BIG gaps in new hardwood floor!

61tinkerbellMay 31, 2008

We are just moving into our new home and we installed an Anderson engineered wood flooring (5" planks). We noticed that they didn't let the wood floors acclimate at all, they came on day 1 and started installing. We assumed that were acclimating at their shop as we discussed this with the flooring company, and he went on to tell us that it is important.

Anyway, we are now moving in and I am really just "seeing" the floors now, because they were just too dirty/dusty since the install date to really inspect. Even at our walk-thru yesterday, I noted that I can't really "see" the floors.

So, I am cleaning them now and see BIG gaps. There are many gaps as thick as a dime, but there are a few gaps that are as thick as a quarter, and 2 gaps - that I can take a ruler and measure! (I didn't yet) but I'd say 2 of them are at least 1/8" wide. To make it worse - they are trying to hide it and filled it with a brown soft putty - (maybe furniture wax). It is very noticeable to me.

What are my options!!?

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Have you paid your final $$? That's the only thing that usually makes for any leverage. In an installation that voids the manufacturer's warranty, you're left with the install company that presumably warrants their work. Start there. Or your GC for the build. But, I wouldn't hold my breath in this down construction climate.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 5:43PM
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"We assumed that were acclimating at their shop as we discussed this with the flooring company, and he went on to tell us that it is important."

Acclimating has to take place where it is going to be installed because temperature and humidity vary from one building or house to the next. By not acclimating the wood where it was to be installed with the HVAC system up and running, and this can be a long process - one or two weeks! - I would suspect they have voided the warranty. So it would be up to the installer (or place where you bought it if they are the same) to make it right.

If you don't have any luck with the retailer, I would contact Anderson, tell them what happened and let them deal with the retailer. That's a big company - I would think that they would want their retailers following instructions or they would pull their product from that store.

As the above poster said, if you or your builder have not paid the final bill to the retailer/installer then you may have some leverage for them to fix it.

Filling the gaps is not an acceptable "fix". They made a pretty huge error in the initial install.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 9:14PM
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Just one other suggestion: Beg, borrow or steal a digital camera and take lots of pictures with a date stamp. If you can stick dimes, pennies, or quarters in the gaps, by all means photograph that too.

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 6:09AM
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Thanks everyone. I had a feeling this was going to be a big issue! I do have a digital camera, but what is the best way to "date stamp" this so that it actually shows the real date? I have seen people hold a newspaper next to item, is this the best way? I will be addressing both the floor and builder on this issue... unfortunately, they have been paid.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 6:47AM
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and is the only way to "fix" this is to tear out and relay the floor? I have not inspected all areas yet, as we just moved in and the rooms are filled with boxes.

What is an acceptable gap size? This is our 3rd or 4th hardwood floor, and I have never recall having many gaps, just a few, here and there.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 6:52AM
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What a drag!! 5 inch wood will have a tendency to gap a little but with the engineered you figured you had it covered I bet. May have to gat a wood flooring inspector. How many feet did they put down?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 10:16PM
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As far as dates on photos, you need to check the date set in the camera to make sure its correct. Probably in the SETUP menu. If your camera has a POSTCARD shooting mode, you can turn the date/time display on. Postcard mode is probably not a good way to shoot all the photos you may need - I'd only shoot one that way. Otherwise the newspaper is probably the easiest way to go.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 7:02AM
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I am so sorry this happened to you!! I hope you can get a good resolution from it. As far as allowable gaps on a new install?? NONE. Hardwood does expand and contract a bit, but it contracts in the winter when the humidity is low. If it's shrinking now, it will do so even worse in the winter and the gaps will get larger. You need a new floor. There is no way to fix this, and putty crammned in the joints is totally unacceptable.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 8:13AM
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I am going to post pictures here - and use that as a date, since I can't figure out a time stamp on the camera (don't you have to manually set the date anyways?). I still need to clean the floors and inspect.

The whole downstairs is hardwood - about 2500 sq feet! Most of the gaps are small, dirt collectors, a hair over 1/32", however, the big one is 1/8" wide - filled with putty!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 9:44AM
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I also expected my wood to be delivered at least a week early, and asked about it about three weeks before the install. Here's what i was told at that time:

"There is no real need to acclimate the wood. It is trucked in fresh from the mill, and has a moisture content about right for our conditions here. In the "old days", flooring sat in boxcars for weeks and weeks, then sat in unheated warehouses for indeterminate periods of time. Acclimation is an old rule, not a bad one, but we don't have the extremes of moisture content that existed years ago, just based on modern handling techniques."

Another thing i can fret over. Is it just a matter of time before my new floors have similar gaps to the original poster?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 11:08AM
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As I am cleaning, and marking gaps with painters tape - I think it was installed incorrectly, as boards are tight one end, and then has a gap on the other - so they are crooked! I don't see how they will fix this, unless they remove and replace. I paid the final drawer on Friday, I contacted the builder and haven't heard back yet.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 1:35PM
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I'm so sorry you're going through this, tinker. It's such a huge frustration when things aren't done with even a modicum of consideration for quality. I hope you get this resolved to your satisfaction with minimal upheaval.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 2:23PM
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Let the dance begin. is a good place for you to get real educated on what your about to partake in.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 5:37PM
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Some use of colored floor fill is acceptable in a prefinished install. The number of gaps and widths, and the amount of filler used, may be beyond expected and acceptable limits in your case.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 6:21PM
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glenn, can you explain in detail a little more? Use to fill 1/8" gaps is acceptable? Are 1/8" gaps even acceptable? I have never seen a floor with big gaps like this. in one 10 x 10 area I have about 15 gaps that nickels, pennies, dimes and quarters fit in. I am sure that they will not fix it without a battle, and I can tell DH thinks we are stuck, but gee whiz, if you bought a new $30,000 car, and the dash board worked, but was crooked, and the windows worked, but didn't close all the way... you'd make them fix it. I really feel that they should have to fix this. I need to find my camera

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 9:30PM
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Floor company came out and inspected, and did agree with the gaps in the main too areas and said it did need to be corrected. They will be doing so within the coming week. I did ask how they plan to do it, and they said they "have a way and I won't even notice it when they are done". As far as the other gaps all over, they do seem to shrink and expand here and there. The said that because my wood is on a concrete slab, without an added moisture barrier, that in time - they expect all gaps to close.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 8:05AM
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Glad that the floor company is willing to fix the problem. My comment about use of colored fill in a prefinished floor install is just to inform readers that it is typically used to fill minor gaps and other minor blemishes in a prefinished install. Your gaps certainly are not anything that these fillers are meant to correct.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 8:59AM
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The thing with fillers on prefinished is, it is real difficult to match the wood color or graining exactly. Big gaps tend to stick out. When I see gaps on the end as you describe, a quick measurement of the boards width, and a check of the moisture content, and it will tell me if the flooring may not be milled at consistent moisture content. One board here and one board there is acceptable in the shipment, but it is culled out and not used, for this very reason.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 9:43AM
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which climate do you live in ? I had a similar problem to yours a long time ago;
nothing could be done because my floor guys filed bankruptcy. The floor gaps would close in the summer and reopen in the winter, that was that.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 3:27PM
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mitchdesj, I am in Florida, we have heat on probably 50 days of the year at the most.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 7:52AM
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I'm glad they're willing to fix some of your problems, but it seems odd to me that they installed the flooring over concrete without any moisture barrier. Even with engineered wood floors, isn't some kind of moisture barrier usually required? Either physical barrier like plastic under or over the slab, or a glue-type barrier?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 2:21PM
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there is a moisture barrier under the slab - they wanted to add their own 'optional' glue type sealer to the top of the slab (for $3,500). That is what they are referring to as no moisture barrier.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 7:51AM
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