When your wood flooring is defective

Q: We put in hardwood flooring 7 years ago, 460 sq. feet. Not too long after, I felt the floor was not standing up. I called the company [makers of the wood], and they did send someone in. He said they would only replace a few boards. We didn’t bother – we we’re unable to at the time. Since then the wood has gone from bad to worse. 

Again, we called the store we got it from, the company [there are now approx. 130 cracked in the wood, some quite large, that is not counting the other areas.] I might add the humidity is good, we did a do and a do not prior to having the floor installed. Also, I know how to look after a wood floor.

The company, after many weeks of working with them; sending out pictures, taping off the cracked, counting them [I could go on and on]… to make a long story short they now are not willing to do anything. They have given me every reason as to what they feel has happen [that it’s our fault]. I have had 3 home builders in and they all said that the floor should not have gone like this. The company did say they would have a sale rep. in our area in April and that he could have a look at it. Also, the first rep. that came in did a file on the floor and the company said that they could not find it. This is a lot of cash down the drain…

A: By “hardwood flooring” what species do you mean? What do you mean by the expression “not standing up”? “130 cracked in the wood?” Do you mean the boards are splitting, or do you mean there are gaps appearing between the boards? Your comments are so none specific, it is difficult to comment. For example, by saying “not standing up” do you mean the finish is wearing off prematurely? Is this a pre finished floor?

Follow-up Q: The wood was made by a company called M****. It is a natural birch,2 1\2 thick, semi gloss. The boards are actually spilling, one split is 8 1\2 inches long. There is no buckling, no gaps, etc. Some of the finish is prematurely wearing off. By not standing up; what I mean is, it looks like like we have had the floor down for 20 years, not 7 years.

A: No buckling, cupping, etc… So, there is no moisture issue. I would have to believe the flooring is defective from the factory and I would be chasing the manufacturer. There must be some sort of warranty on it.

Follow-up Q: Their answer was as follows; floor is moving, gaps in between rows, when floor opens and closes seasonally it creates a stress to the fibre of hardwood, boards crack. Since cracks are gray, it indicates to them that other products were used on the floor. This was their answer to us after some photos were sent to them. They also said that they cannot find a file on our first complaint to them approx. 4 years ago. They have a warranty of 10 – 25 years.

We have had three companies come in and look at the floor. They have all said almost the same thing: everything looks good, and the boards should not have cracked. Who’s right? The moisture in our home is good. I have only used proper wood cleaners on the floor.

A: In my opinion, slight expansion and contraction has nothing to do with boards cracking. A case where this might happen is when a floor is site finished with certain water borne products. Extreme movement of the floor caused by severe changes in humidity or moisture in the wood can cause a condition called side bonding and it has been known to break boards. Your floor is factory finished. Also, using poor products to “clean” your floor will not cause premature wear or finish failure. It could severely dull the finish. But it won’t cause the finish to wear off. If the finish is wearing off, they should stand by their warranty and replace the broken boards and worn areas.