ORLANDO, Fla. -  A trending failure in new multifamily construction is mold growth underneath bathroom and kitchen cabinets during the final stages of construction. Experts at Liberty Building Forensics Group say the problem is arising from use of a new type of sound-deadening flooring seals.
In a case where thickened gypsum based flooring was poured as an underlayment over a soundproofing mat in a hot, humid climate, the amount of moisture released to the cavity below the cabinets ultimately caused this area of the cabinets to become part of a microclimate that held moisture and resulted in mold damage so that the cabinets had to be removed as a part of the remediation efforts.
Noting the mold arises from the usually benign interaction between the HVAC systems, and sound attenuation design, Libery Building says the mold multiplies from a lack of sufficient drying (including dehumidification) in final stages of construction. Exacerbating the problem is the installation of enhanced floor sound barrier design. These factors are resulting in small micro-climates underneath cabinets is resulting in mold growth and moisture damage, according to the company.  
"In order to enhance the sound characteristics between apartments there has been an increase in the depth of the gypsum-based floor system along with it being installed over a sound barrier membrane," Liberty Building says. This is causing mold problems because of a lack of dehumidification from the air-conditioning units (or natural drying) during the final stages of construction.
"These complexes are now facing removal and replacement of all cabinets," the company says. 
Liberty Building Forensics Group specializes in solving such failures in buildings, including consulting with Walt Disney Corporation on more than 500 highly complex construction projects worldwide. LBFG says it has diagnosed, solved, or provided remediation-related services in over 5,000 multi-family complexes and apartments. www.buildingforensicsgroup.com

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