

A strong customer service philosophy within your security program can make a significant impact on your property. Well-trained security teams help a community feel safer and its residents to sleep easier knowing that their neighborhood is protected and that their real estate values will be strong.

Andrew Daniels is vice president, residential security for AlliedBarton Security Services

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