Any acceptable-size gaps in new flooring install?

mentsminDecember 6, 2011

Hello all,

Long-time reader, first-time poster. Please note that I did review prior threads on this subject, but it's still not clear to me whether I'm being unrealistic or not.

We are in the middle of a living room renovation. Today we had flooring laid over an area of about 350 sq. ft. The product is cali bamboo "fossilized," standard width. The installation was a glue down over a slab. The planks were allowed ample time to acclimate prior to installation.

The floor looks great overall; however, it is unfortunately in my nature to find very small flaws in things I expect to be [near] perfect and then semi-obsess over them, so here we are.

There are unsightly gaps between both joints at the end of some planks and along the sides of others. I didn't go over every square inch of the floor [yet], but only gaps two appeared to allow enough space for a credit card (and it was a tight fit). Others would allow a business card to fit.

Here are some photos (it looks like they might not come up as links. What am I doing wrong?):

I'm sure those aren't the best, so let me know if there's any way to take better ones.

Is it just unrealistic to demand 'perfection' in a new floor install? Assuming these gaps are in error, is there any correction possible, short of ripping them up?

Thanks in advance for your responses.

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Those are not gaps they are
1) the v groove
2) normal butt ends
Unless you sand and finish a floor smooth to remove the groove, that is normal for prefinised flooring.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 4:50PM
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Thank you for the response.

Is it normal that they are inconsistent from piece to piece? Some appear to nearly flush with each other (though of course there is a groove), and others (as I mentioned above) allow a credit card to pass through.

Having another day to look at it, I think most of the places that jump out to the eye are probably OK. There are a few butt ends that I do believe might have slipped out of place, allowing too much space between the pieces.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 7:46PM
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Hi mentsmin,

Just a lay person here. I see what you mean. They look like gaps to me from here not just the v groove. I believe the floor should be tight after install. But with normal expansion and contraction during seasonal changes, you will probably have some of those anyway down the road. Unless the humidity in your home is kept consistent.

Are there many?

Gluedowns are a bear to remove when they're shot. I'm not sure if they can replace individual boards or not.

Consider yourself lucky you didn't end up with an install like mine. Who did you have do the floor? Have you called yet?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 9:27PM
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There are not many, and really only a few that I'm concerned with (though I'm also annoyed that in two places, several alternating boards were laid in the same relative position without being staggered, which draws the eye and is distracting).

I'm irritated that this wasn't caught in the first place--because obviously ripping up the floor and fixing it would be a headache, even if I done bear the cost (which of course isn't even certain).

My contractor's floor guy did the install, who allegedly has been installing floors for decades or something. We're still mid-project at this point, so I've only paid half the bill.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 10:18PM
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I know your pain.

It might be difficult to keep those glued boards from moving apart when it's still wet. They're supposed to strap them together as they go. Did you see anything like that going on? They will likely blame you or your house. Or the manufacturer.

I'm headed into a gluedown in the next rooms but will be having someone else do them. The naildown was somehow a disaster. Who knew.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 1:52AM
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Its a milling issue with the manufacturer when sizes vary between boards that do not allow a tight fit when tapped together properly, or any out of square ends that causes gapping.

Gapping when there are no out of square ands or piece size differentials is an improper installation issue wher ethe boards were not tapped into place properly or moved during the installation process.

Best you can do is file a claim with the manufacturer and ask for an independent inspection, then go from there. You can do this through the retailer and see what they say. Or you can go straight to the manufacturer circumventing the retailer of you think they are trying to screw you.

What I see in those pictures are end joints that might not ahve been properly tapped together and I see possible manufacturing defect in milling from the manufacturer. Its difficult to tell for certain without a physical inspection.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 2:55PM
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I think you're right in that the gaps between the long sides of the boards (in a few places, but one that's quite prominent) are due to a milling issue; however, I'm of the opinion they shouldn't have used the board in that case.

I'm still waiting to see what the contractor and installer has to say, but I'm not confident that they'll want to fix it (or will even recognize a problem), and at this point fixing it will be quite an ordeal.

One other quick question, floorman--am I correct in thinking that alternating boards should not be laid in the same relative position to each other (creating a - - - - line)? Is this something I should have requested? I thought it went without saying, but there are two places in our room where numerous (5 plus) alternating boards were laid in a line.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 5:50PM
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They're supposed to check the boards before they go down for bowing, defects, etc. Even do what they call dry racking boards to get the desired pattern effect and mix before installing them. I don't know how many installers take the time to do that or if it is the norm. If they had trouble fitting a board, it should have been pulled. I think when nailing they can push it a bit because it's being fastened in place. Glue takes time to dry so shifting from the force of the defect could occur.

The boards should have a staggered spacing, minimum of 6" between adjacent end joints. My guys paid attention to the last four rows they were working to not repeat a joint too closely. I don't know what the standard is there.

Looking at floors, you will see all sorts of things and this doesn't always happen. But putting five boards the same in a row, or even two for that matter, is pretty bad.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 6:05PM
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If it is brand new then it would be installed incorrectly. For the record, inspectors normally will use a credit card for thickness as a gauge. I believe it is a shoddy job by an installer.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 12:44AM
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