Hardwood installation - No expansion gap or something else?
I recently purchased and installed a beautiful maple hardwood floor in our condo and it looks gorgeous. We were advised by the installer that hardwood would be suitable for a concrete condo but that we would need a plywood subfloor. (In my research and discussions with other tradesmen later, this was not the wisest decision.) A few weeks have passed since the installation and the floors have started to buckle in one in every five boards and overlap in other locations. After raising my concern with my installer, he has given me the following reasons for the current conditions:
- We should get some UV block for the windows so that we are not cooking the wood and overexposing it to extreme elements.
- The wood is alive and thus will move in drastic weather changes. We live in the NYC/NJ area and the temperature and humidity has fluctuated somewhat but I would hardly call it "extreme" or "drastic".
- It is imperative to keep the apartment in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.
- The floors will return to normal after a year of acclimation.
Is this much buckling normal? I've been to uninhabited and condemned homes built in the 1800s with original wood floors that look better than mine. (This was a Habitat for Humanity site.) He says he installed the hardwood with more than a sufficient amount of glue and nails but he didn't leave an expansion gap. Due to the reasons stated above, he is refusing to return to the job site.
My concern is: Is this the responsibility of the owner or the installer? How important is the expansion gap? I've already sent the installer pictures and consulted the owner of the flooring store, an architect friend, and a contractor friend and they have all said that this is the responsibility of the installer. Is this true? I've also shared their opinions with them and it seems to bear no weight to my issue. To make matters worse, I've already paid him the final payment and have been warned that this is a hit and run.
Please help! No matter what I've said to him, he simply brushes me off with more excuses and refuses to return. They have advised me not to tell him about the expansion gap until he returns but I can't seem to get him to return. Should I threaten to report him to the local Consumer Affairs Department or do I have other options?
Also, if anyone else with hardwood floors installed over plywood in their concrete condo could chime in and tell your experience, I would very much appreciate it. Thanks!