Stephen Perrera, Owner Of Top Floor Installation Co. and native Tucsonan since 1955 has been in the flooring trade for over thirty-two years. He is licensed, bonded and an insured state of Arizona Flooring Contractor and detailed troubleshooter who performs moisture testing and floor failure analysis, installing a variety of floor coverings. Top
Installation Related Failure Percentages; Myth or Fact?
We've all heard the percentage of flooring failures that are installation related are sky high. Some industry professionals peg it up around 70% to 90 %. When you hear these numbers people automatically presume these installations are all related to poor installation practices by professional installers. I have found that to be misleading.
I recently started doing inspections again on hard surfaces. I have been keeping track of these numbers. Of the last thirty inspections I have performed, only five were absolute manufacturing issues. That seems about right as far as percentages go.
Here is where it gets more complicated. Of those remaining twenty six installation related failures well over TWO-THIRDS of them were installed by either DIY'ers, semi-professional people like licensed and unlicensed handymen, small general contractors, a few water/fire damage restoration companies who had taken it upon themselves to make an extra buck installing the floors themselves, and of course your close friends brother who says he has done them before. All of the above totally failed to follow the installation guidelines in one form or another. Mostly by not following floor flatness requirements, the lack of proper expansion space and the lack of undercutting door casings.
Half of the professionally installed floors had failures resulting from site related issues beyond the control of the installers. Quite a few of these failures had to do with the very wet and humid summer we had and excessive dryness. I do check out what the weather was like during the installation. Many of these floors which had expanded and locked in the floor were installed during drier periods before the summer. Of course we all know what can happen when you install a laminate or wood floor in a dry climate, and then it gets sopping wet for several weeks. Even a few of these floors had not shrunk back even though the relative humidity had gone back to near normal conditions.
Manufacturers suggest installation be around 30% to 50% relative humidity. We all know this is not possible out here in the arid desert when practically no one has a humidifier. And no doubt, no retailer or especially installer is going to force the hand of the consumer to buy a humidifier to climatize the interior ambient rh to the manufacturers required zone. But that's another article.
Of the remaining installation failures which were professionally installed, a small percentage of those were borderline grey areas. The rest were blatant installation errors.
I received one claim where a real estate management company said the floor was professionally installed. The claim was buckling. The management professional was insistent that the tenant was using to much water when she cleaned the floor. I went out and not a single edge was swelled up. Whoever installed it ran the width wise down the twenty foot hallway, sideways across the entire home with no transition strips for a total of 59 feet. They cut around all the door casings by inches to zero gap and caulked them in. For the first time I actually burst out laughing when I walked in and saw that. I had to quickly regain my composure.
Now I'm not saying every area of the country had the exact same ratio of failures as I found. But I find it hard to believe these high percentages are all done by real professionals that go out and install every day out of retail stores and shops. Let's not forget there are also many very poorly designed and manufactured floors out there that figure into these percentages. I'd throw in a hefty twenty percent for that.
So next time you hear about percentages of flooring failures being installation related, even though it may be somewhat true, keep in mind all the variables that go hand in hand.
Edited by Admin 11/6/2012
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