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 Post subject: New Installation, credit card width end gapping normal?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2023 8:51 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2023 6:13 am
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I am kind of nervous. I am having 1500 square feet of 7” wide ¾” engineered white oak flooring, clear grade, rift and quarter sawn only, with a 6mm wear layer installed. All lengths from the mill were 5’ to 10’. The flooring itself was $28K, so it was not cheap.

After the first day of installation, they installed roughly 300 square feet with 4 guys. But I could not really see the work as when they installed that flooring, they moved the stacked flooring that was on the other side of the room on top of what they just installed. So you could not see the work of what they just installed. The second day they installed roughly 800 square feet with 4 guys. They are gluing it down using SikaBond T17, no nails.

So at the end of the second day of the install, I can now see areas of the floor that are not covered with the stacked flooring. I noticed what I would call a bunch of gaps between the ends of the boards that a credit card can fit between. So far, I counted that what I can see is 122 butt joints. Of that, 20 of them (15%) I can put a credit card between. Now to be fair, some are tight, but the card still fits and some it just falls through. When I brought this up to the owner (who was not on-site during the install), he said it is normal to have some gaps (but is 15% of them at a credit card width excessive?), and they do a full trowel of the floor to fill them in. To make matters worse, the gaps that are popping out to my eye and seem to be the worst are in main walkways like to the sink, as you enter my office, etc. I told the owner that they were ¾ of the way done on the job as it is roughly a 1,500 sq ft job and he said it is a little late to bring it up now. They had scheduled 5 full days, and said it may take 6, so it seems like they went really fast to me. He also mentioned that the guys were complaining about the milling of the boards and they were having a hard time getting them tight. The flooring was custom milled from Hurst Hardwoods. My feeling is that if they felt that board was bad and they could not get a tight joint, it should not have been installed. They could have put it to the side and see where we end up and go back to Hurst Hardwood if needed. I do not feel that should be my job to tell them that, they are the professionals, and it is a multi-million dollar house and I am paying for a nice installation. The owner agreed to pause the install and come out and look today. He is a really nice guy and seems really honest. But I am nervous as this flooring is very expensive as I don’t want anything to come out of his pocket, but mine either.

As a side note, the flooring was acclimated for roughly 30 days as we had other stuff being done in the house.

I don’t know how long it takes the glue to cure, so I don’t know if 24 hours later you can still remove the board without destroying the board and/or plywood underlayment. Someone mentioned to me they can cut out those boards and glue new ones down, but they will have to cut the tongue off and that does not see like a great solution on a brad new floor that I just spent so much money on. The installer is a hardwood flooring specialist with 30 years experience. So not a big box store or anything like that. At the same time, he was not on the job as it was a crew that some of the guys spoke so-so English. They seemed really nice and hardworking, but my point is I don’t think they have the experience the owner has. I don’t know what I should accept as a “fix”. My old 2.25” floor did not have any of these end gaps. So I don’t see why my new floor should. My old floor seemed to have some filler on the side edges where they did repairs from termite damage, and that cracked, stained different, and looked like kitty litter after time and like poop in general which is why we went all new. Thus I am not real comfortable with troweling with filler. Maybe you guys will say it is fine, as this is all new to me and has me stressing out.

The pictures below are a just a few samples. All of these you can fit a credit card in between them. As I know it is hard to tell the gaps on something so close up. As you can see in the one room where there are 3 markers on the floor, they are in the main entryway. You can fit a credit card between them all. The gaps that are not marked are smaller than a credit card, but still noticeable to me as I did not have them in my old flooring. The one that the board is not cut straight, to me they should have pulled that plank. We have extras, but maybe that is just me being too anal. I have included pictures of the rooms so you can see how many are in each area, remembering that there are very few joints since the planks are all 5 to 10 foot long. So to me, it just looks like poop. Not what I was expecting when the total is coming out to $50K for the install between rip out of the old flooring, material, install and finishing. Hopefully, you tell me I am stressing about nothing.

These are not the best pictures I only took a few as I was stressing out, but they are what I got last night as we are not living there. Hopefully I do the picture links properly.

Thanks for any feedback!

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 Post subject: Re: New Installation, credit card width end gapping normal?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2023 2:35 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2015 12:02 am
Posts: 1748
I see what you are concerned with. It may be hard to get the butt-joints tight without a mess with the glue, but there is a way to make them snug without damaging the other end, by carefully tapping with a serious mallet. Personally I never trowel fill because the wood patch sometimes shrinks and needs another topping off. I think that if the butt-joints are filled with wood patch instead of trowel fill they will not be noticeable from a standing position. The edge milling looks very good.

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 Post subject: Re: New Installation, credit card width end gapping normal?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2023 5:30 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2004 10:08 pm
Posts: 1732
Location: Bonita Springs, Florida
Long length direct gludowns can be a struggle. Wedges or strap clamps can eliminate side joint gaps. As far as the end joints, they can open up with foot traffic before the adhesive cures. It's something that has to be monitored all day.

they moved the stacked flooring that was on the other side of the room on top of what they just installed

That could be the reason. What's the new area look like?

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 Post subject: Re: New Installation, credit card width end gapping normal?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2023 7:12 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 02, 2009 3:45 pm
Posts: 3357
Location: Tucson AZ
End joints could be milled to big. I've had some I had to pound in with a block. Which then makes the end look pronounced.
Usually end joints go together the easiest in my experience. And that, like Ken said can make them slip easier.
Then there's the glue memory if they slid them in when the glue is skinning over it can pull them back.
I'd do a matching caulk that don't shrink and call it a day.

Stephen Perrera
Top Floor Installation Co.
Tucson, Arizona
IFCII Certified Inspector
Floor Repairs and Installation in Tucson, Az

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