Flaws in lower priced, lower grade of flooring

Q: We recently had hardwood (unfinished, common #1 red oak) installed in our living room. Upon inspection after the finishing (natural stain and 3 coats of tongue oil), we noticed many marks on many of the planks (2 1/4 in.) which range from 1/4- 1 inch long, 1/16″ wide to 1/16″ deep. They are almost black in color and go directly against the grain of the wood. They have been explained as wormholes.

Also, during the installation many nails were placed too closed to the edges and caused some small cracks, most but not all will be hidden by the base. Lastly, there are gaps between the majority planks.

Should I have the flooring company come back and re-fill, sand and refinish?

A: It sounds to me that these are things one has to expect when buying a lower priced, lower grade of flooring. Defects such as the dark pits, dark mineral streaks, etc. are all part of that grade, as are a lot more short lengths. It sounds like the gaps could be caused by poor milling. Again, a low grade product at low cost means less attention to the quality of the end product.

If the splits will be covered by base, I wouldn’t worry about them. The guys perhaps could have done a better job on filling gaps. The NWFA lists gaps as thick as a dime to be “normal”. I don’t see that a complete sanding is needed. The gaps could be filled, the last coat buffed and then another coat applied.