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Commercial Flooring News

Wood Floor Problems. Lack Of Knowledge

Considering hardwood flooring can be one of the most expensive investments for the home it’s best to know ahead of time what can happen and why. Hardwood floor problems are especially common when business is booming. This was particularly true during the most recent real estate boom. Dealers had no recourse when faced with a customer who wanted it done last week. What did they do? Throw in some inexperienced installer who was untested in hardwood flooring but may have been a fairly good mechanic handling carpet or laminate floors.

Installation Specification Confusion

Most problems associated with newer hardwood floors are typically caused by lack of knowledge. For instance when bamboo flooring became popular many assumed the Flat subfloor preparationinstallation guidelines were basically the same as hardwood. Compounding the problem was many products would rarely come with installation instructions (still a problem today). The direct glue down method of installing bamboo floors to concrete was the most troublesome. The product itself causes havoc with water or acrylic based adhesives by cupping or showing a washboard effect. Instead urethane glues must be used. Most failures requre complete replacement.

Laminate Floor Installation Guidelines Used In Error

Other common problems are the confusion between laminate and hardwood flooring expansion areas needed. Nearly all laminate floor specifications call for a one quarter inch expansion area on the perimeter of the room. For years the National Wood Flooring Association(NWFA) practiced a 3/4″ expansion area at wall lines and other fixed objects. With the booming housing market at the turn of the century many laminate installers were being thrown into hardwood jobs because of the demand for hardwood flooring and lack of installers. They took this expansion rule of thumb with them, which under the right conditions, eventually caused buckling or tenting floors. Today we still see this expansion confusion.

Single Largest Problem With New Floors

Number one on the list when it comes to problems with new wood floors are the critical steps to be performed before the actual installation. In our opinion home improvement shows don’t make a point to cover this subject as they should. Why? Probably because it’s a very boring part of the process and most viewers want to see the good stuff. Proper sub floor conditions are key to any floor without problems. Shown above is an installer correcting irregular subfloor conditions before the installation.

How Do I Go About Getting Things Fixed?

Generally minor problems can be handled with the installer or dealer. However when it comes to entire floor problems many will try to point the finger at anyone but them self. Keep in mind most will be trying to blame the manufacturer. Afterall, it appears the product has not performed up to expectations, but rarely a manufacturing issue is the cause. Normally it becomes installer error or lack of knowledge in performing proper and time tested techniques.

Ordinarily an independent flooring inspector (NWFA is a good source) is called in to make a report that will be sent to the manufacturer. Inspectors cannot asses a situation with you directly. The report prepared will detail all the conditions present along with photographs. Two to three weeks eventually pass where all parties are privy to the manufacturer reports. Manufacturers do not have any power to correct or assess who is at fault when it’s established their product performed satisfactorily.

Unfortunately the only recourse at this time if no one has owed up to their blunders is a court of law. All reports, symptons, testing, and field photographs will show who is at fault. In our opinion, it’s up to the responsible party to take corrective actions to satisfy the problem and customer and leave the attorneys and courts out of it. Most professionals dealing with a flooring problem will handle it in reasonable time. Afterall it’s their name in the community and they would prefer to keep it in good standing.