webuser_685357789

Unhappy with floor install. WWYD?

V Z
October 8, 2019

I decided to install engineered rift and quartered engineered red oak in my kitchen and living area. The rest of the house has the same pattern in solid, but we are on a slab in the kitchen so we decided to go ahead with engineered. While the wood was marketed as Rift and Quartered, the about 250 square feet we installed do not have a single quarter sawn plank. Most of the planks are rift sawn and there are some that look plain sawn to me, like the two shown in the attached picture. They look quite different than the typical rift sawn pattern to me and unfortunately they are placed exactly where the kitchen meets the living room solid wood and thus the difference is very obvious. I pointed out to the installers that I do not really see any quarter sawn planks when they started the install but was reassured that once the wood is sanded and stained the character would come out. The character indeed came out and it confirmed what I suspected. No quarter sawn planks there.. The wood is glued down, so replacing it would not be easy. I have so far paid half of the total price to the company that did the installation. How shall I approach this situation? I already sent my concerns to the company and waiting to hear back now. I would particularly like to hear from floor professionals on how they would typically approach this type of issue. If you think I am being unreasonable please don't be shy and let me know too. I actually think the wood is beautiful it is just not exactly what I expected and the obvious difference between the living room and kitchen bothers me. Thanks a lot!


Comments (42)

  • emilyam819

    Who bought the wood?

  • Dormelles

    No advice on how to proceed, only I did want to share with you a tip about rift and quartersawn oak scarcity of supply in late 2019. My local midwestern United States lumber yard that services a large metro area informed me that due to flooding on the east coast earlier this year, loggers have been unable to get in to the land where oak would normally be harvested and that as a result, rift and quartersawn oak are very hard to buy right now. The veneer on your flooring was likely manufactured before the supply issues began, but I thought you might like to be aware of this.

    You may already be aware that rift sawn oak actually produces more waste than quartersawn oak and is thus considered the more expensive of the two cuts. I understand you must be bothered by the difference in look from one surface to another, however, and hope you can find a solution. Based on what I've seen over months of reviewing related threads on flawed installations, most companies would offer a discount on the installation before they would replace the entire product at full cost, but I'm not a flooring professional so cannot advise.

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  • V Z

    @emilyam819: the installer bought the wood. He was in the house prior to installation, saw what I had in the rest of the house and reassured me that he could source the same cut.


    @Dormelles: I am aware the rift cut is more expensive, which is exactly why I hoped that there would be more quarter sawn lumber included. I just really like the quarter sawn pattern and I hoped to have some in my kitchen too. I am shocked that there was literally NONE. I would have been also more OK if everything was actually at least rift, but that does not seem to be the case either. In particular the dark plank, which in my view is plainsawn, right at the transition really bothers me.

  • ILoveRed

    The bottom looks like rift and quarter sawn. The top looks like plain sawn. Not a floor expert..just a wood lover. Both are beautiful.

  • eld6161

    I know you are disappointed but to te average person coming into your home, this will be a non-issue.

    I keep looking and looking and don't see what others are explaining. The color looks identical to me.

  • V Z

    @ILoveRed: I agree. That it how it looks to me too. In the kitchen itself I actually have more of the rift sawn pattern, but unfortunately exactly where the two woods meet they installed those plainsawn planks.

  • 2ManyDiversions

    I agree with ILoveRed. If it's just at that transition, I wouldn't be too upset, but if it's throughout, and you've paid well for it, I'd not be happy.

  • V Z

    @eld6161: glad to hear it does not jump up at you as much as it does at me

    @2ManyDiversions: it is throughout. I would say it is about 70% rift sawn and 30% plainsawn. However it is most obvious in that transition area and a bit further up along as there are three long plainsawn planks right next to each other. The others are shorter and more scattered around making it a bit less obvious.

  • 2ManyDiversions

    I don't know what the standard is for quarter sawn when purchasing. I'm seeing more rift sawn, but that's me and my monitor. Our floors are plain sawn, but we do have a good amount of rift, and some quarter sawn mixed in. Which we were told to expect.

  • PRO
    Oak & Broad

    Here are some helpful grain diagrams we use for our plank floor clients.

    Educational Plank Flooring Examples · More Info


    Educational Plank Flooring Examples · More Info


    Educational Plank Flooring Examples · More Info


  • V Z

    @Oak & Broad : So based on these diagrams would you agree with me that several of the planks in the picture I posted are plain sawn? I for a fact don't have one single quarter sawn plank in my kitchen. I would be fine if there was like 10% plainsawn, but 30% plainsawn and no quarter sawn at all is a bit too much given I explicitly ordered Rift&Quartered wood.

  • PRO
    Oak & Broad

    I copied the following information from the NWFA website. It belongs to them. These are the guidelines most people use. The floors seem to fit these qualifications.


    NWFA/NOFMA OAK GRAIN DESCRIPTIONS


    PLAIN SAWN: flooring that is marked or specified as PLAIN SAWN or PLAIN, may contain any combination of the following types of grain classification (also, flooring without a grain designation may contain any combination of the types of grain classification): Plain Sawn, Rift Sawn, and Quarter Sawn.


    QUARTER SAWN: flooring that is marked or specified as QUARTER SAWN, or QUARTERED; at least 50% of the piece must contain Quartered characteristics. Quartered characteristics as defined by NWFA-NOFMA are: in cross section the angle of the annual ring tangent to the face of the piece to be between 45 and 90 degrees; grain lines to be mostly parallel to the length of the pieces, and medullary ray flecks present and more than 1/16” (.0625”) (1.59 mm) wide.


    RIFT SAWN: flooring that is marked or specified as RIFT SAWN or RIFT; at least 75% of the piece must contain Rift characteristics. Rift characteristics as defined by NWFA-NOFMA are: in cross section the angle of the annual ring tangent to the face of the piece between 30 and 60 degrees; grain lines to be mostly parallel to the length of the pieces and medullary ray flecks less than 1/16” (.0625”) (1.59 mm) wide.


    QUARTER/RIFT SAWN: flooring that is marked or specified as QUARTER/RIFT SAWN or QUARTER/RIFT, is a combination of QUARTER SAWN and RIFT SAWN.

  • live_wire_oak

    Have those 2 boards replaced. Done.

  • V Z

    @Oak & Broad: I don't think my kitchen floor actually fits the qualifications for Rift&Quartered. What is below the transition is my solid wood living room floor, which is rift&quartered for a fact. It is maybe 50% rift, 45% quartered and maybe 5% plainsawn (I analyzed it quite carefully yesterday). What is above the transition is part of my kitchen floor. I have 0% quarter sawn, about 70% rift sawn and 30% plain sawn overthere. Based on the descriptions above my kitchen floor could be then best described as plain sawn, as it does not meet the necessary minimum for a rift floor and does not contain any quarter sawn pieces.

  • V Z

    @live_wire_oak: I thought about that, but how hard is that on a floor that was glued down?

  • cpartist

    The floor looks good and no one else will notice. I would figure out what you feel the difference in price would be between the less expensive plain sawn versus the quarter/rift sawn and take that off of what you owe them.

  • Sammy

    Can you post pictures of the entire area of new flooring, instead of that one little area, please? There’s no need to include the existing flooring.

  • Sheeisback GW

    I just wanted to say I’m sorry. The floor still looks nice but I’d be very upset if I was told and expected something different. Even with a discount I would be bothered every day that’s it not what was supposed to be there. And you did question early on once they started. I’m wondering how they didn’t seem to realize what they were installing. Yet, they just continued and I’m assuming hoped you would be ok with the end result. They had to have known as they were looking at board placement there was no quarter sawn. I very much dislike when people don’t follow through with what they say they’re going to do. And when mistakes happen, I feel they should be owned up and corrected. Do you have a contract? I‘d want it tore out and replaced.

  • 2ManyDiversions

    I agree with Sheelsback. You did try to tell them, which is the saddest part. However, understand, sometimes things like this happen - we've met with our share of issues in our remodel - and some we've had to overlook, which drove me crazy initially, and now, eh. I'd wait and speak with the company. If they don't take action or offer a discount, make your own discount as cpartist said. Take lots of photos, and make sure you are correct - since we cannot see the rest of your floor. And be sure it's in writing that you requested both rift and quarter. I'm seeing a fair amount of rift, as you said. Not quarter sawn.

  • V Z

    I'll take some more pictures when I get home tonight. I do have a contract and it definitely says Rift&Quartered.

  • PRO
    G & S Floor Service

    Rift & quarter sawn is bundled mostly rift, about 80% The rest is quarter and plain sawn. 50/50 mix are not available. You would need to mix in quarter sawn to achieve that. The cost of material would be higher. R & Q is only around $0.50 psf. more than plain sawn. Quarter sawn itself is double the cost of plain sawn. So, to keep the cost down, the mix is 80/20.

  • 2ManyDiversions

    ^^ Ah, that's the information I was wondering about. So, VZ, you'll need to keep this in mind as you look at your floors and speak with the company. Thanks G & S. I knew there had to be some general ratio guidelines, and I think that can be confusing when people think they are getting 50% quarter and 50% rift, then don't see that upon installation.


    As an example, we had to request that no short pieces be installed - and later changed on that a bit. Short pieces, nor ratios were told us by any of the hardwood people we interviewed unless we asked. In the end we requested at additional cost more hardwood ordered, and then decided how many short pieces we preferred.

  • V Z

    The 80/20 ratio would not fulfill the qualification criteria for R&Q described above. It was also not my experience from when we installed the R&Q solid in the rest of our house. The wood from Allegheny mill that we purchased actually does come fairly close to 50/50 between R&Q. Maybe that is exceptional quality, but I think it is fair to expect to not receive mostly rift sawn with some plainsawn mixed in and zero quatersawn when I explicitly ordered rift and quartered wood and the installer saw what I had in the rest of the house.

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen

    Replace a couple of the more visible plain sawn boards, get a bit of a discount, and be very happy that they had enough skill to color match your existing well. That’s a big deal right there. Replacing a board or two isn’t a big deal for a company that has the skill to color match like that. They just cut it out, then cut off the tongue of the new piece, and install it, glueing it down. Repairs like that are frequently done in areas of damage.

  • V Z

    This is another bit of the new floor



  • V Z

    For comparison some solid that we have in another part of the house


  • eam44

    You have a level of sophistication about flooring that I lack, so what is glaringly obvious to you is not so to me - I noticed the gorgeous color match that Cook's mentioned, and on closer inspection I do see that you have no quarter sawn pieces in the transition. The bottom line is that you didn't get the floors you wanted and paid for. Talk to your flooring guys and see what they can do for you. Clearly you are a detail person. show them (with a sticky note, perhaps?) where you want quarter sawn pieces. Let them worry about cutting out the boards and fitting new ones. You might start by placing a sticky note on the quarter sawn boards in the existing floor, so they can visualize the difference in the mix.

    I hope you end up with the floor you want. Good luck!

  • ILoveRed

    VZ...that picture you just posted of your foyer? Of the new floor...is beautiful. I don’t see a lot of plain sawn there. i agree with the others about seeing if a few boards in the other area can be replaced without damage. Or maybe not..if it’s likely to cause damage.


    the floor really is pretty.



  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen

    That actually is mostly rift sawn, and does have some few transitioning into quarter sawn. There’s very little plain sawn. Rift and quartered doesn’t mean that there is no plain sawn in the mix. I think it within some sellers definition of rift and quartered. If a couple of bundles of quartered had been added to that, then I think it would have made you happier.

    The miscommunication about the specific supplier’s mix content could have been resolved after a pre install materials inspection, and by inspecting the floor after a few boards were installed. That’s well after the fact now, and does you no good. But, as a potential fix for you, consider buying a bundle of pure quartered, and having them replace select boards in the most visible spots. You pay for the materials, and they pay for the time intensive labor to match stain and replace.

  • V Z

    @The Cook's Kitchen: I have pointed out the issue to the installers when only three boards were glued in. They reassured me the pattern would come out after sanding. I am not willing to spend more money on this. This was not a cheap floor to start with.

  • PRO
    Johnson Flooring Co Inc

    "Based on the descriptions above my kitchen floor could be then best described as plain sawn, as it does not meet the necessary minimum for a rift floor and does not contain any quarter sawn pieces."

    You either misread or misinterpreted what was written and have reached an incorrect conclusion based on an incorrect premise. The numbers given clearly specifying how the amount of face exposure on a particular board determines which cut it is sold as.

    "flooring that is marked or specified as QUARTER SAWN, or QUARTERED; at least 50% of the piece must contain Quartered characteristics."

    "flooring that is marked or specified as RIFT SAWN or RIFT; at least 75% of the piece must contain Rift characteristics."

    "OF THE PIECE" is the critical phrase you missed. This refers to whether a particular board qualifies as plain, rift or quartered. I don't know that there's any specification dictating how much rift and how much quartered can be in the mixed cut. I think it could be 99:1 or 1:99. When one orders rift and quarter sawn flooring, they're at the mercy of fate as to what that mix is. A floor installer has no idea until it arrives. If it looks generally acceptable, they would likely proceed to install. If they happened to notice that the batch was mostly rift sawn, they would have come to you for guidance. Armed with the knowledge you have now, and considering that another batch of wood, regardless of who it came from, could rightfully be exactly like what you have now, what would you have done? A solution could have been to order some all quarter sawn from the same manufacturer. This would fix your issue but might not be viable. Maybe the supplier doesn't make all quartered. Maybe they do make it, but it would have taken a month to get. What then?

    Your first picture looks bad, with the wide grained board right at the doorway. I was on the fence. Your last set of pictures makes the difference look marginal. Now I'm inclined to leave it be.


  • chocolatebunny123

    I'm curious, if you say that the living room was "solid" and the kitchen "engineered" wood, then are they even from the same manufacturer? Maybe different manufacturers have different "mixes"?


    I'm following to see what the flooring company says.

  • V Z

    @Johnson Flooring Co Inc you are right that I misread what you wrote, but in that case there are even more pieces that would not pass the rift test and there are zero pieces that would pass the quartered test. The latter is what bugs me the most. I think what I will ask the company to do, is to source some true quarter sawn pieces and swap those plainsawn planks at the transition. That part really is what bothers me the most, so hopefully that will be a reasonable resolution for the company too. I hate to do it, because as pointed out by others, they did a good job at the install, but I also told them early that I did not see what I was looking for in that floor and their response was to reassure me it will all be fine and rush me out of the room.

  • live_wire_oak

    If I was the flooring company, I’d replace the couple of planks at the entry with rift ones from the initial order, as a customer service concession, and call it good. No discount at all. Any other adjustment would need to have a monetary investment from you. The distance shot of the floor as a whole looks fine. There is hardly any full plain sawn at all. Some show plain and rift, which is normal in a mix. That’s an upgrade over a standard mix. A standard rift and quartered flooring mix would have a lot more plain sawn than shows on your floor. It isn’t 100% only rift and quartered. No, it doesn’t have a huge amount of boards showing the quartered characteristics. They aren’t completely absent though.

  • PRO
    Johnson Flooring Co Inc

    Credit goes to Oak & Broad for supplying the specifications.

    "there are even more pieces that would not pass the rift test and there are zero pieces that would pass the quartered test."

    I noticed that too. There are some decidedly plain sawn pieces in there. As mentioned, I believe you could get all rift sawn in an order of rift and quartered.

  • PRO
    Johnson Flooring Co Inc

    chocolatebunny123 My major suppliers of engineered don't make solid. Most makers of solid don't make engineered. In fact, I can't think of one that makes both. What determines the mix is likely fluid, determined by supply and demand.

  • shead

    FWIW, the new floors are beautiful. The stain match is spot on. As others have said, either have them replace a few of the transition pieces or ask for a concession, which likely won't be much in the grand scheme of things.

  • PRO
    Johnson Flooring Co Inc

    If replacing a few pieces triggers a complete refinishing, prepare for unintended consequences.

  • V Z

    @Johnson Flooring: that is actually a very good point. Given it is engineered, I would not want them to take off a full layer from all the wood.

  • PRO
    Johnson Flooring Co Inc

    I was thinking more like having the color come out less perfect, or screwing up the sand job and having to do it a third time or having the gloss levels not match, or having someone walk in the wet finish and having to do extra coats......

    It seems like once something goes wrong, quite often, a procession of other things goes wrong. I've seen it here repeatedly. I've had customers insist I fix small flaws, where the fixes ended up looking worse than the initial flaw.

  • SJ McCarthy

    Johnson has an EXCELLENT point here: the treatment could be worse than the disease. These are engineered floors that are GLUED DOWN! Wow. What could go wrong (she asks with tongue firmly in cheek;-)?


    Here's my take on this situation. Do nothing - for now. Register your complaint with the company. Explain to them that the 'mix' isn't what you paid for. You 'caught' the issue and told the INSTALLER about the issue WELL BEFORE the stain went down. The installer INSISTED it was fine. Now here we are...the issue is still the issue (hmmm...weird how the issue didn't change, right?).


    Your DUE DILIGENCE is over. The lack of response is now on the shoulders of the company who sold and supplied the floor to you AND the guy who did the install (assuming guy is an employee/subcontractor source through the company).


    Great. Now that we know where things are sitting (on their shoulders not yours), you can start the negotiations. You will INSIST that SOMETHING be done for you. Because the floor is cured and ready to be lived on, it is a fully functional floor. You, with the grace and goodness in your heart will try to 'live with it' for 3 months. If you find you are able to 'put up' with the mismatch you will do so. In exchange for your acceptance of their mistake will accept a discount on the TOTAL bill.


    You will negotiate this amount BEFORE you 'live with it' (out of the goodness of your heart). Personally I think the cost difference between the regular mix and what you PAID for will be what is acceptable to both parties. Remember: you have a fully functional, WELL MATCHED stained wood floor. For many people that is worth it's weight in gold.


    What you paid for was a more expensive floor. What you received was a cheaper/normal mix. Find out the purchase price difference for your project (include all the waste) and put it in writing.


    It will be up to you to reach out (after 3 months has passed) to tell the company what you have decided to do. And they will do it.


    Remember: money in the bank after a remodel is a REALLY GOOD THING. But it is up to your personal decision as to whether or not you can 'live with' the mistake. Not everyone can.


    Homeowner Know thyself.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC

    "@live_wire_oak: I thought about that, but how hard is that on a floor that was glued down?"


    It's a real PIA, believe me. I spent 10 hours replacing 15LF of 4" that was glued down several years ago. Never again for any amount of money. Ugh.

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