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Commercial Flooring News

Avoid Hardwood Floor Problems Before Getting In Too Deep

Congratulations! You’ve made it past that first step on your new hardwood floor selection by making the choice and purchase. Simple? It may seem so, but a key ingredient to enjoying that endless beauty lies in the actual installation. The retail store may claim to have experienced hardwood installers, but our experience has shown some do not have the knowledge to install a floor that should be without installation related problems.

hardwood floor gapsThat cutely packaged 25 year warranty may set your mind at ease but many consumers are unknowingly aware an estimated 90% of hardwood floor warranty claims are the result of improper installation, stemming largely from not following manufacturer installation specifications. Proper steps must be followed by an installer in order to provide a successful installation, or one that does not come back to haunt later.

Considering there are several types of installation methods, complaints or failure can come from different angles. Some of the more noticeable ones:

Solid Hardwood Floors

Topping the list of complaints are floor squeaks. One major reason includes a sub floor that is not flat enough. Any dips or humps will cause the flooring to flex over time; fasteners loosen. Boards rub together causing noises when walked on. Unusual sounds are also caused by moisture changes in the floor itself. “Our floor is making creaking and popping sounds even as we sleep.” Other reasons may include improper fasteners to install the floor. Add in improper use of fastening (ie not enough nails).

Another annoying feature can be hardwood floor cracks and gaps. Gapping generally occurs during winter months when dry heat is introduced into the home. Fairly common, especially in colder climates. Nonetheless for a new floor installation gapping can be minimized if attention to moisture conditions are followed before, during, and after the installation.

Floating Floors

Likely to be the single largest complaint is a hollow sound underfoot. First culprit to look at once again is lack of floor preparation just like our solid hardwood floor. Other buckled hardwood floor problemsymptoms can be bouncy, creaking, or seesaw effects. Walking across the floor you notice soft areas. Lack of floor preparation again. Note: hollow sounds or feel can also be a result of lower quality underlayments used.

Tenting or buckling. The floor starts to heave upwards. “It wasn’t there last week.“ This is a result of increased moisture into the environment combined with lack of expansion areas needed.

Glue Down Direct Floors

This type of installation creates more expensive solutions compared to the two discussed. Moreover, do you know what the largest cause for complaint is for? It’s been mentioned in the other two. Lack of floor preparation. This results in popping sounds, but may not be caused by the above. Another reason can be improper flooring adhesive used or not enough applied.

Solutions Before Problems Occur

Make sure your installers provide a proper sub floor. It is their responsibility to fix minor sub floor variances, but there are added costs. Declining or not agreeing to floor preparation can lead to problems. If a warranty claim is filed with the manufacturer it will not be honored in this case. Major structural issues should be left up to a professional in that field.

Spend some time researching manufacturer websites. All major manufacturers have sections detailing installation. Perhaps the flooring store has a box leftover in the warehouse. Flyer inserts detailing installation and warranties are always included. Some manufacturers have products that can be quirky. In other words, what works for one may not work for yours.


Once you’ve made that decision on a product take some time and ask the salesperson if these procedures will be followed. Floor preparation or lack of is one of the largest reasons for complaints or warranty claims. Unfortunately some salespeople eager for a sale may not mention floor preparation because it can be expensive. This is particularly true with tract home builders.