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 Post subject: Gaps in new oak floors & chipping
PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 8:41 am 
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Hi, We purchased a new home in June 2005. This winter the hardwood floors separated and many of the boards have chipped on the corners. The sales rep from the hardwood company (a reputable local firm) came yesterday to look at them. He measured the floors & said the gaps are occurring every 4 ft, which means there's a problem with the subfloors. The widest gap would be solved by taking out a few surrounding boards & replacing them with some larger pieces. He says he won't do any repairs until the builder comes & addresses the problem with the subfloor. He also said they could fix them from underneath. However, we have a garage & finished basement room underneath with smooth ceilings. He also doesn't recommend any repairs until at least July to see what the heat & humidity will do to the floors.

I'm curious why he didn't do a moisture reading. I did ask if the floors will need to be replaced & he said no.

Both the builder & floor co. sales rep are returning this coming Tuesday to look at the floors. I'm afraid it's going to be a case of the builder vs. the floor company.

What is causing these problems with my floor & how should it be fixed?

Here are links to some photos:
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:16 am 
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Can you put up a few pictures that will depict a larger view of the problem? A step ladder may help.

Are you having a problem too with the oak shoe pulling away from the baseboards? Not all those pictures are subfloor issues IMO but the contributors need to know alot more details about the time of install, like HVAC up and running, wood acclimated, moisture testing, exactly what is the subfloor and joist spacing, the RH level in your house currently, ect.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:59 am 
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I forwarded those questions to our flooring company. I'll let you know what he says.

I'll also try to get some larger shots of the floors.

Thanks for your help!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:30 pm 
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It could be subfloor panelization but there isn't a way to tell from the pics because they don't show how far apart the gapping is occuring. That being said, this happens every winter. Folks complain about gaps in their hardwood floors. The fact is, hardwood floors expand and contract, sometimes a lot. Sometimes the contraction will be concentrated into a few areas as opposed to equally throughout the floor. This is a common phenomena. NOFMA has addressed this problem on their web site. Read:
http://www.nofma.org/CertificationGradi ... fault.aspx
https://www.nofma.org/Portals/0/Publica ... 005_04.pdf


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:04 am 
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An update, the builder's site manager & the floor rep came by yesterday.

This is what the floor rep said in regards to my questions:
1. He didn't know the date & time of the installation but promised to look it up.
2. The HVAC was not up & running then - seldom is for new construction.
3. The boards were in the house 2 days before installation.
4. The moisture reading at the time was 11% for the subfloor & 8 1/2 % for the floors.
5. The subfloors are 3 1/4 inch Adventec (sp?) glued & nailed tongue & groove.
6. He doesn't know the RH level in the house & can't measure it.

The sales rep measured our floors yesterday & the moisture reading is 5 1/2%.

Neither of them now think there's a problem with the subfloors. They think that the 1st winter the house went through was too drying with the gas heat & it is normal settling of the house.

They are recommending that we wait until July & see if most of the separations close back up. The largest one will probably be repaired by removing a few of the boards & installing slightly larger ones. They will then fill in all the areas where it's chipping & put another coat of polyurethane.

I called the HVAC people & they can install a whole house humidifier for $450 and said that would help enormously with keeping the humidity at the proper levels during the winter.

What do you flooring experts think? BTW I tried taking a photo of the whole floor, but you can't really see the defects from that distance.

Thanks guys!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:42 am 
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A humidifier on the hvac is the way to go if you want the least amount of seasonal movement you have to control the enviroment the floor is kept in. Too dry and the floor will shrink, too humid the floor will swell. 5.5 % is pretty low for wood flooring, most is manufactured around 6- 9 % but if it sat in a new house with no hvac it probally picked up a little bit while it sat there now you have run the heat all winter cauasing the floor to dry out and shrink thats why you have those cracks, pretty normal with most wood floors.

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Heartland Hardwood Flooring
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www.HeartlandHardwoodFlooring.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 6:12 pm 
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Not many moisture meters will read below 6%. Did he show you the reading, or tell you it was 5½%


The problem is with the new construction and the fast paced, hurry up attitude of builders superintendents. They are clueless, when it comes to acclimation and jobsite conditions, for a lasting hardwood floor installation, that won't have big problems soon after occupation.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 6:43 am 
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No, he didn't show me the meter. He measured the floors in 2 separate places and said both readings were 5 1/2 %


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 6:20 pm 
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Get a hygrometer and measure the humidity inside your home. 5.5% says it is around 25%rH, which is way too low for wood flooring. If infact the interior ambient conditions are that dry, you desperately need a humidifier, to bring the flooring up to 8%, where it was supposedly installed at.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 6:49 am 
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Do you have any recommendations for a hygrometer? Can I buy a decent one at Home Depot or Lowe's?

Thx!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 6:16 am 
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I bought a thermometer at Home Depot that measures both temperature & relative humidity. The temp last night was 78 & RH measured 45%.

This morning the temp is 76 & the RH is 43%.

When will the gaps close?!? It doesn't seem like the humidity is too low to me.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 11:21 am 
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Nope, and that is why the guy who told you 5.5%, is pulling your chain, as suspected.

You might want to get a pin type wood moisture meter and check the MC yourself. 8)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 12:42 pm 
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Is the flooring installed parallel with the floor joist or is it laid perpendicular (crossing). And also do you have 2x dimensional floor joist or floor trusses. What is the on-center spacing?

The rep is right about one thing. A lot of new construction installs do not have the HVAC on at near live-in conditions for 2 weeks prior to bringing in the flooring. That does make it right though and excessive gapping is what you get alot of times. Not placing blame on anyone, just stating a fact.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:34 pm 
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I'll have to ask someone who has a moisture reader to come to the house for another reading. Those meters are pretty pricey. Who's likely to have those? Flooring specialists, termite inspectors?

The floors go both ways. 1/2 of the main floor, the boards run perpendicular to the floor joists. The other 1/2 run parallel with the floor joists.

I don't have any idea what the floor joists look like since the basement underneath has finished ceilings.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:47 pm 
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How about 19.95 for a meter? Go to Harbor Freight, type in the word, "meter" in their search bar. Maybe not a heavy duty long lasting tool, but it will get you where you need to go. My finger reads 22-23 percent on the scale; has since I got it. How's that for a calibrator? My Protimeter reads at 22-23% in the red, and says "Decay Inevitable" Yeah, I know. I can feel it at the end of a long hard day!


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