Laminate Floor Inspection

Laminate flooring is a multi-layer, synthetic flooring product installed as a cost-effective alternative to natural wood floors. Laminate Flooring Inspectors are trained in the manufacturing process and laminate flooring characteristics to help them spot defects and potential hazards.

Laminate flooring simulates wood, marble, limestone and granite, using a photograph installed beneath a clear protective layer. This image makes the laminate closely resemble a natural material, but the difference becomes apparent upon close inspection.

Homeowners may choose from among common wood styles such as maple, oak and pine, as well as exotic species, such as Brazilian cherry, mahogany and walnut. Finishes include low, medium and high-gloss, commonly known as piano finish. Beneath the wear layer is an inner core composed of melamine resin and fiberboard materials. Pergo® is the most popular brand of laminate flooring, although it is often mistakenly used to describe all laminate floors. Laminate floor manufacturers include Shaw Industries, Mohawk Industries, Mannington, Armstrong, Quick-Step

Laminate floors are environmentally friendly — the paper and wood are made from recycled products and they’re easy to maintain, as they are resistant to scratches, dents and demarcations. And, unlike hardwood floors, laminate floors can be installed without any expensive equipment or training. They are more affordable than hardwood floors and they’re often the better choice for homeowners who require an inexpensive floor that is expected to take a beating. Hardwood floors, however, can be sanded and refinished, and tend to add substantial value to the entire house.

Here is a list of defective conditions common to laminate floors:

  • Gapping
  • Peaking
  • Buckling and warping
  • Mold
  • Sound penetration
  • Abuse, accidents, scratches, and many types of water damage are not covered.

In summary, laminate floors are inexpensive and strong, but they’re not immune to a variety of defects.  A Certified Laminate Flooring Inspector who understands these defects and their causes can better advise his clients on appropriate remedies

 

 

About Flooring Inspectors

Flooring-Inspectors.com consists of a group of independent certified professionals and industry experts from across the United States and Canada. The inspectors listed on Flooring-Inspectors.com have experience in all phases of Carpet, Laminate, Hardwood, Tile, Marble/Stone and Vinyl floor covering; including manufacturing, design, specification, installation, maintenance, and inspection.

Inspector services extend from pre-installation consultations to post-installation analysis to help you determine the cause of the failure you have experienced.

Inspectors work with individual homeowners, business owners, architects, suppliers, contractors, attorneys, manufacturers, distributors, home builders, property managers, general contractors, engineers, insurance companies, installation companies, maintenance companies, facility managers… anywhere there is a floor in North America and Canada.

Flooring-Inspectors have the skills, integrity and expertise to identify and evaluate your floor, covering or surface failures and provide you with an unbiased comprehensive report.

Engineered Wood Flooring and Indoor Humidity

 

The proper level of indoor relative humidity (RH) is a moving target based mainly on the outdoor temperature. The lower the outdoor temperature, the lower your indoor RH% should be. This is to prevent condensation from forming on your windows and in your walls. An example would be a glass of your favorite beverage with and without ice in it. Without ice, the beverage is warmer and the outside of your glass stays dry. When you add ice to chill it, the outside surface of the glass is cold and begins to sweat. Unless you have a coaster, you get water all over the surface it’s sitting on, which can ruin it.

Most manufacturers of engineered wood flooring require humidity levels between 35-55%. BEWARE: If humidity levels are above, or below the manufacturers specifications, the manufacturer may not honor the warranty.

In most areas of the country humidity levels cannot be maintained over 35% once the outdoor temperature drops below 20F, and building experts warn against higher humidity levels because the excess moisture causes damage to the building. The chart below, referenced from Aprilaire outlines recommended indoor humidity according to outdoor temperatures.

If an engineered wood floor is specifically designed for conditions other than those that will be encountered at the job-site, then selecting another product suitable to the conditions should be considered.

Proper Indoor Humidity

During the heating season the average American home (unhumidified) may have a relative humidity (RH) as low as 13%. That depends on outside temperatures, as indicated here:

humidity_chart

Locate outdoor RH at the left of the chart and the outdoor temperature at the bottom. Your indoor RH is where the vertical and horizontal columns meet. This chart assumes that outdoor air is brought into the home and heated to 70°F.

Moisture Testing for Crawlspace and Basement

Moisture emitting from a wet basement or crawlspace is not only unhealthy for the occupants of a home, it can cause damage to vinyl, tile, laminate and wood flooring.

Hardwood flooring is especially prone to cupping and buckling when exposed to damp, or wet basements and crawlspaces. Moisture should be tested and any resulting issues should addressed before wood flooring is installed.

Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t pay attention to their crawlspaces or unfinished basements unless they actually find standing water. But the damages from moisture vapor are equally damaging.

There are two very distinct sources of damp in basements and crawlspaces, with distinct means of control – rising damp, and cold surfaces. Because humidity is lowest during the heating season, this test will be more accurate when the weather is hot and humidity is higher; typically during the spring, summer and early fall.

Below is a simple way to determine rising damp from condensation on cold surfaces:

test-for-moisture-concrete-150x150

On concrete or cinder block:
• Select a 12” square of the damp wall or floor and wipe it dry.
• Place a 12” square piece of plastic over the area, using tape or weights to hold the film edges down.
• Lay the plastic down and weigh down the edges.

On sand or soil:
Lay the plastic down and weigh down the edges.

Monitor the film until fogging or droplets form (a day or two).
• If the droplets are underneath the film, the problem is rising damp, and a source of external water needs locating and solving.
• If the droplets are on top, the problem is warm humid air entering the space and forming condensation on the walls, floor joists and sub-floor.

Save those Flooring scraps!

carpet_scraps

DO NOT THROW OUT THE SCRAPS or EXTRA MATERIAL.

We know, we hear it all the time, most of you throw out the carpet scraps, small pieces of tile or vinyl, or small cut laminate or hardwood boards because you think there isn’t enough to bother saving. We strongly advise you to store the extra material in a clean, dry space because…..

Carpet and Flooring is Warranted
Your flooring warranty may be limited to as little as 1 year, or as much as 50 years, but there is a warranty on every floor sold.

If a problem arises after installation, contact your retailer for advice. Your retailer may respond by inspecting the floor themselves or by commissioning an independent inspector, or they may choose to submit a claim to the manufacturer on your behalf. The manufacturer will then commission an independent inspector or send a Rep to look at your floor.

Flooring material may need to be tested to determine the cause of the complaint, and all to often we (inspectors) find there’s no material left over from the installation. Because most testing is destructive, an inspector cannot perform tests on the installed carpet or flooring.

There are certain circumstances when samples are needed and that’s when testing is the only reliable means of coming to a fair decision. A Carpet/Flooring inspector may ask for a sample and explain that testing needs to be performed. A Carpet/Flooring inspector will not cut your floor because they can’t responsible for the damages, but they may let you to do the cutting.

Common Carpet Tests:

carpet_tufts_pulling_out

There are hundreds of tests available for every conceivable issue. The most common tests for commercial and residential carpet are Tuft Bind (tufts are coming out), Stain Resistance, Resistance to Staining, Extractable Matter, Colorfastness, Abrasion Resistance, Delamination Strength, Fiber weight, and Color match comparison (to store sample),

Engineered wood flooring:

engineered-wood-floor-delaminateDelamination is one of the major concerns related to engineered wood flooring. Delamination occurs when the layers of engineered wood flooring separate.

Delamination claims require Bond-Line testing by a certified lab . For accurate testing, 10 uninstalled boards are needed to obtain 20 samples. If having and extra 10 boards on hand means ordering an extra carton of material – it is well worth the investment and future peace of mind.

Bond-Line tests the integrity of the adhesive bond within the flooring. First, the glue bonds between the flooring veneers within the flooring should not fail because of any normally lived-in humidity condition. The HPVA/ ANSI standard bond line tests are very aggressive in that the test pieces are soaked and then forcibly dried at an elevated temperature of 120 degrees F. Even relative humidity near 10% if found in a residence doesn’t approach the stresses generated by the soaking and drying cycle of the ANSI test. Veneer bond failure or delamination only occurs when the adhesive fails as a result of a manufacturing error or a catastrophic condition such as a flood occurs within the home.


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