Flooring Inspection Safari: Laminate Flooring Damage

laminate flooring problems

Recently, I was asked to look at a laminate floor installation. The complaint came in as “cracking and chipping.”

When I arrived at the ground floor condo and looked around, I could see that the owner was meticulous. Everything was perfectly in place, polished, and well maintained. The floor, which was 2 1/2 years old, looked like it had been installed last week. I glanced around and asked to see the problem areas. I expected to find planks with cracks or perhaps broken corners or edges.

She took me over to a short hallway that connected the bathroom and bedroom. Then she pointed to a 1” angled gash near the end of one plank.

I asked her when she first noticed this condition. She said it was about 6 months ago. That means the floor was perfect for two years. Then a plank suddenly split open all by itself!

I know that a plank won’t spontaneously split open, but I removed the necessary tools and gauges from my tool bag and began inspecting the floor. I checked all the usual things: sub-floor moisture levels; end joint stagger; room perimeter gaps; and flatness. Then I used a five-power lighted magnifier to closely examine the damaged area.

It was clear that something sharp and fairly heavy, like a butcher’s knife, had dropped onto the plank. It went right through the very tough aluminum oxide wear layer. It went through the photographic layer (the one that gives the plank a wood appearance). And it went right into the high density core material that gives a laminate plank its strength.

I said nothing to the homeowner. She had convinced herself that the plank had self-destructed. But when I wrote the report for the factory, I made it clear that something in the home had caused the condition.

The good news? It is easy to replace a damaged laminate plank. The bad news? I doubt that either the store or the manufacturer will pay for a replacement.

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.

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2 Responses to “Flooring Inspection Safari: Laminate Flooring Damage”

  1. Dick Katz says:

    The “mark” was on a diagonal. 1st clue that it was locally generated!

    • Glenn says:

      Dick, Thanks for the comment! You are absolutely correct! Manufacturing problems are horizontal/vertical only.