Damaged Wood Flooring: Manufacturing or Installation Related?

engineered wood flooring damage | Glenn Revere

As a Certified Flooring Inspector, I field inspection requests from consumers, manufacturers, and installers. The complaints range across a wide variety of problems. Sometimes the blame for a problem is obvious. It is clearly one person’s or one entity’s fault. Sometimes things are not so obvious and I cannot clearly deduce who is at fault. Today’s Flooring Inspection Safari complaint falls into the latter category.

In this case, the consumer complained her newly installed engineered wood floors were scratched and chipped. She noticed the problems when she moved furniture into her home after the installation was complete. She called the installers and they returned to look at the damage. Then they filed a complaint with the manufacturer, who called me. I looked at the floor two months after the installation. I have included the body of my inspection report here for you. You’ll notice that I am always required to check the entire installation:

Consumer Statements
Mrs. XXXX stated the wood replaced carpeting. It was acclimated in closed boxes for 5 days in the living room. She noticed the condition when the furniture was delivered 5 days after installation.

Claim History
Mrs. XXXX stated a representative from XX Flooring (installers) looked at the damaged boards.

I found a badly chipped board in the family room near the slider and a board with a curved 4″ scratch on the right side of the fireplace under a display case. The damage is visible from a standing position. A bullnose is loose on the 4th step from the living room.

Field Tests
All rooms are flat length and width to a maximum of 3/16″ over a 10′ span. Perimeter gaps are a minimum of 3/8″ in all rooms. Using a non-destructive meter, I found qualitative subfloor moisture readings ranging from 14%- 20% (scale: 10%-20%). I used a 5X lighted magnifier to examine the chipped and scratched boards. I noticed that the jagged, splintered 1″ chip did not have any stain around the damaged perimeter. The 4″ curved scratch penetrated the wear layer and stain.

67%, 77F

Manufacturer Instructions/Industry References
The NWFA (National Wood Flooring Association) and XXXX (the manufacturer) both allow up to 5% damaged product. Any factory-damaged boards must be culled (removed) prior to installation.

I cannot conclusively state if the boards were damaged pre or post installation. If the boards came damaged out of the box they should not have been installed. If these boards were damaged after installation, the damage is site related. The loose bullnose is installation related.

I had no way of knowing if the boards had been damaged by the homeowner when the furniture was placed in the rooms or if the installers had installed damaged wood. My feeling was the floor had been damaged by the homeowner (site related), but I could not prove it. Factory-related scratches are usually straight, not curved. However, installers have been known to install visibly damaged wood, like the chipped board. While I can’t pinpoint blame, I know that the two damaged boards can be replaced. It is just a matter of who accepts the replacement cost of the labor.


Who is Glenn Revere?

Glenn Revere has been a carpet expert since 1973. He’s a certified flooring inspector and the author of All About Carpets, the only book written to protect and inform you about your carpet choices, from carpet buying and carpet warranties to carpet care and maintenance. You can find him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.


Photo: Glenn Revere

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