Laminate Floor Gaps & Tenting

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  #1  
Old 01-10-03, 09:46 AM
soup
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Laminate Floor Gaps & Tenting

We purchased and had installed in April Laminate flooring from a local store. A few months after installation we noticed large gaps and tenting in the floor. Part of the floor is not tenting. This is a 3 1/2 x 7 (approx) area in front of the sink area. The tile area in the front entry way is also in good shape. The problem area seems to be directly in line with the refrigerator and then proceeds down the hallway where we also had laminate installed. There are also gaps of more than 1/4" around doorways going to the garage which is directly next to the fridge and around others down the hall.
He concluded that the gaps in front of the fridge were caused by a 1/2" highspot in front of the fridge. he could not determine what was causing the floor to peak/tent. He also checked the humidity levels in the basement. We have an unfinished basement with a sliding glass door and 3 windows. the basement door is continuously open because my children play there and I do laundry there. He noted taht our insulation was installed with the wrong side out.
the home store has sdecided that they will repair the spot in front of the fridge where the high spot is and will re-cut a planlk around one doorway in the hall. They are blaming the tenting/peaking on the fact that the insulation was put in upside down. Supposedly prior to installing the laminate flooring they didi a thorough inspection of the floor to make sure taht it was level in order to make any repairs prior to installing the new floor. They said our floor was in great shape and were able to install directly over the old floor. ANo repairs needed. If the upside down installation were the problem wouldn't the original floo have been warped from the very beginning? They themselves told us the floor was nearly new condidtion even after 20 years. I read on this site about someone wanting to install the floor under kitchen cabinets but were advised not to because the weight of a fully loaded cabinet would not allow the floor to float therefor causing wide gaps and tenting. Sounds an awful lot like my scenario but with a refrigerator perhaps causing this.

Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-10-03, 04:46 PM
AzFred
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There are an awful lot of loose ends here, things that may or may not be issues. How upsetting is this to you? Have you considered having a full home inspection at least in that part of the house that is the focus area? A certified home inspector will charge a hundred or two for his services but then would you consider the remediation that he suggests and the accompanying expense? The first thing that I would do is check for leaks and condensation at the reefer floor. The change of seasons may be a factor as a heated house drys out and planks shrink when they dry. The insulation may contribute as well. The reefer weight is the least of my concerns. Climate, workmanship by the original builder, Flatness of the floor, underlayment.... on and on and on. You clearly need the advice of a knowledgeable general contractor or inspector who has seen the conditions of which you speak.
 
  #3  
Old 01-10-03, 06:36 PM
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I want to know, how long the unopened cartons sat in the rooms to be installed in, before they were opened.

Was there a moisture barrier installed and seams taped to seal it. Not just the underlayment cushion, unless it was a 2-in-1 underlayment/moisture barrier combined.
 
  #4  
Old 01-10-03, 07:02 PM
soup
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Laminate floor gaps 7 tenting

I was asked how upsetting this situation is to us. well, although not the end of the world, we did spend approx. $2500 for materials and labor. This floor was a moajor part of the complete overhaul on a home that was very outdated but in fantastic and nearly new condition. Because of this floor issue we have been unable to continuewith our other renovations. So I would have to say that this situation is quite upsetting to us. Especially since it has been dragged out for far to long. the fact that the Home Center and the manufacturer can not come up with any concrete answers and constantly shift the problems to another individual is frustrating to say the least.

The floor product arrived at our home at least one week before installation and sat in the verty room that it was installed in in order to become acclimated - as we were instructed to do.

Yes, there are many issues here that are open ended. Even the independent inspector could not determine why the floor was peaking. The facts that I am sure about however are that we, the customer, bought a product from a home center and chose to have them also install it because they promised to stand behind their product and their installation. Neither of which they are doing. Still looking for answers. Help??!!
 
  #5  
Old 01-10-03, 07:12 PM
soup
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laminate looring response back to Perry Wright

Thanks for responding. I missed putting this info in above. i am not positive on what is underneath the planks and/or the actual procedures taken as we did not install ourselves. The home center installed all and we made ourselves scarce for the days that it took as per the request of the installer because of our young children. There are remants left however and what I can tell you from them are that under it seems like there was a very thin (less than 1/8th of an inch foam (light green) that seems to have been almost shrink wrapped in heavy plastic on both sides of it. I do not know if the installer tapped the seams. The product we have is Quick-step flooring and the installer used all materials reccommended by manufacturer (or so we have been told).
 
  #6  
Old 01-10-03, 09:31 PM
AzFred
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Sounds like the installer did use an underlayment provided by the flooing manufacturer. My greatest concern is the condition of the job site or building and a general inspection would determine that. Your statements don't rule out the installation procedure but it seems that good practice was followed. What is the climate in which you live? What major population center is nearby?
 
  #7  
Old 01-11-03, 05:18 AM
soup
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laminate

We purchased our home just 3-4 weeks prior to having the laminate flooring installed. Prior to purchase we followed the typical procedures including having a home appraisal inspector and a home inspection done. Both men commented on what great condition the home was in as well as didi the floor installer when he inspected the floor prior to installation. The home was built in 1979-1980 and although the decor was outdated the home was in still new condition. This is because the home was hardly, if at all , ever lived in . Occassional weekends only.
We live in the northeast, on Cape Cod where the climate obviously changes with the seasons. The floor If I am not mistaken the floor is supposed to be ableunder the baseboards. It is almost as if the floor shifted as it was supposed to but never shifted back and therefore road up on itself.
Once again, I find it ironic that the problems begin directly in line with the refrigerator. The entire area to one side of it where the cabinets begin is beautiful. The laminate does not go under the cabinets.
 
  #8  
Old 01-11-03, 05:59 AM
AzFred
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You have said that the flooring was properly acclimated. Was the house heated and/or air conditioned during the acclimation process? How long had you lived in the house at the time of installation of the floor? Was there the prescribed expansion allowed around the perimeter and against obsticles such as kitchen islands? Is there polyethylene sheeting under the lamiante flooring? Can you tell us what the moisture content of the sub floor registers or registered at the time of installation? I've looked for a statement about a long hall and cannot find one is there a long hall that has laminate flooring?

"A few months after installation we noticed large gaps and tenting in the floor." This is an oximoron. Usually, gaps open up from shrinkage and peaking or what you call tenting is the result of expansion. No intent to be critical, just trying to nail down a cause from 2000 miles away. Being raised in New England many years ago, I know the climate on the Cape and that may be a contributor. Climate issues can be mitigated.
 
  #9  
Old 01-11-03, 11:15 AM
soup
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Laminate flooring problems

During the time that the flooring was in our home we did not have any heat or AC running. It was mid April and the weather was beautiful. We lived in the home approximately 3-4 weeks prior to the floor being installed.
As far as the prescribed expansion left around perimeter, I do not know for sure if the amount of space left because we ourselves did not install the floor. There is an area in a hall closet where we did not have molding put around the edges and judging by that there seems to be a small space approx 1/4".
Regarding the polyethelene sheting - What I believe is under the floor is the light green very thin foam type material that is shrink wrapped on both sides in heavy plastic. I do not know if this is what you speak of.
I do not know the moisture content of the sub-is something that the home center installer checked prior to installation. If moisture is such an issue with these types of floors than this should have been discussed with us and tests should have been done prior to installation. We put our trust in the home center that they would make sure the enviroment was suitable for this floor. When the independent inspector came in to our home he did check humidity levels. The report I have states that a field tests was done and the laminate flooring surface was at 11% and the sub flooring was also 11% (this was accessible from the unfinished basement.
Yes there is a hallway just off the kitchen (connected) where the problem continues. The doorways have large spaces approx 1/4" maybe more around door jams. In this area the planks are also peaking.
Although an oximoron our floors are in fact gapping in some areas and they are also peaking in areas all over. Again, it seems as though the problems begin directly in line with the refrigerator then continues throughout the rest of the kitchen and down the hallway. I am trying to include some pictures. very difficult to picture but they might be of some help. Unfortunately because of the size of the photos this page is only allowing me to attach one picture.
 
  #10  
Old 01-11-03, 12:39 PM
AzFred
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I really doubt that the refrigerator is the cause of all of the problems. You may go to my web site and send me an E-mail with pictures attached if you wish. Click on the button below with the www on it.
 
  #11  
Old 01-11-03, 03:10 PM
soup
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Thanks for the offer to send the pictures. I plan to shortly. I did log on to your site. Very informative. I read about the moisture tests you advise to do prior to floor installation. Is this something you advise doing on any floor surface on any level of the house? You inquired as to what the moisture content of the sub floor was prior to installation in one of your responses to me. Is this something that the installer should know?
 
  #12  
Old 01-11-03, 06:22 PM
AzFred
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Yes. Yes.
 
  #13  
Old 01-11-03, 07:34 PM
soup
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I was reviewing the brochure that came in one of the boxes of planks. It includes warranty info and step by step instructions for installing the product. It does not include a step prior to installation to check moisture levels.
It does include info regarding the base floor. They instruct the installer of the floor to remove existing floor covering. Another states that the moisture content of base floor must not exceed 10%. Our laminate planks were installed directly on top of our linoleum. No moisture test was ever done on my kitchen floor or basement ceiling prio to ordering the product or before installation. The floor was measured by the store, the product ordered by the store, and then finally installed by them as well. All without any moisture tests of any kind. It was done by the independent inspector after installation. The insulation that is upside down in our basement ceiling has been there for quite some time. If the insulation is, or was , causing a reversed vapor barrier, wouldn't this supposed high moisture build-up under the floor have caused the sub flooring to warp over a period of time prior to the laminate being installed? and, I would imagine that this moisture buil up would have been detected by this moisture test.
The home center sent us a letter today which states that "the problem is not covered by the manufactures warranty nor do we (they) feel that it was related to the workmanship of the flooring installation". They consider this issue to be a condition of the home itself so to pursue our grievance elsewhere.
 
  #14  
Old 01-11-03, 09:33 PM
AzFred
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You state that an inspector found the floor and sub floor to have a moisture content of 11%. The manufacturer states that the floor should not exceed 10%. The floor appearantly should not have been installed until the moisture problem was cured. There is more to this possibly but there you have reason for a claim. The open door in the unfinished basement is also a potential problem.
 
  #15  
Old 01-13-03, 05:02 AM
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Fred, what about where she says...

During the time that the flooring was in our home we did
not have any heat or AC running. It was mid April and the
weather was beautiful. We lived in the home
approximately 3-4 weeks prior to the floor being installed.





The floor was not being climatized to living conditions of the home.

Way before the laminate arrived for acclimation/installation, the home needed to be closed tight and the climate control set for living conditions, at least 2 weeks prior to the flooring arriving. Then after the floor is installed, those same conditions should remain the same or problems that you describe can and will happen. Having the door open in the room below shouldn't have an effect on the installation if a moisture barrier had been used along with the underlayment, unless the door is continually open and it effects the climate of the upstairs as well.

I can see in my mind what is happening. They sold you the floor, they are the knowledgeable professionals. They should have educated you about your new flooring and explained that certain conditions needed to remain constant for a lasting installation.
 
  #16  
Old 01-13-03, 05:57 AM
AzFred
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Perry, The climate there at that time of year is such that now HVAC is really needed usually. The acclimation was to normal living conditions. That said, normal is fairly high humidity. I'm not sure that there is poly under the floor. There is a green underlay and some of that has and some does not have poly included. The open door issue needs to be addressed. The 11% M.C. is a concern as is the changes in the floor brought about at the change of a season. M. C. and rH are different, as you know, and both could be high on Cape Cod. When I see a problem like this occur at the first major season change, I have learned to look at the installation and related conditions and materials that surround that install. Winter installs tend to expand at the first heat wave of summer and summer installs thend to shrink at the first freeze but a good install and an educated home owner tends to mitgate the seasonal changes. In this case I suspect that a hot air furnace, which is common in the area, has been turned on and that there is a dry down going on for one thing. At the same time the open basement door is applying a different condition to the opposite side of the planks. Is the upside down insulation creating a condensate build up at or above the sub floor? I don't know, haven't got there yet. I think we're both going in the same direction. I'll let you know, I now have some images to study.
 
  #17  
Old 01-13-03, 11:14 AM
soup
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I continue to do my research regarding the problems we are facing in regards to our floor. I have placed a call to the manufacturer this am and asked some questions regarding installation. Quite a few major issues were brought up through my asking questions. Just the green polyethelene underlayment was sufficientin areas where the linoleum flooring remained in place. This linoleum acted as a moisture barrier as would, I am told, the plastic sheeting. However, it is crucial that this underlayment go from the floor and then it must run up the walls 1/2"-1". It is then folded and the skirting/molding is then fixed back into place. I was told that it was very important that this underlayment run up the was like this in order to protect from moisture. I asked what would happen if this were not done and I was told without a doubt the floor would definately peak.
I have taken some photos in order to document that in our home this underlayemnt running up the walls was not done anywhere. In fact, in some areas I have found that this membrane was cut short around the edges exposing some of the bare subflooring.
I was also advised that a sealant be applied to the core area of the boards to also protect from moisture. I was told this is like a caulking substance. I am not positive but looking at the edges of planks that I accessed by removing my bottom molding, I do not see anything that looks like it might have been applied to any edges. My bet would be that this was never applied. Easy enough to investigate I am sure. In areas where no skirting/molding (or profiles) will be placed, the expansion gaps must be filled with elastic paste. This I suppose is what should have been done in our hall closet where the laminate floor is installed but there was no molding/skirting to put back into place. No glue, no molding, no underlayment running up the wall.
And back to the expansion gaps, as written in the installation guide which I have, it instructs that an expansion gap must be provided at all walls, next to cabinets, etc. and that this gap must be 8-10mm(1/3"-3/8"). Once again, i took photos to document that almost everywhere the gap is not between these amounts and in some areas there is almost no gap at all.
I also mentioned the fact that the hall which connects to the kitchen area would hae laminate. I mentioned that the hall did not have linoleum as did the kitchen but had carpeting which was removed. The person I spoke with immediately back-tracked and told me that in this case we would have a problem if the linoleum was left in place in the kitchen and the laminate placed over it. Because the hall has just bare sub-flooring we would either have to remove the linoleum or put a transition point where the hall began if we chose to leave the linoleum. Even the small difference between the floor with the linoleum versus the hall without it would be a problem if not addressed. And it wasn't. Since this would look awkward I suppose that if we had ever been confronted with this we definately would have chose to have the linoleum removed because I think a transition point in in that particular location would have looked awkward. So then we would go back to the issue of whether or not there was a plastic membrane. along with the polyethelene. there is not any plastic in the hallway under the poly. It is instructed that on a bare sub-floor (for instance, on without linoleum) there should be both the plastic and the poly. But, since the linoleum should not be in place anyway because of the hallway issue... I don't know. I at this point feel as though I could go on forever. This whole issue has dragged on for far to long. (4 months now) I have put so much time into trying to resolve this and will spend whatever more time it takes. Although at this point I feel as though we could resolve this issue without doing so, I am tempted at this point to take the home center to court. So much of my time has been spent trying to resolve this issue that I feel as though somehow we should be compensated. If from the beginning the instructions for installation had been "followed to the letter" as the manual included with the product states, then all of this would have been avoided.
Well, I suppose it is time to call the store and arrange a meeting with the head cheese.
 
  #18  
Old 01-13-03, 11:28 AM
soup
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Oh, and we don't have a furnace, we have electric baseboard heat(lucky us) And we were not educated on this floring product at all. In fact, the installer who answered our original call regarding the issue handed us off to another guy who also visited our home. He, who was the installation manager, told us that he did not know much about how th floor was supposed to perform. He just handled dealing with lining up installations and was kind of new. So after blowing us off and not returning calls I called the general managers office and hoped to get a call from him. No call but he sent a product manager who offered to send out the regional product guy for the area beccause he thought that this guy would know more than he did. If they themselves are not knowledgable then how could they ever educate the consumer. I sure do wish we did this ourselves! And the saga coninues.....
 
  #19  
Old 01-13-03, 06:19 PM
AzFred
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As more is known, it seems that the installation is less than it should be resulting from "shotcuts" that when accumulated can be a real problem for all involved.

The added moisture proofing treatment is visible to the trained eye but may not be to others. One way to observe the edge treatment of the core is to cut across a plank. The newly cut core will be lighter in color than the profie cut of the original. The darker color is from a waxie based coating. The core or substrate manufacturered by Unilin and sold using the Quick Step brand is very stable and one of the more moisture resistant products. The adhesive used in the board manufacture is a melamine or plastic and that amount of the composition is not effected by moisture. Tests have shown that the Unilin board shows measurably less swelling in moisture testing than other board. Unilin is primarily a board manufacturer and several of the better brands or laminate flooring companies buy board from Unilin in Europe.
 
  #20  
Old 01-13-03, 06:52 PM
soup
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Wink

The floor which we had installed is in fact QuickStep or Uniclic as it is also known. I sent some more pictures your way regarding the issues I discussed above. You will find them at your website address. Thanks
 
  #21  
Old 01-15-03, 07:27 PM
soup
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I read the post regarding mildew under laminate. If moisture build-up was the only problem with my flooring as the home center is implying (but is certainly not the case), I would imagine then that I too would have mildew nuder my floor. Am I correct? I have had the floors in for 9 months since April. Is this sufficient time for mold to grow if moisture build-up were an issue?

I am not 100% positive but I am quite sure we definately do not have any mildew build-up. If I could determine for sure that there wasn't any I would imagine that this would be another blow towards the home centers theory that the insulation is the root of all our floors evil.
 
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