New floor has a tiny gouge mark in nearly every plank

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Q: I just had new red natural oak flooring installed, and there’s a tiny gouge mark in nearly every plank of wood. You can see these little indentations clearly in the sunlight and definitely feel them with your finger nail. The installer says that is normal and no wood is perfect. I think it is a manufacturing defect but no one will admit fault. What do I do? Here are some pictures of the gouges of my new floor. Most of them are very similar in size, as if a machine caused it, which is my guess.

A: Did he have a staple stuck in his shoe? Things can happen and I feel bad for the guy. Not sure why he didn’t notice early on there was a problem.

Aluminum oxide and ceramic coatings are very tough. They are abrasion resistant by design. So pre finished floors usually are tougher than site finished floors. For my way of thinking this can be a negative in the long run. Because the coatings are so tough it is about impossible to simply abrade the coatings at some point with a polisher and screen to apply another coat of finish. Every finish will eventually have signs of wear and need to be refreshed but with factor finished floors this usually means a complete resand, removing the micro bevels in the process. I prefer site finished floors but it is a coin toss and a matter of preference. You may be so gentle with your floors that you may never have to worry about refinishing them. If you have a large dog, that idea goes out the window.

Follow-up Q: I’m not sure what happened, I’m still thinking it was when he threw his stapler or hammer down repeatedly. I feel bad for him too, but now I have to go threw the whole disruption and moving everything again. Did I tell you it is the entire downstairs, about 1400 sq feet! I don’t have the site finished floor as an option — it’s either all new floors or refinishing the pre finished floors that are now down, that have the aluminum oxide coating on them.

Follow-up: The installer has finally admitted fault and has offered to refinish the floors or tear them all out and put new ones down. I have been reading that the finish on pre finished floors last longer than refinished, and that pre finished floors with aluminum oxidode are hard to refinish.

I am leaning towards all new floors for those reasons.

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