There can be problems with any product from the manufacturing to the time of product’s use. Our goal here is to help you properly identify any issues with a laminate floor so you can either prevent them or fix them.
What to do When your Floor Arrives
It is likeliest that your flooring will be delivered via a semi or similar truck. This is not a standard thing for most people, so we want to give you the best preparation possible for what will happen when the truck arrives, and what you should do before it leaves. This first video is a short interview with a driver about how delivery works.
This second video is shorter, and more important. It explains clearly just what you need to do in the way of inspection before the driver leaves with your signature on the receipt. This is supremely important, so please watch this before your floor arrives.
Problems are rare, but who knows if your driver, or the one before her, had to suddenly swerve to avoid some silly person in a car, and something in the truck shifted? None of us will know that, but the delivery company is responsible for getting your stuff to you in good shape regardless.
The thing is, if you sign their receipt and send them on without checking over your delivery first, and especially without properly noting the receipt, then you’re basically saying that everything was perfect, and they are then no longer responsible for replacing anything that was damaged on the truck. Watch the second video!
When you open your boxes or cartons and see your flooring directly for the first time, what happens if you see something that concerns you?
First, These are not Flaws
Is this floor board “warped”? No, it isn’t, not this one. It just settled in its box a bit, and it will straighten right out when you snap your floor together. This quick video, under 2 minutes, shows what we mean. (By the way, we’re really pushing down on it in this image – they don’t actually come with this much curve.)
We’ve put explanations and videos on the site explaining laminate seconds, but you might have missed them, or forgotten that these were what you bought, or maybe you’re helping a friend put down a floor and you find something alarming. This is the video, showing details and examples of seconds planks, and showing how to install these to get the beautiful floor you planned on.
Color Deviations between runs – It’s best to buy your entire floor at once. Most do, of course, but sometimes people buy the very lowest possible amount, intending to grab another carton later if they need it. That certainly may work (though shipping on just 1 or 2 cartons is insane) but occasionally when a manufacturer returns to a particular color, there may be a slight variation in the shade or tone of the color. It would be indiscernible … unless installed into a big room full of the original shade. Still, this should only even be possible if you order your flooring over a period of months, and then it’s still pretty unlikely. It should definitely not happen in a single run, in your case within a single order. If you think you have this issue, check your cartons’ labels. If they have all the same names and codes, they should be from the same run. If this issue is real (some laminates are actually made to vary from plank to plank, but it won’t take many boxes to figure that out) it’s a manufacturing problem, and you need to call us.
Actual Manufacturing Flaws
Again, we rarely run into these (in fact most of these we’ve never seen or even heard about from customers) but as you open and go through your boxes these are the things you could look out for which would be manufacturing issues, and you would contact us to get these sorted out for you if they came up. Also, don’t install any planks you believe have issues. Once installed, the manufacturer will consider the error the responsibility of the installer, whether a professional or yourself.
Locking Mechanisms Broken – This could happen on the sides or a corner. Usually if this happened it would result from shipping, and you likely would have caught it already, but something like this could escape quality control. If you install with these you could get loosely fitting planks and some unwanted movement of the floor. To prevent causing these yourself, read your specific instructions closely. Some locking mechanisms only click after a certain angle. Some need to be tapped together, and some must never be tapped. Many laminates’ warranties don’t cover planks that have been separated and reconnected too many times.
Proud Edges – This is a professional’s term for any difference in height between planks where they are joined together. There is a tolerance in manufacturing, usually around 1/10th of a millimeter, at or under which the manufacturer would not consider the occurrence a flaw. The reason is that, with padding underneath and variances in a subfloor, this much of a difference could be location based. If you run into this, try to take a very close picture of the edges, even stick a ruler in there if you can to show what you’ve got.
Micro Chipping – These would appear along the very edge of a plank, not just one little knock, but a series of tiny chips, maybe along the whole plank. This would come from a dull cutting tool at the manufacturing plant. (I don’t have pictures – this is one we’ve never run into)
Chatter Marks vs. the Hand-scraped Look – Honestly, this is mainly a hardwood issue, resulting from errant sanding. It’s hard to feel, but would seem to be like wavy lines going across the top, best seen in light reflecting directly off the surface. Since laminate floors aren’t actually sanded, this effect is unlikely here, but we don’t want you to hear about it and get it confused with the hand-scraped look. That’s much more pronounced – you can feel it. You’re supposed to, and it’s likely that you chose it for that very reason. If you think you have actual chatter marks on a laminate plank, try to send us pictures with light glaring off the surface to show the issue.
Core Voids – This would look the way you might expect a dent from a dropped object to look, except that there will be no stress cracks around the indentation. This means that no core exists under the top layer, and it was pushed through.
Blistering – It’s what it sounds like, a bubble in the surface. These could be as small as pimples. This would basically be a small example of delamination.
Delamination or Loose Top Coating – This is when the top layer, the laminate itself, becomes disconnected from the core of the board – peels up, basically. It can be a manufacturing issue, in which case you should see it right away, right out of the box, or it could be something that would happen all at once to all, or a good section, of your floor. Otherwise it would result from improper exposure to moisture or heat. Anytime delamination is seen at a seam, where two planks are joined, it is almost always ‘site related’, meaning that it happened where it’s being installed, not at the plant.
Printing Errors – This would be an actual blemish, like a solid spot in an otherwise patterned image. After a few boxes of your flooring, this will stick out like a sore thumb from, say, an intended knot hole image.
…next you need to acclimate your flooring to the room in which you will install it.
Here are the next three parts of this series:
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David is a Writer at Floors To Your Home (.com), as well as the PPC Manager, a Marketing Strategy Team member, a Researcher, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jitō. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’) and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on W. David Lichty’s Google+