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Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Posted by threeapples (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 10, 13 at 15:38

The floors are done, with the exception of one last coat of polyurethane. I only have a few floors to compare with, but to me the "seams" between the boards looks large and the planks don't look flat. My husband noticed some areas where it appears they sanded "waves" into the planks and you can see patterns from the sander. I'm more concerned about the seams. Does anyone have comments based on these images? Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Here are some more photos:  photo 87E430EE_zps6c0145c8.jpg

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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

What ever happened to the cupping of the hardwoods? Looks like these are the same boards?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

That's what you get when the wood dries out in the winter. Wood shrinks. With wide planks, you get even more shrinkage proportionate to the boards width. It's about as authentic of an old home detail as you can get. All of the old homes I've lived in or visited have always had those gaps in the winter. They'll close back up in the summer when the heat and humidity hit.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

We've had what the flooring guys and builder say are ideal humidity levels for the past few months. Might the gaps fill in?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

If these are the same floors as had the extreme cupping, then no, they'll never be "normal". They have edge crush. It happens when the humidity is so high as to cause the extreme expansion of the wood board to board. Then, they cup upwards. The fibers on the edge become crushed because of the boards expanding into the other, and it creates a permanent gapping situation, even in summer when the humidity is high enough to make the wood swell again.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Yes, these are the same floors. :( they wouldn't replace them because they said they would be perfect after sanding. I don't think they're prefect, but maybe my expectations are too high?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

they aren't perfect...I don't think your expectations are too high, especially for what appears to be a higher end detailed build...


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Any suggestions as to what we should do/how to handle it?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Mcclelland, they had us adjust our humidity and said the floors were no longer cupped. They did improve, but I'm wondering if there is residual damage and that's why they look like this. As I stated earlier, I don't know if I'm being overly picky or if truly these are not ideal.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

They look fine to me. I don't think you can know now whether or not the gaps will close up in summer.

I would be unhappy about the waves in the wood. I don't think that should happen if you have professionals sanding the floors. Do they feel smooth?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

No, they don't feel smooth. None if these photos show the waves. It's hard to get good images because of the glare.

There are several cracked boards and boards with chunks of wood missing. Will replacing those cause the whole area to be resanded and stained?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I think hollysprings nailed it. either enjoy what you have or replace it, i don't think repairing anything will get you to your expectations. I think your floor guys should have taken care of this back when the problem was first detected.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I can't make them replace it, unfortunately. We brought that up to them last year and they insisted things would be perfect in the end. Now I'm stuck.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Last year you should have insisted back (and louder) to the flooring guys and builder that it was NOT acceptable. Yes, you are stuck now ... unless you and your DH decide to stand up for what you paid for and insist it be changed. Do you still owe money to the builder? That would be your only leverage.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

If they insisted it would be fine in the end, and you waited, on their word, and now it is not fine, I think they still need to replace it. They did things out of order--assuming you didn't dictate the order.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Let's see.... you made it clear way back when the boards were cupped so badly (and they were awful) that you either wanted them replaced before finishing or reassurance that post finishing, they'd be perfect.

Seems clear as can be to me that your builder needs to handle this issue and provide you with perfect lovely floors as both he and the flooring company promised. Those aren't.

If you haven't paid for character grade wood then there shouldn't be missing chunks or ragged joints. And no matter what the character grade you should expect no cupping, waving or gapping.

Either you decide to live with it or you have them fix it. It's their choice of how they fix them.... replacement or trying to repair what's already there. Your house is too lovely to accept such substandard work and your builder needs to step up to the plate for once and demand better work from his subs.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

We didn't dictate any of the process because we are not professionals. We let them and the builder determine when to put them in and how to handle it all, figuring that, if their promise of perfect floors did not come through, it would be on them to fix them. I'll keep you updated.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

The flooring company are not subs of our builder, but he has worked with them many times before. He agreed the floors are not perfect and we are meeting with the floor guy in a few days to explain all of the issues. My husband is intent on not telling them how to do their jobs because, if we do and they follow our suggestions, they can point back at us if things don't work out properly. I'm pretty disappointed and the more I look at them the more I think that they should look better. I know many people who have hardwood floors that don't look like this and I just don't want to settle with ours because "wood is natural and has imperfections." Everybody's natural wood has imperfections, but I think ours was caused by being installed in the wrong environment.


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I don't think that the floor looks bad. This is a solid, site finished floor, correct? I think it is good looking (maybe a bit too dark).

It'll always shrink and expand and gaps will vary. Solid isn't as stable as engineered click/lock.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Yes, it is solid wood, site finished. It looks darker in these photos than in person, but its not a light stain by any stretch. We are very happy with the color.


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Yes, it's normal for wood floors to have some gapping in the winter, especially the wider planks. Looking at yours, there still appears to be a slight blow to them though, and if that's the case, then they aren't done drying out and will have even more gaps when they do. And those gaps will never go away with the edge crush issue.

So, the builder didn't hire the flooring subs? Who did? If YOU hired the flooring subs directly, then the builder has no place in the conversation at all. The flooring people answer to you, and you only. YOU are technically acting as the GC by hiring subs directly, and the problems become yours to correct. If the flooring people won't correct them, the only recourse is now nothing. You have no leverage because you'll never hire them again, and the GC has no leverage because he didn't hire them in the first place.

Are there any other subs that you've hired directly? Or are they the only ones?


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The only sub we hired directly was the tile setter.


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How do I know if I have edge crush? Is that what is caused by the cupping we had awhile back, or just a potential issue that is not yet visible? An U alone in seeing cupping still? Is that what you mean by the "blow" to them?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

A subcontractor is someone hired by your general contractor to perform work. Often the carpentry crew, lead carpenter/foreman or finish carpenters are full time employees of the GC and so aren't technically subs.

So yes your flooring people are subs hired by your GC.

You say there are chunks of wood missing, waves sanded into the wood, patterns from the sander, large seams, cracked boards and the boards aren't flat. Why do you need reassurance that something is wrong?


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I know the chunks of missing wood and cracks are unacceptable, but I don't know if what I'm seeing is truly cupping or if I'm expecting perfection from a natural product. In other words, do my floors look like properly laid hardwood floors or is my feeling that they don't look great accurate?

*edited to correct typos.

This post was edited by threeapples on Mon, Mar 11, 13 at 17:59


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

It does look like the wood in an old house.

But, that's probably not what you wanted. If you wanted something that was as smooth as glass with no gaps, then part of the issue is the material selection itself. You would have wanted narrower boards that don't expand and contract as much. Even then, with the amount of moisture in a new home and those installed when they were installed, you would have probably still had problems. Most of the issues here are install related. 90%.

As for what the "solution" is, it's the same one that should have been done earlier when they cupped so badly: replacement. As to whether or not that will happen, that depends entirely on your contract and who that contract is with. And that is unclear. You say the flooring contractors are not subs of your builder, but that you didn't hire them directly. There really isn't a third choice here! Someone signs their checks! Who is that someone? Whomever it is is whom the contract is between, and that's the person who has to attempt to persuade them to make you whole by replacing them. They may choose to walk away completely rather than do that if the contract is between you and them. They might even choose that if the contract is between them and the builder since they obviously followed the schedule that the builder set for them and installed the floors under his directed timetable. They should have stood up and told him he was full of crap on installing the floors before the home was dried out.

Hopefully, the builder has enough leverage to get them to do a replacement on the labor end. Since the builder controlled the scheduling on this build, and should know the order of operations and when and how the floors should have been laid, he shares in the blame, and in fact, would be my primary suspect as the one who should have the lion's share. He should purchase the new flooring materials for the installers to put down. And you or your husband should accept no less. It shouldn't be just another time that you roll over for him and let him get away with shoddy work just because he's beyond his depth. You actually have to live in this house.


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The builder pays the flooring guys. I don't n know whose idea it was to install the floors when they were put down, but I voiced my opinion that it was not the right time. Even if my builder told them to install them without doors on the house, completed drywall, completed tile, etc., they should have known better and said the conditions were not right. I hear floors should not go in until humidity-causing work is complete.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

My husband 's concern is that ripping them out would severely damage the sub floor. If we left the floors as they are is there a chance they might get worse, look more cupped in the future, because they retained moisture for so long last year, or is this likely the worst they will look?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Sorry to say this, but they will likely get somewhat worse before the wood reaches its final winter-time, inside moisture level. The wood will come together in higher outside humidity months, but each winter will return to that season's equilibrium point; an equilibrium point I would guess you haven't yet reached even with the furnace running for the last several months. This is the behavior I have observed in floors that were installed under proper environmental conditions. From your earlier posts it was pretty clear your floors had extra moisture from the start. This is all really unfair to you.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Ohbldr, will ripping them out cause major damage to the sub floor? The wood was not glued, just nailed.
Yes, it's very unfair and I'm pretty irritated.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

If you used OSB for a subfloor, I would assume some damage to the subfloors...but it's on the flooring contractor to remedy any subfloor damage...no?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

So I actually have a past experience with hardwood floors that resulted in my flooring subcontractor having to remove the initial floor and install a new one. This was in 2007, and after being in their new home for about 8 months my owner called to say that she was experiencing excessive movement and squeaking in the wood floors. The wood was 3/4" x 2-1/4" cherry and was installed, sanded, and finished on-site. After taking a look I knew something unusual was happening and sensed that the floors would probably need to be replaced (a first for me). I engaged a specialist who came on-site and collected a few boards out of a closet where it would not be seen and they took it back to their laboratory for testing. They determined that the tongues and the grooves of the boards had been milled to an improper tolerance at the factory such that their fit was too loose. This wasn't immediately evident when the floor was installed; the installers still had to knock the adjacent boards together into place before nailing them down. Only when things dried out did this discrepancy become manifest. My owners went on vacation for a week, and we accomplished the replacement during this time. The subfloor was plywood and there was no issue with respect to it being damaged. Even if your subfloor is OSB it shouldn't make a difference. The mill that produced the floor ended up supplying the new material at no cost and my flooring company handled all the labor. I paid for the initial testing at the laboratory.
I can tell you this process requires someone to be a prime mover to force the issue. As the builder that was my responsibility, not our owner's. My flooring company and the lumber mill would not have corrected this on their own. At first blush the thought of tearing out a hardwood floor and replacing it can seem too radical a step, and trades and suppliers may try to dismiss it as an option. Once someone determines that it IS the course which will be followed it isn't actually that bad. In your case the time to do this is before you move in.


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Replacing it is the best option. Who cares if the subfloor has any damages. It'so n their dollar to replace if they damage it. It wouldn't have been damaged but for their negligence.


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Will this damage our baseboards and cased openings?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

It all will more than likely have to be removed (definitely the base) so it will depend on how carefully the removal is done.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

The normal approach is for the finish carpenters to return and install shoe mold as a final step after the floors are finished. That being the case, you can remove the old hardwood, install and finish new hardwood, and apply the shoe mold. If the hardwood floor people take even a minimal amount of caution they can remove the old hardwood without damaging the baseboard to any significant extent. It can be removed without damaging it at all if they are careful. But if they do ding it the shoe mold will cover up almost an inch above the new floor. Bottom line: you don't have to remove the baseboard.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I agree. They are cupped and should be replaced. I'm so sorry you're going through this. Good luck.

This post was edited by cbusmomof3 on Wed, Mar 13, 13 at 17:12


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Thanks, just needed to know if I was alone in thinking they looked cupped.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

They look okay in the pictures, but if they don't look right in person...make them replace it! You hired this GC and you should push him to make this right. If you let it go much longer, they will never come back and fix them...so take a deep breath, look as imposing as possible and tell them you will not accept these floors.

Also...tell them that all of GW is watching and waiting to see if they plan to do the right thing :)


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

We had our meeting and the builder and the floor company people said there is nothing wrong with the floors. They said they are not cupping and used a straight edge to see if they are. I'll have to do this myself to be sure. They said they'd use epoxy to fill in the areas where there are chunks of wood missing. This really bugs me and I'm going to have those boards replaced. My husband thinks the floors look fine :( he also thinks that replacing a few boards will mean more damage than necessary and it's not worth it.
The floor company doesn't seem to mind that we are withholding money for awhile, but didn't see that as incentive to replace the floors. He flat out thinks there is nothing wrong with them.


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I would not accept an epoxy fill. What happens then if you want to refinish the floors at a point later down the road?

As for how the floors look in the pic they look like an old house with freshly refinished floors ie not in a brand new house. Not sure how things will change with the seasons though.


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Fill will just get shoved out of the cracks when the summer humid season comes around and they expand again.

You need to hire an independent flooring inspector to come in and assess the situation.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

lyfia and hollysprings, those are both really good points about the epoxy fills. I will bring that up tomorrow. Thanks for the comments. Yes, we do plan to have an independent inspector come out (we did this a few months ago before the floors were finished).


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

My husband continues to repeat that fixing the floors will cause more problems.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I have some cupping in my floors and it is worse in winter (low humidity) and better in summer. To tell you the truth, it is not noticeable unless you're looking for it, and once carpets went down, became almost unnoticeable unless you look for it or catch the sunlight streaming across at the right time of day.

I think your floors look fine (but can only see the pictures) - it sounds like they are not perfect and not up to the standards you paid for, but from a far-away perspective, they look nice. And you said the color is good too (which can create a whole other set of problems if you get uneven staining). Once you get furniture and carpets on them, you probably won't notice the imperfections without hunting for them. Also, once you've lived on them for a couple of years, your own scratches and dents will mask current imperfections.

So, i would say think about whether this REALLY bothers you - if it is absolutely driving you crazy, then make replacement and nothing less your position with the builder. If you can live with them, maybe try to get a cost reduction from them (since you didn't get what you paid for), and move on and maybe use the money for some great rugs :)

To my knowledge (and I may be wrong), there is no structural or long term damage from having gapped or cupped floors. Cupping is a symptom of moisture problems, but if the root cause for the moisture problem has been fixed (which yours is since it happened at install), it's just a cosmetic concern. People get worried about cupping because it means something is up with moisture near the floor, so it needs investigation & correction. Once the problem is corrected, replacement of the boards is optional.

Hope this helps!


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I'm sure the builder and floor company can see/sense that you and your husband are not agreeing on this ... you'd better believe that they are taking advantage of this. To get the prefect new product that you paid for, would require both you and your husband to stand your ground and DEMAND that it be replaced. If you aren't willing to do that, then pay your bills and move on.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

What your husband isn't understanding here is that it doesn't matter if removing the floors causes more problems. If they are wrong, and they are, and the problems were caused by incorrect installation, and they were, then whatever the solution might be, it's up to the builder to own. And that includes any incidental damages that may need to occur when correcting the problem. If this were a sewer pipe that came apart underground, and your landscaper had already sodded the yard, you wouldn't expect them to just dig up the ground and fix the pipe without also fixing the sod. The ancillary damages are part of the fix that the builder needs to pay for.

Yes, if you and your husband are not in accord on this, then it's sure to be exploited by the builder. And it's sure to introduce strife into your relationship as well. If you're not happy with the floors, but your husband is, then you need to pick your battles. You've had enough other issues on this build where having your husband's support to correct is vital.

Perhaps it's time for a mini vacation from all of this. Then after than, a nice long talk about why the issues that you've had seem to bother you more than they do him, and how you can present a unified front no matter the differences behind the scene.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Here is an update: Our builder agreed that the floors are not great and told the company to completely finish one room so we could see what we thought about that space. The "finished" the dining room and literally did not address any of the issues we wanted them to (some boards slightly higher than others, some damaged boards that we said needed replaced, etc). I'm very irritated and my husband is now not happy with them either.

I spent considerable time there today looking at the floor in the master bedroom (I was there painting samples on the wall) and, since the light in there was optimal today, I got a chance to examine the details. It seems like the floors look worse. I can't tell if the stuff they put between the length of the boards to fill in the space has cracked or if the edges of the boards were as jagged as they appear in some of my close-up photos. The polyeurethane they put on (only one coat so far, I think) has left a white cast on the edges of the boards that looks awful. Granted, the house is a dusty mess, but I did clean the area I photographed with a cloth to be fair.

Our builder is going to bring one of the owners of the flooring company to our house for a meeting soon. No matter what happens, we are not paying the remainder of what we owe for at least two more seasons to see how things are if we leave it the way it is.

So, I'd like to hear thoughts on these photos. Does it look like the "filler" is what's cracking, or does it look like the boards were just rough on their edges? This is not the "finished" floor, but I wanted to hear thoughts anyway.
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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

so are you and your husband now willing to
go to the builder and stand together saying
that flooring is unacceptable?
or will this change...with the weather?

wood does expand & contract. using a filler
when the wood has contracted will cause
filler to buckle when the wood expands.
filler isn't a fix, its a band aide.

best of luck.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I don't know how this will turn out. I'll post the result of our meeting. In the meantime, are those jagged edges loose filler, or are we looking at jagged-edged wood? Sorry if this is a ridiculous question, I'm just not clear on what I'm looking at when I see the joints.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Awful, just awful. What a crime to see filler between boards of rift oak.

I gave all my helpful advice in earlier posts in this thread and I'd have never let this progress for another month down the same dead end road.
Here's some advice from someone who's been married for 35 years and built two houses together....

My husband and I had a slightly tongue in cheek saying during the builds of both of our homes. I say slightly because we actually meant it. It worked well for us.

DH is well versed in construction and is detail oriented when it comes to plumbing, wiring and structural details, but he doesn't have an eye for interior detail, colors, style etc.

Our mantra to the builder, subs, and each other once construction began was that with my blessing and minimal input from me, DH "handled" situations, had final say and made decisions on the fly concerning everything from the "plaster back".

If it was going to be seen, in other words if it was from the plaster forward, it was my call.
Obviously we discussed money and we each made suggestions, but in the end he bowed to my opinions on "plaster forward" and I respected his opinions "plaster back." Maybe the opposite is true in some marriages or maybe you've both got an "eye" for things, but for us, it was a clearcut choice.

If this will work for you, ask your husband who has a better eye for detail and interior design. If he knows that it's you then put your foot down and call a halt to this madness. You've worked too hard on this lovely home to accept trashy floors.


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The floors are continuing to dry out and the gaps are increasing. The filler that was placed in them is no longer enough to fill the gaps and it is coming apart. Filler should NEVER be used on floors except for small distinct areas with small localized problem. For the amount of time that it took for them to do that, they could have almost installed a whole new floor. Every bit of effort on this floor has been a complete waste. It should have been replaced from the beginning, but they strung you along and banked on the strife between you and your husband being enough to keep that from happening.

I'd insist that the GC buy new wood and hire a new flooring company to install it. (And make sure that it's the quality of the wood you chose originally and not some cabin grade plain sawn box store crap.) He is the one that caused the whole issue by scheduling the install at the wrong time in the construction sequence. And then these idjuts went along with him. That's NOT who you want doing the new floors.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Thanks to both of you. I texted these photos to my builder and he said he'd pass them along to the partial owner before our meeting. I'm going to talk to my husband about it tomorrow, hopefully convince him to get on board with replacing the floors (and I'll show him the photos on here as he just saw them in small version on my phone earlier) and then just flat out tell them I want them replaced when we have our meeting. What worries me though is that they might come out and say "no." Then what? They're only owed a certain % still, so they might rather lose the remainder than deal with new floors. And, I technically can't force my builder to replace them, right? Any ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks very much.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Hire an totally impartial certified flooring inspector. If the builder chooses to not replace the floors after that report, then you could deduct their cost from the remaining money owed him for the whole build and then hire someone else to come in and replace them. The cost of any damages done due to the replacement should also be deducted. Now, he could file a lien on your home for doing that, but most likely he will not. And a lien is only a problem when you go to sell the home.

Or, the other option would be to pay him what he's owed, but then take him to court for providing you with floors that are defective. That is where the certified flooring inspector's report will carry a lot of weight. However, going to court is pretty much a lose/lose proposition as you are probably over the dollar figure for small claims and would need to hire a lawyer. That will eat up the money, and even if you were awarded compensation and attorney's fees, it's a long standing practice for builder's who have these issues to just declare bankruptcy and then form a completely new company that wouldn't be liable for the previous ones debts.

If they just hadn't tried the fill, you could have at least lied to yourself that the floors were "custom distressed to give the appearance of a 200 year old floor". And maybe settled for some money and gone on your way with not thinking about the problem but the once a week you ran a damp mop over them.

The fill totally RUINS them. RUINS. Your husband can't lie to himself about them now. They look like hell with all of that fill chunking out of them. I guess the good news is that your builder cannot tell you with a straight face that there isn't anything wrong. Unless he's a psychopath that's very skilled in deception. He certainly is skilled at BSing his way past his incompetence.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Unreal! We just had 50-year-old floors refinished and they are GORGEOUS compared to what you have here. This is totally and absolutely unacceptable -- I have never seen anything like it before. You are dealing with idiots or con artists... or maybe some of both. Wake up!


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"Partial owner"??
I've been assuming that all of these screwups were happening on the watch of your GC. Have you been dealing with a construction manager or a building supervisor all this time and not a GC?

Is there an actual owner of a firm building your home who isn't there?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

JUST SAY NO! The buck stops with your GC, so if he doesn't have the floors replaced then you need to deduct the cost of replacement from the remainder of his payments. This is the way 99.9% of us would take care of this issue.

The refinished 12 year old floors downstairs in my house don't look like this and the new 2 year old floors upstairs don't look anything like yours. We have nice tight seams and NO fillers.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Our builder is the owner of the company, I am talking about bringing the partial owner of the flooring company (Ohio Floors) out to see the floor. So far only their sales manager and finishers have met with us. I will demand new floors from the partial owner. My husband said we need to have an independent flooring consultant out to see the floors before this meeting. Should we just call another flooring company to do that?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I know our builder cannot afford to pay for new floors. My husband thinks that because the boards are long and wide there is no way another company will be able to do better. Do any of you have long length 5" floors without these issues?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Wood moves throughout the heating and cooling seasons.

You cannot stop it.
The use of wider planks results in larger gaps in heating season as the wood dries.

If you lay it with zero gap and filler in heating season it will simply proceed to buckle in cooling season when the humidity is higher and the wood expands.

Narrower strips reduce the since of the gaps.

Each piece of wood moves separately since only one side is nailed. The oter side is held in place by the groove trapping the tongue of the next piece.

It sounds like you are asking for something beyond what a real wood floor is capable of doing.

If you want joints that never move you need a floating floor that moves as a single large piece of wood.

With room s the size you have you can then expect inches of required clearance to allow for movement of the wood on at least two sides, and possibly all four.

See Chapter 3 of the 'Wood Handbook' for how wood moves.

Figure 3-3 shows how position in the log affects changes in shape of the wood.

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


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Threeapples,

Below is the name of an inspector I used in 2007. His name is Andrew Fronczek and he would service the area in which you are building.

FloorWorks Inspection Services
36230 Fawn Hill Place
Willoughby Ohio
44094


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I'm ok with gaps. I knew to expect that. I hate the filler and that some boards are higher than others, which us uncomfortable to walk on. I'm guessing its impossible to remove the filler.

Thanks, I'll call Andrew today. I appreciate the info.

Can those of you with wide planks post photos of your floors?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I have 6" wide oak installed this fall. I'm away from home but will post pics this afternoon.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I have 6" wide oak installed this fall. I'm away from home but will post pics this afternoon.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

carefully read holly's posts.
good advice and knowledge in the postings.

make a stand...and stick to it.

or else like other 'issues' this won't be resolved.

best of luck...again


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

If you have a GC there is no reason you should be dealing directly with anyone from the flooring company. The GC signs their checks, and you sign his.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Hope this helps you convince your DH that he's settling and paying for something that is substandard if he thinks 5" boards can't be flat.

Here are our 6" rift and quartered oak floors. We included a percentage of character grade along with the select in order since we wanted some knotholes, color variation etc.

Installed this fall and finished with Waterlox (no stain) in November. Main level of the house, Advantek plywood subfloor with basement below.

 photo file_zps40e7c31c.jpg

I can skate and slide along the floors in my socks and not feel anything but smoothness even at the joints.

I looked around and found some places where you can see what I consider normal wintertime gapping. Here are some closeups..

 photo file_zps9a48884f.jpg

 photo file_zps5e142d99.jpg

This is one of the bigger gaps that I could find and this is a credit card to give you some scale. It won't go down in the crack.

 photo file_zps7e77c0cc.jpg

Looking down the length of few boards.

 photo file_zps193d4c9e.jpg

Looking across.... there are about 13 horizontal joints in this photo as I think I counted 12 boards between the camera and the back of the sofa. As you can see it's flat.

 photo file_zpsac0cd515.jpg


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

We don't directly deal with the flooring company, but have exchanged emails setting up meetings. Today I found a glob of orange-brown rubber in a board that had a large hole in it. Guess they did that in lieu of replacing the board!

This post was edited by threeapples on Tue, Apr 9, 13 at 10:41


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

3apples- Demand they redo these floors! You'll never be happy with this sloppy job...and it will look even worse with your Georgian details throughout your home. So sorry this has happened, but insist that it's done right and I know you'll be glad you fought for your home.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

good info 3apples..but worthless if nothing is resolved.

the many posts of yours deal with how things look.

makes me wonder how much time was spent on
things that you can't change later like
insulation, air sealing & flashing.
if you put half the effort into hvac choice & quality
of install of ductwork, I'd be suprised.

floors will cup when temps are not controlled.
all the things listed above contribute to controlling
both temp & moisture via air leakage.

truly I wish you the best of luck.
& hope that your builder/hvac/ DH
put some effort into things that make the
house comfortable, healthy & affordable to
live in.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

We don't directly deal with the flooring company, but have exchanged emails setting up meetings. Today I found a glob of orange-brown rubber in a board that had a large hole in it. Guess they did that in lieu of replacing the board!

This post was edited by threeapples on Sat, Apr 6, 13 at 16:44


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Unless you are related to the builder, who cares if "can't afford" to buy all new floors for your build. He shouldn't BE a builder then if he can't afford to correct his mistakes. He is an incompetent idiot that has somehow managed to charm you into not holding him accountable. It's the very essence of the con man to hang his head and promise to do better, and then screw you over again. And when he's called on it, he plays on your sympathies. He needs to fold, and not inflict his "services" on anyone else. But only after he's used all of his reserves and any bonds to take care of your problems. He IS licensed and insured, right? Current? Skip dealing with him and file a claim with his carrier first thing on Monday.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Energy rater, I honestly have no knowledge of hvac, insulation, etc., and wouldn't be able to determine whether mistakes were made. We had spray foam insulation and my husband was involved in determining the hvac decisions. Our flashing issues from before have been resolved, so hopefully that's ok. My husband and I divided responsibilities--he has dealt with structural projects and I've dealt with the aesthetics of the house, which is why that's really all my posts are about.

Yes, the builder is licensed and insured. Nope, we're not related.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

so where did you put the foam?
& was load calc done to determine size
of system? what type of hvac system
was installed...and where are the ducts/
equipment located?
was equipment downsized...not rule of thumb
500 sq ft per ton? if not...problems will be
ongoing.

in my hot humid climate we put the
wood flooring in the house several weeks
before install, for it to acclimate.
and of course, understand that wood expands
& contracts.
the first year, if the unit is correctly sized, the hvac system will remove excess moisture from building materials
once wooden flooring has gone through both
heating & cooling season the floors 'settle down'.

Unless a finish is put on the flooring that doesn't
allow moisture to exit the flooring.

I didn't think that you were related to builder.

but I do hope that you'll reach a resolution.
Holly Springs is giving you excellent advice.

best of luck.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I know our builder cannot afford to pay for new floors.

It puzzles me that you even know this. He actually told you this point-blank? Why is this a factor at all?

You buy a new car. The car arrives with doors that have big ugly scratches all over them. You show this to the dealer. He says "Sorry, I can't afford to order you a new car, you'll just have to take the one with the scratches." What would your reaction be? Would you just shrug and say "Oh well, I guess he can't afford to replace it, we'll keep it even though we paid full price for a brand-new car." Somehow I doubt even your husband would say that.

Look: you paid your contractor for very expensive new floors. That's the contract. Nothing else matters, and nobody else in the chain of supply is your problem. If he doesn't provide very expensive new floors, he is in breach of contract. It's up to him to light fires under his non-performing flooring subcontractors, not you.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

so where did you put the foam?
& was load calc done to determine size
of system? what type of hvac system
was installed...and where are the ducts/
equipment located?
was equipment downsized...not rule of thumb
500 sq ft per ton? if not...problems will be
ongoing.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I know of the builder's finances by way of conversations the subs have brought to us. I don't know the direct details. My husband thinks if we demand new floors they will tell us they are acceptable and bring out someone who will attest to that.

I'm looking very forward to talking to the independent inspector.

This post was edited by threeapples on Sat, Apr 6, 13 at 21:57


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

gbsim, your floors are gorgeous and that's what i expected mine to look like. I'll show my husband and my builder your photos. Thanks for taking the time to post them.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Of course your GC is going to give the subs some sad story about his lack of money ... he wants the best deal from the subs.

I would demand new floors first and then negotiate backwards if there truly is a money issue for the GC. Although it really isn't your problem. Ask for 100% and then settle for less, if you have to. You guys are being so passive and easy to manipulate ... the GC has you starting at 0% and hopes you will take 10% and be thankful to him.

This is why some here have been a bit annoyed with you. You ask for help and then state every reason why you can't do what has been suggested ... even when it is the action that 99.9% of us would take to resolve the issue.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Just had a very helpful conversation with a certified flooring inspector who explained that boards of slightly different heights are not professional and that excessive use of filler is also not. He thinks we may have "white line syndrome," and I agree. It is his opinion that we should first meet with the flooring company and find out why we have such large gaps (quarter sawn red oak is not prone to gaps like straight cuts), and see if they can refinish the floors to our expectations. If that meeting produces no helpful results we should have him inspect it and take it from there.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I'm not sure that refinishing the floors is a possibility. With all that filler and the cupping, I'd assume you were looking at new floors. Can't imagine why any reputable flooring company and builder couldn't see this.... hopefully it will all work out for you.

Just so that you are speaking everyones language, you don't have quartersawn wood. Or at least much of it.... most of your wood is rift sawn. It's not quite as stable as quarter, but almost.
Our oak in the photos that I posted above is mix of rift and quarter sawn, probably about 60% quarter to 40 rift and we paid for it accordingly. 100% quarter is more expensive. Your contract should have been clear on the percentage of rift to quarter that you were getting if you were indeed getting a combination of the two. There were several options of percentages with our supplier when we were selecting our flooring.

With your dark stain, it's a bit hard to see in the photographs, but I remember back before it was stained and in the cupping phase, it seemed to be almost all if not entirely rift. If you paid for quarter sawn (which is more expensive), this is another issue with your flooring contractor.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Yes, we did choose the % or rift vs quartersawn. I'll have to ask my husband what that % was and find out. To me I can't really tell the difference, but this is a very good point and I will definitely check on this.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Oops! I got it wrong... I think that rift is more dimensionally stable than quarter.... maybe someone who's a flooring pro can chime in.

The price variance between the two types of wood differs too depending on your width and thickness.

We preferred quarter sawn in general... we used stained oak everywhere, but had problems with some of the woodwork in our house since quarter wasn't available in the wider widths we needed for some of the crown and baseboards. For some of our wood trims, quarter was more expensive and for others it was rift.

Very easy to tell the difference. Rift is very linear.... "straight" lines to the grain. All of the photos I've seen of your wood is rift. Quarter has "flecking", with wavy little swirls and "commas". If you look at my photos above, you can easily pick out the rift and the quarter.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

We are supposed to have 70% rift, the remainder should be quarter-sawn. I have no idea if they followed through on this ratio, however.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Rift is a good choice for you anyway now that I think about your more formal Georgian.
We've got a prairie/craftsman style and wanted to emphasize the grain and character of the wood. You've got more important detailing in your moldings etc and don't need your floor competing for attention.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

•Posted by chispa (My Page) on Sat, Apr 6, 13 at 22:07

This is why some here have been a bit annoyed with you. You ask for help and then state every reason why you can't do what has been suggested ... even when it is the action that 99.9% of us would take to resolve the issue.


I really hope you get your issue resolved but this post couldn't have summed it up any better about how I feel when I read your post and the reason I normally never respond! As stated several times stick up for yourself and don't roll over to a little resistance. You aren't asking for anything extra, just what you paid for!!!!


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Flat sawn, quarter sawn, rift sawn, it all still moves.

Quarter sawn is usually marginally less, and tends to marination its rectangular shape slightly better than other cuts, but it ALL still moves.

See the link below to the Wood Handbook and look at figure 3-3.

If you look in the tables you will notice that tangential ad radial shrinkage are NOT the same percentage.

the closer the are the more stable the shape of te wod is.

The limited change in humidity indoors compared to outdoors meas you will not see the full movement of wet to oven dry, but it still will show.

If you had a floor ten feet wide that moved 1%, that is still a total change in width of 1.2 inches.
If you have strips 2.5 inches wide there are 48 strips to get to 10 feet.

Each moves about 0.05 inches, about 3/64 inch.

Use 5 inch wide pieces and the total movement stays the same, but there are fewer gaps. They double in size though.

They are going to be from around 0 when tight in the summer to about 0.1 inch in the winter.

NOTHING can stop this movement except a perfectly constant humidity.
It can never vary.

While it is possible to control humidity tightly, almost no residential HVAC system does all that much to control it.

Most do not even sense it unless you add a humidifier and then it at least adds some moisture during heating season.

Systems that control for humidity normally chill the air year round to remove water, then re-heat and humidify back to the desired point.

Think of your heating AND cooling being on year round.

Even museums usually only do it in side small cases.

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


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

3apples- I know it's difficult to be the only one in the room to stand up for something...even when you know you're right. I'm so glad your DH and inspector are backing you, now. It's not always easy to insist that things be done right...but I'm very proud of you for not backing down :)


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Brickeyee, I know it will move and expand. I don't like that the wood wasn't sanded evenly or the cracking filler between the planks.

I spoke with two local hardwood flooring companies today and both told me filler should be used minimally, not the entire length of boards for the very reason I have illustrated. Both thought it very unprofessional our wood was installed before exterior doors and before the house was in live able condition.

I'm still waiting on the meeting with the flooring company owner and to hear back from the inspector upon sending him more info and photos.

Thanks, Lavender.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Hindsight is 20/20, most everyone told you that when they first started installing the flooring. Get it changed now before you move in, once your in with furniture it will be a royal PITA and then a greater expense to the builder as he will have to pay to move and protect your furniture, clean the entire house thoroughly as well as inconvenience the hell out of you!


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Yeah, it's all well and good that everyone keeps harping that the builder is responsible. Yes, the builder is responsible for making sure his floor mess is completely corrected down to the subfloor and beyond.

But in the real world, the builder is hardly ever held to his responsibilities. Why? Because you have to sue. What do most homeowners prefer to do? They prefer to finish their house instead of spending their dwindling money on trying to get water from a stone.

Good luck, 3apples. Push as hard as you can to make the floors and anything else right.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

HVAC needs to be on and running, and all the painting done before the floors are even installed (let alone the doors being installed to let the HVAC operate).

Painting puts a huge amount of humidity into the house, and that needs to be removed before the flooring goes in.

This sounds like a screw up from start to finish.

Whomever tried to fill the gaps was probably trying to respond to your complaints.

when very wide planks used to be used for floors (think 19 inch wide pine) it was not uncommon to fill the resulting gaps with rope and other soft materials that at least helped fill the gaps while still allowing movement.

Few of these floors have survived since they rarely had adequate T&G and had multiple nails in the face to hold them down leading to splitting when shrinkage occurred.

The advent of central heat did not improve things much.

The GC knows he has you in a bad spot.
You want the job finished and the house habitable.
Delay plays against you.

You can have all the inspections you want, and look back with 20-20 hindsight on what was done incorrectly, but none of this will get the job completed.

Sounds like a less than well experienced GC and the same for the floor installer.

Probably the only thing you can practically do at this point is get some money back, like the entire cost of the defective floor installation and the materials wasted on the job.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

kellyeng, 3apples has the advantage right now. They have not closed yet, so I'm assuming they still owe the GC a fair amount of money. Once 3apples closes then it will be much harder or impossible to get the builder to fix anything. Why would they have to sue if they haven't paid for everything yet? The 3apple family needs to demand they get the product that is in the contract or just accept a damaged/inferior product, move on and never bring it up again.

If they still owe money to the GC, why pay him for shoddy work? If there is a loan involved, can you get support from your bank rep? Why would they want to lend on a shoddy product? Can they pressure the builder? Did/does the bank have a relationship with the GC?

Based on what I paid for hardwood 2 years ago, I'm assuming this is at least a $50k problem (retail cost, hardwood on 2 floors).


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Chispa, only 3apples knows how much financial influence she has over her builder.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I don't feel comfortable posting financial information online, but, yes, we have financial leverage. There are drawbacks to this, however.

I still have not heard about a meeting time yet, but am really hoping it still happens this week.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

"Yes, if you and your husband are not in accord on this, then it's sure to be exploited by the builder. And it's sure to introduce strife into your relationship as well. If you're not happy with the floors, but your husband is, then you need to pick your battles. You've had enough other issues on this build where having your husband's support to correct is vital. "

this is a very good point.
as are several made in this thread.
movement of wood,,,floating flooring use of fillers etc.
but none of it solves anything if it isn't put into effect.

expecting perfect just isn't going to happen,
having the correct install should be the goal.

the reason I asked twice about where the foam
insulation was installed, and if load calc was done for
hvac is for a good reason. granted you can't see it..which
seems to be your main view, but different types
of foam insulation allow moisture to exit, others don't.
hvac removes humidity. high relative humidity inside
a house will cause wood to swell. low rh causes it
to shrink.
new builds have a lot of RH. moisture content of lumber
used for framing, subfloor...sheetrock mud, paint all
add to RH load.

wooden flooring should always be put inside the house
several weeks prior to install....with hvac system running.
this acclimates the wood so that you don't have cupping
gaps etc.

I realize that this is an excellent place to vent your
building frustrations...but ignoring the good advice you
get here isn't solving anything.

understand that you are one house. GC will build other
houses & has a working relationship with insulator, hvac company, flooring co...and so on.
each will do cya for each other so that the warranty
runs out. and then you are left with substandard
flooring...brick whatever flavor it is today.
they build and move on..you live there.

the one advantage you have is that the gc hasn't been
paid in full. and having been to court for my own clients...it doesn't often go the way you want.
its that cya good ol boy network.

you & your husband need to chose what you can
live with and can't live with.
complaining about every little thing puts you on
gc/builder/sub's sh!t list.
not saying it is fair...but it is the way it is.
construction is a tough field with good and bad
players.

chose your battles, stick to your guns & keep your
complaints short to the point, factual & without
getting on an emotional rollercoaster, as it will
only make things worse. let your husband handle
it if you can't distance yourself from your feelings.

it isn't about making friends...it is about getting what
you paid for in a huge investment that you will live
in for years.

IMO this thread is like a train wreck...one can't help
but see the latest advent.
I'm not trying to put you on the defensive, but as
a woman in a man's field of work...these are
the things I've learned.

best of luck.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

I have spent the last half hour or so reading this interesting thread. only until energy rater and brickeyee piped in did anyone go to the root cause of the problem, humidity loading and not acclimatizing the wood product prior to install.

Those floors are an utter abomination. I wouldn't accept that quality of workmanship for garage siding.

Why isn't this scenario on the flooring forum?

And yes you have been given some good advice and some great advice however you seem to not heed most of it after you have asked for help. For example meeting with the owner of the flooring company, He can say, yes Madam that floor needs to be replaced but unless Mr. GC pays me to do it all over again I won't. You shouldn't even know his name.

In Ontario when there is a dispute between builder and customer and money is withheld those funds are held by a third party to show that the homeowner is simply trying to not pay for a product or service, it holds much more water down the line when a dispute goes to Superior Court. I don't think you are willing to go that far based on how I perceive your personality.

All or most builders cry poverty, it appeases the subs. one rule of business is to never let it be known to employees or creditors where one resides. Hard to cry poor when there is 1/2 million dollars in cars and a 50' boat moored at your private dock at your Mc Mansion.

Very interesting thread, good stuff for a HGTV reality show.

I feel for you, now go out and insist your GC replace that mess or you will spend every waking moment using every social media tool to tell everyone that will listen what type of a GC you ar dealing with. It is only liable when you spew an untruth, there isn't anything untrue about this mess as far as I can see.

Good Luck and find your backbone or cover the floor with carpeting and be done with it.

I thought there was an organization in the US that arbitrates such flooring disputes?


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Three Apples, what color is your floor finished? That is a very nice color over a large area. We are having new hardwood installed in a couple of weeks. The quarter sawn boards are gorgeous.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

Pscott,sorry that I just saw your question. The color is a custom blend.

I have no updates. I still don't like the floors and regret the whole situation. The company doesn't seem to care about my dissatisfaction. I'd never recommend them and wish we didnt use them.


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RE: Is this what finished hardwood floors should look like?

While it’s hard to show the imperfections in floor sanding in a picture, the “seams” between boards are cracks, which have been caused by the wood floor drying out due to improper or no acclimatization.
The “waves” are also the result of improper sanding. The belt sander, when going down the boards, leaves some lines that are more noticeable on lower grids like 36-60 grid, and even more noticeable when the person that sands the floor doesn’t keep the machine straight during sanding.
A color like yours, which seems to be walnut, is even more sensitive to sanding mistakes since, the darker the stain, the more obvious imperfections are.
In order for your floor to look right, the installation and sanding process, should’ve been done along these lines:
Installation:
• Install all the doors in the house
• Install the HVAC system and a humidifier with it
• Turn HVAC on, set it at 69-70 degrees, and the humidifier at 35%
• Bring the wood in and allow it to sit in the unit, for about a week
• Install the wood and let it sit, unfinished, for another week or more
Sanding:
• Sand the floor and the edges with 36 grid paper
• Apply wood filler throughout
• Sand the floor and the edges with 60 sanding paper
• Sand the floor again with 80 grid sanding paper
• Buff the floor very well
• Wash the floor to open the pores of the wood and ensure a more uniform application of the stain
• Apply the stain
• Let it dry overnight
• Apply the floor finish
• Buff the floor
• Apply the floor finish
Apparently, in your case, few steps were skipped:
• No acclimatization
• No wood filler, or minor filling was done
• Sanding was done with two papers instead of three. While an experienced floor sander could do it with two papers, your guys don’t seem to fall in that category.
• Buffing the floor was done in an improper manner
• Washing the floor probably didn’t take place

Here is a link that might be useful: Steps Skipped During Floor Sanding


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