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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    2

    Exclamation Hardwood Floor Gap Forensic Analysis

    The house:
    2.5 year old townhouse near Washington DC
    Living/Kitchen/Dining room approximately 18' X 36'
    Hardwood flooring running in the 18' direction/perpendicular to the length of the room.

    The issue:
    Every year in the Fall, the hardwood floor opens a gap nearly 1/4 inch across the room in the exact same spot.

    Builder response:
    This is "normal" seasonal change. The hardwood contractor states that this is common in homes.
    They did finally agree to bring in a 3rd party inspector. I would like to have good, well thought out questions ready for them.

    About me:
    I am an engineer and their answer doesn't sit well with me.
    I believe this is a subfloor issue.
    I have had numerous homes with hardwood and I have never see an issue like this without other contributing factors (subloor problem, division between home addition, etc...)


    Am I missing something? Could this be just a coincidence that it happens in this one spot and the builder is correct??

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,736

    Default Re: Hardwood Floor Gap Forensic Analysis

    Pursue this issue until corrected. 1/4" gap is not acceptable.

    Please report back.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,836

    Default Re: Hardwood Floor Gap Forensic Analysis

    No gaps in my hardwood floors. Suspect that the flooring was not acclimatized before it was installed.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    1,004

    Default Re: Hardwood Floor Gap Forensic Analysis

    this makes sense to me. i would assume that the flooring was installed improperly. my best guess is that the flooring contractor installed the flooring from one wall towards the middle and from the other wall towards the middle. this would cause the area where the gap is to not be properly fastened. therefore during the dry times of the year all the shrinkage would occur, or appear to occur, in one place. an easy way to assess this would be to see how deep the gap is in the flooring. if the gap appears to go down about 1/4" to 3/8" you would be seeing the tongue of the flooring. if the gap appears to go down about 3/4" that would mean that they put down the floor from the outside walls towards the middle which is dramatically wrong. can you post a picture of the gap? one that shows the whole gap and one that's a close up of it?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    1,203

    Default Re: Hardwood Floor Gap Forensic Analysis

    my guess is this: there is a clean break in the subfloor there, and none of the plywood runs across this line, which is why the halves of the room can move independently concentrating a lot of movement at one plank seam. This may be out of necessity; the floor joists could also change direction at that point, or it represents the line of an addition or the removal of a wall. In any of those cases, additional underlayment, 3/8" plywood at minimum, should have been put over the broken subfloor, unless the plywood could have been taken up and new subfloor put down with staggered joints all the way across the space.
    The problem is that only the occupant will see this as a problem, because it does not represent a safety issue, just an aesthetic one.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    1,004

    Default Re: Hardwood Floor Gap Forensic Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by Sombreuil_mongrel View Post
    my guess is this: there is a clean break in the subfloor there, and none of the plywood runs across this line, which is why the halves of the room can move independently concentrating a lot of movement at one plank seam. This may be out of necessity; the floor joists could also change direction at that point, or it represents the line of an addition or the removal of a wall. In any of those cases, additional underlayment, 3/8" plywood at minimum, should have been put over the broken subfloor, unless the plywood could have been taken up and new subfloor put down with staggered joints all the way across the space.
    The problem is that only the occupant will see this as a problem, because it does not represent a safety issue, just an aesthetic one.
    Casey
    that's definitely another possibility

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