Hardwood floor installation- acceptable gaps

clt2137February 19, 2012

I am custom building a new home and am in the process of having hardwood flooring installed.

The floor boarding is #1 Common Red Oak 3 1/4" with a planned Medium Brown Stain.

I have inspected the installation which is 80% complete and have noticed numerous gaps in the boards- large enough to fit a credit card into. The end cuts in a number of places are also uneven exposing additional gaps. In our great room I flagged 15-20 gaps before stopping to count.

We had planned 2 1/4" boards but my builder informed me his supplier had excess supply of the 3 1/4" if the same #1 quality for a cheaper price. My builder is someone I trust and have worked with on past remodels with our current home. I have no reason to question the integrity of my builder.

From reading other posts on this forum it looks like I have a bad installation. Repairing these gaps feels like a stretch given the number of gaps- reluctantly I feel like the floor should be pulled up and re-installed (Ideally with a new installer).

My question is what grounds do I have to demand this action (vs. allowing the easier "repair" - which feels sub-standard for a 5,000 sq ft house custom build). Is this on the Builder, installer or supplier (if the boards have milling issues)?

Any insight on my rights to make demands for a change are appreciated. FYI.. this construction is in North Carolina.



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I would want to know if it's the install, or the way the wood was milled. When you encounter the gaps, do they run the entire length of the board, or vary? If the boards weren't milled properly, or if they're warped, wouldn't that affect the installation?

Has your builder commented on the job? Also, what is the repair available to you, meaning what would be done to make it better? I agree that it is hard to imagine how you could repair it, since moving one board will affect the next board, and so on.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:10PM
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It is definitely installation. If the gaps are to that point, the wood is not to be installed. It is probably a wood issue, but the installer is at fault for installing them. And if the builder hired the installer, the it's ultimately on the builder. If a credit card fits in the gaps, make them tear it out. Pretty simple. The un squareness at the end joints is ridiculous as the installer has no excuse for using the wood.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Gaps on hte ends of planks are poor workmanship since the chang ein length is small enough to be insignificant with moisture changes.

Gaps between boards on their length could be poor installation, poor milling, or even poor drying.

If the wood is dryer than it should be gaps may be needed to allow for the expansion that WILL occur.

If the wood is wetter it can be installed tighter since it WILL shrink as it dries.

Chapter 3 of the 'Wood Handbook' covers moisture-size variation for wood.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wood Handbook, Chapter 3

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:59AM
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