Is this a botched installation?

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  #1  
Old 02-17-15, 07:15 AM
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Is this a botched installation?

Hello gentlemen,
About 2.5 years ago my elderly mother decided on a whim to have a laminate floor installed. She contacted a major company (at least in our area) that subcontracts out the actual work to random crews. She thought something didn't look right. There were random gaps everywhere. From what she tells me "The gentleman responsible for handling complaints and warranties came out and told her that everything looks good. That what she was seeing is just the normal expansion and contracting that laminate floors do."

Since then I've now had a chance to install two laminate floors myself and from everything I've learned and experienced this is not normal expansion and contracting. It's either poor material that has a problem locking correctly, or a shoddy installation not ensuring all the pieces were locked. These gaps are there year round.

I'd like to step in and talk to the company myself instead of my elderly mother, but I'd like to confirm that my suspicions about what I'm seeing here is correct with you gentleman. Thank you so much for taking the time to read all of this!

Most of the floor looks like this. Here's some pictures from the hallway.


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  #2  
Old 02-17-15, 07:33 AM
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I agree that that is not a "normal" gap between planks. That's a huge gap for even long solid wood planks and even more so for a laminate.
 
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Old 02-17-15, 07:34 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

Normal expansion and contraction? Yes. Bad installation? Yes. The flooring should move as a unit.

Laminate flooring is a floating floor. It needs to acclimate to the room it is being installed in for 48 hrs minimum. It also needs to be installed so that it can move, if it is not, it will separate like the pictures show. It is not right and it sad that the "gentleman" would tell her it is normal. This is a bad install. Your experience tells you that.
 
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Old 02-17-15, 08:04 AM
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To fix it would require removing all of it and start over, installing it right this time.
 
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Old 02-17-15, 08:07 AM
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There are 2 types of click lock flooring. One in which the end T&G is basically a set of "L's" that lay down on top of each other to seal the end. Notches in the "L's" engage to prevent them from pulling loose. Further, the overlap of the next board and friction hold the whole floor together. The other type of flooring has an actual T&G end where you have to engage the tongue into the groove instead of a simple laydown of the board. These are a little more complicated to install, and require you to set two competing angles at the same time. You lift the adjacment board, engage the ends, angle for the long sides and wiggle the whole thing down. Sometimes have to use a tapping block to help things seat properly. That said,

Whomever installed your flooring, did not know what they were doing. Not only are the ends separating, but they also situated the seam too close to each other. Minimum 6 to 8 inches between end seams to create a solid floor. I also assume that they did not remove the baseboard molding prior to installation. This is the expansion gap area - I see that they used 1/4 round instead of shoe molding. My first sign of a sloppy install as it should look sleek and polished, not a big chunky 1/4 round piece of molding.

Anyone calling this a normal install needs to be called out on it. Hold firm, laminate should not do this when properly installed.
 
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Old 02-17-15, 08:10 AM
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Sorry, the forum absolutely would not let me log in again using my facebook account as it originally did. Anyway.

Thank you for the responses guys. Yes, everything I know about flooring now told me this was all wrong. The problem that put me over edge was that she now wants an adjoining room done and the only place I can find the material is the original installer and they won't sell her any unless they do the work. I'm obviously not going to let that happen... Thank you for the time gentlemen. Going to see if there's anything I can do about this.
 
  #7  
Old 02-17-15, 08:20 AM
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the only place I can find the material is the original installer
Any flooring can be supplied by any supplier - I guaranty that these people do not have a exclusive right to the floor you are looking for. May times some of the big boys will carry something and put their own original name on it. Such that when you check other places you can not find it. You need to find someone who is adept at finding out the cross referenced names so you can get the same thing from a different supplier.

Where in Indiana are you, or what is the nearest big city. I'll private message you some options if you can zero me in.
 
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Old 02-17-15, 08:31 AM
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Wow, I appreciate that. That's extremely generous of you. We are from the Indianapolis area so have access to just about everything. She even has a couple boxes of the stuff left over that I took a picture of. I'd need about 7 more boxes to do her adjoining room and even more if I was to at least tear up the hallway and re-do it as it's the worst.

Still going to try to take Xxxxxx flooring to task if possible, but doubt I'll get far without taking them to small claims... It's past their 1 year labor warranty, but only went past since their warranty guy told her it was normal lol.

Here's the label from the product. Goggle didn't turn up much for me before coming here and posting.

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  #9  
Old 02-17-15, 08:58 AM
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I can find the material is the original installer and they won't sell her any unless they do the work.
I believe the proper response to that would be "You messed up the first install and won't fix it, why would I let you mess up another"?
 
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Old 02-17-15, 09:35 AM
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If you have to buy 7 more boxes, I would recommend that you start anew. Keep the extra that you have to repair the hallway. You will be hard pressed to find a good match for a product that is over 4 years old. The color will be close, but not perfect. You always, always want to purchase extra and park it away so you can repair when there is an issue. Save that last box for replacement of chipped boards when you unzip the hall to correct the gaps.

I did a search on the UPC listed on the box and came up with a blank. It gave me other choices of flooring but not an exact match. Therefore, I doubt even that flooring retailer has the exact same product. If the UPC has changed, so has the product.
 
  #11  
Old 02-17-15, 09:44 AM
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Exactly what I've been coming up with Czizzi. Well I appreciate you confirming everything for me and the advice on going forward. That clears up a lot!
 
  #12  
Old 02-22-15, 01:51 PM
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I did laminate (over Dri-core subfloor) in the basement of my previous house. I did the install myself and for the most part I was very happy with the outcome. However, I did have a couple of boards that tended to separate at the butt ends (not to the the extent or number you have) but the same sort of thing was going on (this was in a hallway as well).

If you are unable to get your contractor to replace or repair and before you rip it all up I would like to suggest a "quick fix" that worked for me.

Don't laugh, but because this is a floating floor you can kick these boards back into place. In my case I very carefully added glue to the gap, taking precautions not to use too much and using painters tape on the board faces to catch any excess glue that oozes out when the boards come together. Work in one direction towards the end wall repeating the process as you go (because once you close a gap another in the same board run will open up at the other end of the board you are working on. As I said keep repeating the process until you get to the end wall, where in my case the thickness of the baseboard was still enough to hide the end gap.

Again don't laugh but soft soled running shoes provided enough grip to kick or move the boards into place (without damaging the face). My laminate was not the type that is glued together but using glue on the butt ends of the boards that tended to separate was successful in making a permanent repair. I suspect there were imperfections in some of the boards which caused them to not permanently click or stick together (for a floating floor everything should move as one complete unit).

Hope this helps.
 
  #13  
Old 02-22-15, 02:04 PM
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SudCaper has the solution I would try first.

A few notes on laminate flooring installation. Regardless of what the manufacturer says, installing this below grade will almost always result in an issue down the road. Depending on the humidity conditions when it was installed, it will either separate like this, or buckle somewhere. Also, remember there are limits to how far a continuous run is. Manufacturers also want an expansion gap at every doorway. Most homeowners don't want that expansion gap, and this is often the result.
 
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