Damage Control

Surface protection shouldn’t be an afterthought. Plan ahead to protect it right the first time.

Photos courtesy of Skudo USA.

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By Brendon Smith


It’s no secret: construction sites are extremely harsh on installed flooring and other finished surfaces.

Machinery, constant foot traffic, materials, equipment, scaffolding, shoring, water, mold, welding sparks, mortar, stains, spills, solvents, hydraulic fluid and oils can cause significant – and extremely costly – damage to expensive finished surfaces.

The traditional methods of surface protection for flooring include loose- lay cardboard, plastic, and paper products. Since these products are often flimsy and not fully secured, dust and debris easily get trapped underneath. Flooring then becomes scratched, marred, and stained, especially after several months of heavy foot and machine traffic.

The damages can be significant and require complete replacement, which doesn’t come cheap: the average estimated cost to replace a 1,000 sq. ft. hardwood floor can run thousands of dollars, depending on the timber used.

Unless surfaces are properly protected, damage can and will occur. Surface protection will not serve its purpose if it rips, tears, or pulls away from the surface.


Inferior protection systems often don’t last the duration of the construction process. Floor protection should protect against the expected level of construction activity over the surface and satisfy the duration of protection required. It should be easy to install, have a slip-resistant, seamless surface, resist tears and punctures, and resist or prevent water or other liquids from passing through the material.

Hard finished floor surfaces such as finished hardwood, marble, terrazzo, tile, laminate, and LVT can be protected with impact-resistant, self-adhering mats and films that can be peeled off.

Heavy duty synthetic boards are a preferable alternative to more expensive and less effective options such as plywood/masonite that are often used as rigorous protection on commercial construction sites.


Construction work has the largest number of fatalities reported for any industry sector. Slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents. Slips, trips, and falls cause 15% of all accidental deaths.

Injuries from slips, trips and falls can be significant:

  • Concussion
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Head, back, or neck injuries
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Spinal injuries, herniated discs

Poorly considered protection products such as paper, cardboard, and plastic can create hazards for workers since they slide underfoot and have gaps and ridges. Proper surface protection can reduce injuries from slips, trips, and falls on unfinished flooring, stairways, and exterior surfaces.

By using quality, purpose designed surface protection systems, you protect your work and reputation as well as the safety of your workers.

Brendon Smith is the president of Skudo USA, a leading provider of premium surface protection solutions to flooring installers and construction firms nationwide. Learn more at www.skudousa.com.

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