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Flooring and Carpeting/Laminate installation inspection...


My name is Scott, and I own a company that does installations for Lowes. I have installed an Armstrong laminate floor that has seprated in several places within 6 months after install. I beleive this is due to an insuficient locking mechanism on one of there "New" 7' long plank products. We installed this floor at the beggining of Sept. We insured the proper spacing at the expansion joints during this time. I seen it with my own eyes... When the customer called Lowes and said there was aproblem with thier floor at the end of Novemeber, we went and had a look, There was several gaps in-between the planks in several places.The expansion gaps in several areas had since gotten smaller. I beleive this is due to the following... Once the warm season left, and the customer turned on thier floor duct heating, the floor expanded, and once it settled and retracted a bit, it seperated in a few areas due to the fact the locking system couldn't handle the retraction. The customer and myself put about 4 rows by 3 planks wide together of un-used product left over, in his garage, and we could pull the planks apart without lifting any. Meaning we could separate the planks while thery lay completly flat. Of course once a claim was in place, Armstrong sent a "nuetral" inspector out. ( what a joke) Myself, the home owner, and the Lowes installation manager were present while this inspector was doing his thing. They he submitted his report to Armstrong only. We did not get a copy. Armstrong of course then reported back to Lowes that it was an install issue. They cited there was an issuficient expansion gap in multiple places, and buckling and seperation was the result. There was no buckling anywhere. only seperation. What a joke! Im at a loss for what to do.. I do not want to buy these people's flooring, and all of us agree to what the real issue is! The home owner, the installation manager, and myself know it's the material! Any sugestions on how to get them to pay? Any Lawyers whom deal with this kinda stuff? Any experience with getting a claim approved after they deny it? The inspection was a joke. We showed him some material and gave him a demonstration of how easy it separated at the beginning, and of course he left it out of his report (as far as we know) Armstrong was the one whom sent thier findings back to Lowes, not the inspection company! I feel this is a dirty side of these flooring manufacturers.. I need help, the flooring they bought was about $6000 worth..

The way to overturn a claim is to hire your own independent inspector to get another opinion.  I would also have the inspector send some of the planks to an independent testing lab that deals with floor coverings.  If you do this it won't carry any weight.  You have to have an independent inspector do this.  

The IICRC has independent inspectors certified in HW and laminate, and there are others.  Professional Testing Lab in Dalton GA is a very good independent testing lab.  You can call Lee there and ask him what kind of test would be appropriate to validate what you do.  While you can do some of the research, have the inspector request and send the product for testing.

I'd also google and see if there are other similar complaints on this product.   

It is not unusual for you not to get a copy of the report.  Its their report and they do not have to share  They just take the report and do their own report of findings.  They do not have to share and though rare, they can disagree with the report and still do a determination that is contrary to what the inspector wrote.  

Movement of the gaps is neither an installation or material defect.  Gaps are there for this reason, to expand and contract.  That is a perfectly normal trait of HW and laminate.  I would have found the homeowner to have unrealistic expectation if that is all it is.  Buckling is different, but you say it is not occuring.  But I would also make sure your inspector is aware of the range of humidity and temp Armstrong requires of the area.  You most likely will find the home is not within range.  Reality is, few are.  But that alone can be what you need to get you off the hook.  

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Carol Blaha


Flooring questions: Specification, Warranties, Inspections, Product Knowledge, Enviromental Issues


I have been in the field 25 years, first as a specifier, then retailer and currently manufacturer representative on contract with 8 manufacturers, independent inspector and conduct moisture testing. Founding board member of the CO Chapter, US Green Building Council

WFCA (World Floor Covering Association), NTCA (National Tile Council America) SCRT (Society of Cleaning & Restoration Technician), ASTM F60, (Environment) and F06 (Resilient Floor)

Colorado Real Estate Journal, Smart Buildings

MBA, CTC (Certified Tile Consultant), RRT (Carpet Repair & Reinstallation), CCT (Carpet Cleaning Technician, ISSI (Substrate Inspection) and completed coursework for Independent Ceramic Tile Inspector, Hardwood/Laminate Inspector and Senior Carpet Inspector. Scheduled to complete Independent Resilient Inspector in April.

Awards and Honors
Multiple Awards for Salesperson of Year and President's Club

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Clients include Fortune Co's to mom and pop

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