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citizenchan

New hardwood floor issues - Should I be angry about the workmanship?

citizenchan
7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

We recently bought a house in Alexandria, VA. We've gotten settled in a bit more now, and every few days I see a new imperfection or workmanship issue that I am wondering if I should accept as part of a owning hardwood floors, or if I should complain and get fixed.

Your advice would be very helpful. Do I need to raise a stink, or is this negligible stuff that comes with the territory?

The full ideabook of issues is here:
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/72937122/thumbs/floor-issues

So, the GC sub-contracted a company to do the floors in our house. The GC has a warranty for their work, but it doesn't explicitly state anything about the quality of the workmanship other than paint, which won't blister or peel. It says "other services" are warrantied but nothing else.

The lower floors were pre-finished floors that had been installed previously that we had resurfaced and stained.
The upper floor got all new wood, it was carpet before, and then stained to match the lower floor.

Cost for this a few minutes from DC Metro, was about $8,000, not including the cost of wood.
I'm inclined to accept these issues, but they are piling up.

On the lower level, the biggest issues are unevenness in the sanding. Some unevenness is OK, it's gives the floors a hand-scraped, aged look that we like since the unevenness mostly follows the grains of the wood. But some spots are dipped like this, mostly at the thresholds and transitions, the poly coating is also a little puddled here, but this is the worst dip and it's unnoticeable except under very close scrutiny.

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On the upper floors, which were newly installed and stained. It looks like in some spots they damaged the wood, stained some areas unevenly, and left small gaps in corners and notches.

Please take a look at the other images below or in the gallery and let me know if you think I have cause to be angry. And if I should be angry and call them up, is there even anything they can do to repair things at this point?

Thank you,


Upper floor damage - This is the worst one.

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Gap

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Uneven stain

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Tiny gaps

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Lower level dip again with straight edgefor comparison.
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Gap
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"Chattering?" from the sander?
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Nail
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Uneven stain
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Comments (13)

  • PRO
    Cancork Floor Inc.
    7 years ago

    The pros of raising a stink vs accepting the process will be up to you. The engineered floors have been site finished (which is where most of your problems occur). These floors have/had only ONE refinish in them! So anything that would NORMALLY be done (to a solid hardwood) CANNOT be done to an engineered floor. There just isn't enough finish left.

    What I am seeing (around the edges with the finish and the "dipping") has a lot to do with the TRIM. I'm seeing some HEAVILY painted trim (so thick it is now making its own pattern). That is a BIG indication that the trim was NOT removed prior to refinishing.

    To "hide" this type of stuff, the trim had to be REMOVED. That is a homeowner decision and often increases the cost of labor. With trim that is so HEAVILY painted, it would be darn near impossible to remove it and then reinstall it. In essence that trim has been "painted into place" with years of paint.

    I'm also seeing "dips" of the flooring around the edges...which is more likely due to uneven FLOORING and not uneven "sanding". In other words, the floor is the cause, not the human.

    There are places where the engineered floor was sanded beyond the veneer - I agree on that. But sadly this is a risk the homeowner takes when refinishing some of these engineered floors. The pooling of finish is definitely a quality issue.

    The solid hardwoods (I assume those "gaps" that you are referring to are for the "upstairs" hardwood). The gaps are minor...but they could have been improved prior to stain/finish.

    The quality of the work is mediocre. Nothing to write home about...but nothing bad enough for a lawsuit. The engineered hardwood is tough enough to deal with and the result you have is "OK" for what it is. There is no way to fix the engineered floor. It is done. This was the ONE AND ONLY kick at the can. The next 'fix' for this floor is full removal. The TRIM is the biggest problem with this...because the trim was not removed, the issues will have to "stand".

    The upstairs floor I cannot comment on as I cannot determine which pics go with that floor. As it stands...you might get a few dollars for discount on some of the finish/puddling issues but that would be about all you could get out of them.

    As for $8K for the labor....I don't know if that is good or not because I don't know your square footage. The going rate for a full sand and refinish (of existing hardwood) = $4-$5/sf. Installing hardwood is "X" amount per square foot. The sand/finish is another amount, "Y" per square foot.

    citizenchan thanked Cancork Floor Inc.
  • citizenchan
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Thank you for the detailed response. This is what I suspected.

    As far as I know the downstairs (where the dips are) is solid hardwood, prefinished at the factory. At least, that's what we were told. I don't think I'd raise a stink about these anyway, so not much to be done there.

    The other stuff like the gaps at the trim, the nail head, and the big chip, and tiny gaps between boards are all in the hardwood installed upstairs.

    The $8K covered 1250 sq ft or so.
    That comprises about 575-600 sq ft of hardwood installed upstairs and finished on-site.
    Another 500 sq ft or so of refinishing downstairs on the already installed "hardwood" is what they told.
    And finally refinishing on a flight of stairs.

    That's a little more than 6 per foot total - I think I paid a going rate for "decent" work, and got "mediocre" work. Again, not enough to raise a stink over, imo.

    As for trim - This house is almost 100 years old. The trim - at the youngest possible - is 24 years old if it was all replaced during a renovation in the 90s, windows were replaced then, but doors were not. The GC said he would not remove the trim for the quote we were given, though I did not know this could affect the flooring job.

    Are the chip and the nail head something you think I could/should sand, repair, stain, and reseal with poly myself, or am I asking for trouble?

    Thanks again,




  • PRO
    GoodHouse Flooring LLC
    7 years ago
    Cancorks comments make sense. It's hard for us to tell what is the upstairs and the downstairs. I assume the upstairs is the lighter color wood(new) and the downstairs is the darker color wood with qtr round that has some paint here and there on the top of it(prefinished old).
    That being said,the job is definitely mediocre. There are some things you have no right to complain about and other things that you need to have fixed/addressed.


    Things you can't complain about:
    Prefinished floors you need to Aggressively sand to make flat with the microbevels between boards. That's likely why you see ramping/dips where the floor meets vertical obstructions like the marble saddle shown. The gaps you see where wood is short of the qtr round or molding is from the previous installation and can't be corrected with sanding. To fix they need to be removed and cut again. Filler wouldn't look so hot on those large short cuts.

    What you can complain about:
    The marks along the walls where you think it's stain is not stain. It's where they missed with the edger on the final cut of sanding. So in other words he may have sanded his first pass with 60 grit. Then he may have done his last pass with 100 grit. But missed those spots. They show up when you put finish on them.
    You showed a pic of a staple that he missed when nailing. That is installer error and can be corrected with filler and stain/poly or replacement.
    The picture with the 2 gaps at the butt joints is mis milling from the floor mftr. This happens on most jobs here and there with commodity products. It needs to be filled and sanded and you wouldn't notice. They didn't do that.
    Looks like the job was rushed. That's the impression I get from the photos.

    And cancork is right, your moldings with the heavy paint is really highlighting these imperfections. I would advise getting rid of all the oak qtr round and put white. You can play with the molding and make a lot of this nonsense disappear. Again it's hard to tell without being there.

    Remember this is my opinion given the pictures and the info you provided. None of us on the Internet can be certain of anything without physically seeing it.

    At the very least, warranty has nothing to do with it, just have the installer come back and address the legitimate issues. Just my thoughts.
    citizenchan thanked GoodHouse Flooring LLC
  • citizenchan
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks.

    Just FYI. Downstairs has only the unevenness discussed. The rest has the gaps, and chips and stuff.

    Upstairs (All hardwood installed, and finished):

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    Downstairs:

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    Stairwell (only sanded and refinished, floor was already installed):

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    Sounds like maybe an email or call with the GC about his subcontractor's mediocre work might do me well? This GC is very concerned about his yelp rating - currently a 5 star, and this flooring contractor had previously told me this was only his 4th project with the GC. Perhaps they will all be motivated to make these things right without a lot of hassle.

  • citizenchan
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Also, you mention no quarter round. I am not a fan of it anyway. Do you mean a larger molding? I didn't know that was a thing. I'll google around for stuff now. Thank you


    - Edit: Two seconds on google images, and I see I had far more options than "quarter round" which is what I was given. Thank you


  • PRO
    Linda
    7 years ago

    The issues you mention with the upstairs flooring are poor workmanship and you shouldn't expect those, even if you don't have a top of the market installer. There are basic standards of workmanship and cutting boards too short is wrong. When my partner does flooring work, he wouldn't let most of the issues go by, even if he wasn't getting paid for the work. If in doubt, we refer to the small piece of trim molding we have laying around just for those questionable pieces.

    As mentioned above, it looks like a rush job. Checking all the corners and making sure the boards are set tight at the ends takes a little bit of time - not much. - Someone who is worried more about the clock than the work is not someone I want to work with, regardless of the amount of money changing hands.

    citizenchan thanked Linda
  • citizenchan
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Just FYI, I sent an email and without question, fuss, or otherwise, the contractor sent the flooring team back to the house, and they handled everything, plus a few things I didn't mention. It was not a trouble at all, they set everything right. Thanks, without your input, I likely never would've asked for them to fix things.


    Thanks again all,

  • PRO
    Cancork Floor Inc.
    7 years ago

    Ahhhh...a GC that is concerned about their brand! Excellent news citizenchan! So glad this worked out for you. I'll bet the GC will be a bit more diligent with this crew (if he uses them in the future). You have found an upstanding GC. Good for you!

    citizenchan thanked Cancork Floor Inc.
  • citizenchan
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Thanks and yes it turned out better than hoped.

  • pegjustpeg
    7 years ago

    Yes, happy for you. Would you post some pictures of the "after" fixes so we can compare them to the "before"?

    citizenchan thanked pegjustpeg
  • citizenchan
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Here you go. I think the tint isn't perfect on a couple of the larger spots. Do you think the color will even out when the poly dries? Otherwise, I may have to have them come match it better or do it myself since I have the stain and the poly.

    I'm probably least happy with the first one. It was too big to patch with filler, and too small for them to be "bothered" to pull the molding out, cut a plug of wood for the gap, and then stain and put the molding back again. So, what I think he did was back the molding away from the wall about 1/16th of an inch, then fill the remaining gap of about 1/16th inch, and caulk the gap between the wall and the molding (which isn't fully covered). Basically, he did a cover up job not a repair/fix. Not sure if I should raise a stink or just live with it since it is pretty much invisible now (and I can put some more white caulk).

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  • pegjustpeg
    7 years ago

    Sure looks better. Not perfect, but after hiring a number of different crafts for jobs on or around our current house over the last 11 years, I've realized perfection rarely happens. I've been thrilled by excellent work a few times but mostly just glad the job was finished and the workers were gone.

    I hope the pros can tell you more on the color and quality of repairs and if wider molding would be appropriate. Good luck. I know it's stressful.

    citizenchan thanked pegjustpeg