New Flooring!

By Jeff | Jul. 27, 2014

About time! Our “2–3 day” flooring install job is finally finished only 4 weeks later! It was a long and very frustrating process, but it’s a huge improvement. New hardwood flooring is now installed where there was once brick tile, old vinyl, old parquet, and some not-so-bad carpet. It ties the whole first floor together. If you all the details on why we won’t be using Lumber Liquidators nor Apple Renovation Services again. If not, here’s the before and after photos.

Kitchen Before

Kitchen After

Dining Room After

Entranceway Before

Entranceway After

We chose bamboo primarily because we heard that it was a very hard material and great to have with dogs. It also happens to be a renewable resource unlike solid wood flooring and was cheaper. It was by far the best option all around. The only hard part was finding the right color. Since it’s a rarer flooring material each of the stores we went to only had a handful of samples. We finally found what we wanted at Lumber Liquidators, and chose the Tongling floating floor. After we picked the flooring though, things started going downhill.

The people in the store were generally helpful, although they weren’t the best at getting the details right. An estimator came to our house and measured everything out and told us that we needed to have raised transition pieces all throughout the floor unless we glued it down. The glue down was more expensive than the floating installation, but we really didn’t want the transition pieces. It also allowed us to have flush-mount vents, which we were told were not available with a floating installation.

When we picked up the materials, they forgot to add one of the pieces to our order and also had lots of confusion over where to get the flush-mount vents. Then they charged us the wrong amount (in our favor) for the installation, so we had to have another bill. What was supposed to a 5 minute installation payment and schedule wound up being a 40 minute ordeal.

We knew our dining room had a problem with the floor in that there was a huge dip on one side. The estimator said it was probably due to the subfloor needing to be replaced so he put that in our estimate and said one of the installers would be out to verify a few days before the install. When the installer got there, he checked out everything and said it wasn’t a problem; they could just sand it down and the subfloor was in great shape.

Before the installation, we removed the carpet from the living room and moved the furniture ourselves to save a few hundred dollars. The trick we found with the tack strips was to use a chisel and hammer. Hammer the chisel in near one of the nails, and then slide the hammer underneath the chisel to act as a fulcrum. Push straight down on the chisel and the tack strip comes up perfectly!

Library Progress

With everything moved into our family room, we were pretty much relegated to living upstairs until the floors were complete.

The installation was originally scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, with Friday added on in case they needed extra time. We got a call Tuesday night saying they would be there between 8:30 and 9:30 AM. At 9 AM the next day, we received a call saying he’d be there by 10. He showed up at 11 AM, worked until about 4 PM (they never sent him any help) and said that they would sand down the rest of the thinset from the brick tile in the morning.

Entranceway Progress

Dining Progress

The next morning, the actual installers arrived around 9 AM as they said and were clearly unhappy with the work that had been done the previous day. Much of the “prep” was not completed with nails still sticking out and the thinset that needed to be shaved off. The main installer, who has been in the business for 35 years, took one look at our problem dining room and said that there was no way he could sand that down and we needed some leveler, which takes about 12 hrs to set when putting it on that thick. He also was really confused why they had us gluing down the floor and said we should have it floating because that way if something goes wrong, it’s a very easy fix. If you glue down the floor and something goes wrong, you pretty much have to redo the entire floor. Apparently glue is generally ony used in a basement, and even then he’s not a big fan of using it. When asked about the vents, he assured us that he could install them in the floating floor with no problem.

Library After

Friday comes along and even though the installers said multiple times on Thursday and Friday it would be done, it becomes clear that they will not be done by the end of the day, so the project was set to be finished on Monday.

Kitchen Progress

On Monday, the project was “finished.” A few hours before the installers were done they try telling me I need to sign some form indicating the project is completed. Obviously I didn’t sign it. They rushed out pretty quickly leaving a huge mess on the floor and said multiple times that the boss would be in the next morning around 8 AM to haul away all the old material. He didn’t show up until after we called at 10 AM, saying he didn’t have us on the calendar until that afternoon.

Meanwhile, we discovered a bunch of issues with the installation. Significant portions of the floor weren’t level (including the dining room that we repeatedly told them about), baseboards were installed incorrectly, caulking was unfinished. Here are just a few samples of their work. We also wound up buying 2 dehumidifiers to get the humidity down – yet another thing we should have been told before they began

Flooring Failure

Flooring Failure

Flooring Failure

Flooring Failure

In all of this, we also had several mixed messages about needing an extra vapor barrier. Every other person we talked to gave us a different answer. Fortunately, it turned out we didn’t need one, but it’s just another example of bad communication.

After showing the problem areas to the installer’s boss, he agreed that they needed to be fixed so we scheduled for the next week. At that point, the installers were pretty mad at us and barely talked throughout the entire re-install. Hillary even caught them installing one of the sections worse than it had been the first time. I’m sure you can guess what happened after they left saying the boss would be in the next day to pick up the rest of the material.

Yup, he didn’t show. This time it wasn’t a garage full of stuff so we didn’t worry about it. You would think he’d come by to have us sign the work completed form since that’s how he gets paid, but I guess not.

Overall, the floors being done is more of a relief than excitement about a huge job. We will not be using Lumber Liquidators nor Apple Renovation Services for anything else.