Laminate Flooring Inspection: Glueless “Hardwood” Flooring

box of glueless hardwood flooring | Glenn Revere

As a Certified Flooring Inspector, I am asked by manufacturers, retailers, installers, and homeowners to inspect all types of flooring. These inspections cover all sorts of complaints: manufacturing related, installation related, site related — even buyer’s remorse. The inspection I’ll share today is “something else.”

A major manufacturer asked me to inspect one of their engineered wood floors. The complaint was “floor falling apart.” That potentially covers a wide range of problems, from bad manufacturing to homeowner abuse.

I scheduled the inspection with the end-user, a retired building contractor. The well maintained home was in

a bucolic, suburban area. Mr. X greeted me at the door and I walked in. After trading pleasantries, I asked him to show me the flooring in question. He pointed down and said, “You’re standing on it!.” I looked down and saw a laminate floor, not an engineered wood floor. (They are easily distinguished to a trained eye.) I explained to him that the mill asked me to inspect a wood floor, not a laminate floor. He said, “That’s the problem. I bought a wood floor, but this is what came out of the boxes.”

He explained that he had installed the flooring himself. Five years later, a refrigerator leak damaged several boards. He did not have enough leftover material for a complete repair so he returned to the retailer to buy more. He was told that this flooring was no longer available. Then he was told that even though his leftover box of wood says “Hardwood,” what he had purchased is laminate. He was not happy at all. So he filed a complaint — after waiting three more years!

As part of my inspection, I asked to see the leftover material. Sure enough, the sealed, unopened box clearly was stamped “Hardwood.” But when I opened the box, the flooring inside was definitely laminate with an attached underlayment (cushion)!

I documented the water damage to the flooring (not manufacturing related). I noted various installation deficiencies (not manufacturing related). I noted the cleaning and maintenance methods, which were not recommended for either wood or laminate floors. So none of the physical problems were manufacturing related. But, clearly, there was still a problem. What came out of the box was not what should have come out of the box.

My job as an inspector is to accurately report back to the commissioning party the exact nature of the complaint and my opinion as to who is at fault. Even though it was obvious to me that someone had put the wrong flooring in the wrong box, it was not up to me to tell the manufacturer to replace the eight-year-old flooring.

I am not a lawyer. Each product has a stated and an implied warranty. The manufacturer’s claims and legal departments can determine the validity of this claim without my opinion. They can handle it as they choose.

What did they decide to do? I don’t know. Once I turn in my findings, I am out of the loop. No one tells me the final disposition of a claim. That way I can’t tell a claimant, “The last time this happened, here’s what they did.” Each manufacturer is different. Each claim is different. It’s not my decision — even though I know what I would do if I were King.

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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