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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    2

    Question Uneven Seams in Hardwood Flooring

    Hello everyone. I purchased a new house and, after closing with the builder, had about 1200 sq ft of random width (3", 4" & 5"), reclaimed character grade hickory installed by a professional installer last Dec/Jan. Within the first month, I noticed I was feeling sharp edges through my socks when I was walking around my house. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that many of the long seams between the boards, while sanded such that they were smooth when running your hand (or sock) over them, would depress on one side when any force was applied. The amount of deflection ranges from minimal to a 1/16" or more. It occurs on nearly every 3rd or 4th board or so throughout all the floors. My guess is that the issue is due to poor quality control on the milling of the T&G. I do have some scraps and can see that some do have a fair amount of play in them when put together but I have no real knowledge of what is typical.

    When I brought it to the attention of the wood company, they came out and looked at it and then wanted to wait and see what the floor did in the summer months. Well, as expected, the humidity swelled everything nice and tight. To the point that those same flat sanded seams now had one board standing proud of the other board causing a permanent, visible sharp edge. Of course, now that it's dry again, it's reverted to it's original condition.

    The wood company owner and his installer are coming out soon to look at things one more time but, in my phone conversations, he's pretty much said that his partner (who came out originally to look at things) felt that it was well within tolerances.

    I've lived in many houses and old apartment buildings with sand in place hardwood floors and have never before noticed anything like this. Is this truly normal? I really don't like the thought of tearing this stuff out (that's why we wanted reclaimed in the first place) but I also don't like walking around feeling sharp edges on my feet. Are there other options/solutions?

    Thank you for your time & thoughts.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,095

    Default Re: Uneven Seams in Hardwood Flooring

    Ever seen a hardwood floor being installed? The tongue and grooves are so tight that you have to seat them with a rubber ended flooring hammer. Without that tight of a fit you've got problems. Unless you specified how tight this needed to be, the miller may not be liable but I believe they should have done better if they knew this was going to be flooring. Also, was the flooring properly acclimatized prior to installation? With something as wide as 5" I'd want it lolling around in the conditioned house a week or more before it was laid.

    The only fix I can see is to pull it and re-mill it for a tighter jointing or shim every T&G joint so that it lays tight. If any costs can be recovered they will have to be sought from whoever arranged for the milling for not adequately specifying how it was to be milled.

    Phil

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    820

    Default Re: Uneven Seams in Hardwood Flooring

    how thick is the flooring that you had installed? from the sound of it, it's not 3/4". is it 1/2" or 5/8"? if it's anything less than 3/4" you definitely run the risk of having issues like you described.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Uneven Seams in Hardwood Flooring

    @MasterCarpentry - I've seen flooring being installed only once or twice on job sites about 25 years ago but wasn't paying much attention at the time. Thanks for the info on how snug the fit should be. I'm hoping that the installation company will be able to recoup money from the miller but I'm doubtful since they waited so long to resolve this. As for the acclimatization, it was easily enough time. In fact, the production builder (KHov) did such a piss poor job that they had to tear off & replace ALL the Hardie Plank siding on my house (but that's another story). This delayed closing by several weeks but they did let me move the material into the house prior to that so it was in there for several days before installation began.

    @MLBConstruction - It's definitely 3/4"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,095

    Default Re: Uneven Seams in Hardwood Flooring

    You don't seem to be in the best of situations for getting whoever was responsible for the problem to fix it gratis as I feel they should. Perhaps someone here knows of some other workable solution to the loose T&G joints- some kind of well-adhering moisture resistant filler perhaps? I can think of none I'd use for this but I don't know everything. There are special screws which will pull the offending edges down but with this extensive area that's not really a solution either, and screwing from underneath would restrict the needed natural movement too much for my liking too, so it appears to me that relaying is still going to be the best option which will leave you with the appearance you want.

    Give the other guys here a few days to chime in and let's see if maybe we can both learn if there's some other way to approach this.

    Phil

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    975

    Default Re: Uneven Seams in Hardwood Flooring

    My take on it is the trigger here rests in the grade of lumber. Character grade is usually rife with what have previously been known as "defects" but presto-change-o, it's now "character". You mill wood with an abundance of character, and that's what you will get, ill-fitting joints. If this had happened in a clear/select grade, there would be some 'splainin' to do; I'm pretty confident it's a nearly-inherent problem attending to purposely using lumber that used to be culled and burned to keep the plant warm.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Boston area
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Uneven Seams in Hardwood Flooring

    Did you have a plank subfloor, and did they run the boards in the same direction?

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