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Qualified Floorlayers Always Best

Sid Bourne asks why some people think so highly of Bob the builder

SOME time ago I was invited to look at the 180mm solid oak flooring which had been installed very badly by a carpenter/joiner.
The problem was that he had installed the solid oak planks by way of secret nailing using a gas brad nailer and then followed this up by pinning every other row. Needless to say the job went wrong. I went out and found numerous issues. After I had completed my report it went to court. The judgement was for the consumer who was awarded the claim for money back and cost.
I later received an email from the consumer who asked me to recommend an installer. I said I could not do this as it could be seen that I had a commercial interest. I advised the lady to look on the website for flooring associations CFA and or BWFA where she would be able to source a local installer.
I thought nothing further about that case until I got a call from the same consumer a few months ago. The lady asked me to return to the site as the installation had gone wrong again. She was having no luck getting the new installer back.
I advised her to merely go back to the appropriate flooring association, whose member she had employed, and ask them to have the installer return to rectify the problem. After a few seconds of silence, she sheepishly confessed that she had never used a flooring association. She thought a builder would be better qualified, so she invited one to install the floor.
I jokingly asked the lady if the builder’s name happened to be Bob by any chance. Then to my amazement she said: ‘Yes it is! Do you know him?’ I quickly changed the subject to what had gone wrong. The complaint was that the oak floor had lifted so badly that two rooms in the house could not be used.
I needed to see this for myself. And when I arrived at the premises on the pre-arranged day, what I saw I can only describe as like a fairground ride, the treadmill type ‘experience’ where the floor moves up and down as you attempt to cross, making it difficult to walk without falling over. Well that type of fairground ride had nothing on this floor.
See the photos above showing the floor lifted from the subfloor. The second photo shows the floor raised in doorway.
Needless to say none of the doors could be shut. And some doors were trapped both ways, making it impossible to take off some doors until the floor was cut to allow it to drop down.
On inspecting the floor, it was obvious what Bob had done. He tried to float the solid plank onto an underlay, but he left no provision for expansion. Failure was inevitable.
Eventually, we did get in contact with Bob, who stated he knew his stuff. My conclusion was that he hadn’t a clue about installing wood flooring. So the consumer ends up in court again, and again she wins.
So again she calls me to get her an installer. I again point out I can’t do this and advise her to use an association as given.
Some weeks later I get a call from the same consumer. When I realised who she was I froze on the spot. ‘Not again!’ I said. ‘No,’ she said. ‘I employed an installer from one of the flooring associations you mentioned and he has done a terrific job. I was just calling to let you know.’
Out of interest, I asked again why she used Bob the builder. She admitted that she thought a builder would do a better job as she believed the floor installer was inferior. That is a common mistake consumers make and is why Bob is making a very good living wrecking wood floors.
I firmly believe the wood floor industry generally has a poor attitude to installation of wood floors and often not caring who installs. For most wood floor suppliers, they are mainly interested in selling the product. And when it goes wrong they say not a product fault, which, to be fair, is correct in majority of cases.
However, isn’t that a poor attitude? I find the same attitude when training wood courses. The actual interest is poor. That is not surprising because everyone thinks they can install wood floors.
I carried out some training for a large merchant for its sales staff who all said we don’t know why we are here as we only sell the wood flooring and anyway anyone can fit wood floors.
Just as a comparison, I asked the sales people on the course that if they bought a carpet would they install it themselves or use a professional carpet fitter? They all said they would employ a professional carpet fitter. But they would fit a wood floor as they said it just involved using a chop saw and then putting it together.
Yet despite this attitude they admitted that most of the complaints they received were about wood floors. And their best customer is Bob the builder.
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This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at