When selecting a wood floor brand, it is important to read the warranty carefully. The warranty will clearly state what is and is not acceptable with regard to your hardwood floor. It will explain how and when you are protected should something go wrong. Some people will choose a wood floor based on the warranty. This is not recommended. In contrast, other people will purchase a wood floor and not even glance at the warranty. This is also not recommended. It is important to read your warranty for sure so you know how to make a claim if you need to. If you want to be in the know and prevent an emergency, read over this article and the manufacturer’s warranty before installing your floor!
It is hard to select a wood floor brand when there are so many on the market, but the quality, price, style, and so forth should be the determining criteria for your floor. The warranty should never ever be a deciding factor for purchasing your floor. In fact, as we look at some of these warranties closely, we will begin to understand how convoluted they are and how many loopholes they actually have. Even though some of these warranties may look appealing on the onset, the closer we look at them, the more we will see that they really do not protect the purchaser all that much.
Most floor warranties will be coupled with a floor maintenance or floor care kit guide. The reason for this being that it shows the homeowner what to do when a problem occurs. Most floor warranties protect the purchaser very little. The floor maintenance kit is available to you so that you can fix your floor by yourself. The manufacturer typically wants to avoid phone calls from people who have purchased their floors. The manufacturer knows that a phone call usually means a floor problem.
So what does your warranty actually cover? This article will have an in-depth look at three different companies, namely; Bellawood Prefinished Hardwood Flooring, Bruce Flooring and Anderson Pacific Floors. As we examine these warranties and translate them into laymen’s English, you will notice that most of these warranties are actually quite similar to each other with regard to what they will cover.
Bellawood Prefinished Hardwood Flooring
Their Warranty: Bellawood 50 Year Residential, 5 Year Commercial Warranty
The Bellawood warranty only covers floorboards that have not yet been installed. Once the floorboards have been installed, Bellawood sees the homeowner as approving of the floor the way it is. Stated differently, if the floor has already been laid, the purchaser has seen no defects in the wood and consequently, will not be covered if he notices something after the floor has been installed. The idea is that if the homeowner has chosen to lay the floor, the floor should be perfect and flawless. Lumber Liquidators, the reseller of Bellawood, has written up the warranty in conjunction with the manufacturer.
Most people are going to encounter problems with their floors after they have been installed. When the floorboards arrive, usually there are not that many problems yet.
Bellawood states that 5% of the total square footage in domestic species and 10% of the total square footage in exotic species may have some milling, grading and finish defects. The consumer is to allow for this when purchasing a floor. This is referred to in the industry as “waste factor”, and it will not be covered in the warranty.
It reads, “Installed product is considered accepted by the purchaser/installer and, as such, is not covered under the warranty…” If there are floorboards that do not meet the purchaser’s standards, when it is less than 5%, the manufacturer will never cover this. It is up to the homeowner to hide the flawed floorboards in a closet or trim off the areas and not use them at all.
Like the majority of warranties, the Bellawood one is not transferable. It is only granted to the original purchaser. If the homeowner decides to sell the house, the warranty becomes void. Most people do not live in a house for 50 years nowadays. A 50-year warranty may sound very appealing, but it actually does not really mean anything. Also, the warranty only grants store credit. No monetary consolation is ever given. Perhaps you may get a new floor if you are lucky but you will have to pay for the removal of the old floor and the installation of the new floor.
If there are any problems because of how the floor was installed, the sub-surface, the subflooring material, or onsite environmental deficiencies are not covered under the Bellawood warranty. Anything that is not the direct result of the Bellawood floor itself is considered unrelated and consequentially not covered in the warranty.
Bellawood has a very specific list of criteria that the purchaser/installer has to meet or exceed in order to fall under the warranty. Details such as temperature, moisture, how the subfloor is laid, and so forth are necessary to follow if the warranty is to be usable. Some floor contractors will not even look at the warranty. This means that they will not lay the floor according to the manufacturer’s specifications. It is obviously important to find a floor contractor who will take into consideration the warranty specifications especially if it expressly states how to install a floor. This way, you will have your floor warranty to back you up if the need arises.
Because hardwood floors are naturally derived, color, tone and grain variations are not covered under the Bellawood warranty. This is pretty standard in floor warranties. Similarly, when a floor expands and contracts, it is considered an environmental occurrence that may create gaps between floorboards. Because this is an act of nature (also called and act of God), Bellawood is not liable for repairing or replacing these floors. Moisture problems that create warping and cupping are not covered because it could be environmental, caused by an unapproved cleaning product or the result of a leaky pipe.
The compensation will never exceed the cost of the floor that was purchased. This is the Bellawood floor warranty in a nutshell.
Similar to Bellawood, the Bruce warranty is not transferable. In fact, you actually have to present the sales slip when you want to use the Bruce warranty.
The Bruce warranty is only good for 25 years.
Bruce has many warranty clauses that protect the consumer with regard to very specific details. However, there are limitations to how their warranty works. For example, the Lifetime Subfloor Moisture Protection Warranty only protects you if you keep your proof of pre-installation moisture test results and sales slip confirming your use of Bruce’s recommended adhesives. Not everybody remembers to moisture test before laying floors. The Radiant-heated Subfloor Warranty requires the homeowner to keep the flooring surface at or below 85oF (29oC) and the relative humidity between 35% and 55%.
It is up to the homeowner and the installer to inspect the flooring before it is installed. Bruce will not accept claims on wood floors including labor costs where there have been problems with the wood. This clause is exactly like the Bellawood statement in their warranty. Always examine your floorboards carefully before they are installed.
Bruce goes through all the details of what the company will do if the homeowner needs to use the warranty. It is detailed and pretty fair. In order to use the Bruce warranty, you need to present your sales slip, make sure that none of the warranty conditions were broken, and that your claim is in the appropriate timeframe.
The Bruce warranty will cover the following: recoating, refinishing, filling or furnishing comparable flooring (of their brand) for the repair of a defective area or the replacement of the entire floor. It is not up to the homeowner to determine if the floor is to be repaired or replaced. Rather, it is up to Bruce to decide what the necessary action will be. If Bruce has tried to repair the floor and has been unsuccessful after several attempts, the company will refund the consumer for the portion of the floor that is faulty.
Further, if the floor was professionally installed, Bruce will pay a reasonable amount to compensate for the labor costs. This probably means that you may get quite a bit less than what you actually paid, but nevertheless you will get some money. (Considering that we just examined the Bellawood warranty, Bruce is clearly better for its warranty not to say that you should ever judge a floor by its warranty.) Bruce will also pay for the cost of direct repairs or replacement. The repairs or replacement would only be covered to a maximum of five years of the warranty.
The Lifetime Subfloor Moisture Protection Warranty only permits that the floor will be replaced or repaired once. If for whatever reason, there are still problems, Bruce states that its flooring products are not recommended for the site conditions and is therefore not liable.
The homeowner must only use what Bruce recommends with regard to floor care in order to keep the warranty valid. This is the case for the majority of flooring manufacturers. Many people who get hardwood floors use whatever cleaning product is trendy or is recommended to them at their local hardware store. This is a very fast and easy way to void your warranty. It is very important to always use what the manufacturer recommends.
That said the list of what Bruce does not cover is quite long. Any act of nature, flooding and water damage, humidity problems that cause the planks to separate, fires, color variations and changes, instillation defects, and so forth are not covered. Commonly, in most floor warranties including Bruce’s, you will see that scratches or indentations and the reduction in the gloss finish are not covered.
In the warranty, Bruce explains how to take care of your wood floor with regard to specific spills like candle wax, chewing gum, ink, grease, etc. It also goes over all of the products to use for your floor and when they are necessary. The Bruce warranty equips its consumer with the knowledge he needs to protect and care for his floor.
What does Bruce actually protect? If you examine the warranty very closely, you will notice that they actually protect you very little. In fact, their list of what they do not protect against is quite long. If the problem is very clearly a defect in the wood floor planks and it has nothing to do with how the floor was treated, not the result of a faulty subfloor and not related to an act of God, then there is a good chance that Bruce will protect you. Every situation is different and it is obviously hard to assess a floor without seeing it. If there is a chance that the problem looks like it was the fault of the homeowner, it seems that Bruce will definitely notice that and not compensate.
Anderson Pacific Floors (these are engineered hardwood floors)
Unlike Bruce and Bellawood, the Anderson Pacific warranty begins with the floor maintenance section. It states that their recommended cleaning routine must be employed regularly to ensure the longevity of their floors. Because an engineered floor is built differently than an unfinished hardwood floor, the warranty specifications are significantly different then the Bellawood and Bruce warranties.
A primary concern with engineered hardwood floors is that the plies should separate. If this occurs because of glue bond failure, Anderson will compensate the homeowner. However, this compensation is only good for three of their collections; the Homestead Collection, the Maritime Collection and the Kingsbay Collection. Anderson feels that their finish should not wear or peel off if the floor is treated properly. They give a fifteen year warranty on the floor finish for the above three collections as well as the Cumberland Collection. Anderson will replace the necessary floorboards, recoat the area or refund the cost of the affected planks. However, the problem sections have to meet or exceed 10% of the entire surface area of the floor to be considered. Surface wear is not covered in this warranty. It includes scratches in the finish and gloss reduction.
The Adhesive Bond Warranty is good for just one use and only pertains to the Homestead Collection, the Maritime Collection and the Kingsbay Collection. It can only be used if the adhesive bond failure is the result of moisture migration from beneath the subfloor. It is very specific. If this is not the reason the adhesive is faulty, this warranty will not work. If it happens a second time, Anderson says it is because the wrong adhesive was used or it was specific to the site conditions. After it is used once, this warranty will never be able to be called upon again.
Any squeaking, crackling or popping of the Anderson floors is not covered in the warranty.
The Anderson warranty is limited to the original consumer purchaser. The consumer has had to pay for the floor in full. The floor has to have been purchased for the consumer’s personal residence and not for resale. If it is a rental property, nonresidential or commercial purchase, it does not fall under the Anderson warranty.
The limited warranty that Anderson provides is only subject to those who register their floor within sixty days of purchase. It is necessary to have a receipt of the limited warranty registration information in order to get coverage. Proof of purchase, the purchase date, identity of the person who purchased the floor, and the installation location are all to be presented when getting compensation from the manufacturer. Without meeting all of these criteria, the purchaser will not be covered.
It is important to note that many people will forget to register their floor within sixty days. It seems that Anderson is banking on those people who forget to register. It is a very easy thing to miss. If forgotten, there will never be any compensation granted for any problem that may occur. Also, Anderson has the right to inspect the floor. If the homeowner refuses this inspection, the warranty is voided immediately.
Like other companies, Anderson is not liable if there are small knots, mineral streaks, grain variations, etc. on the floor. Once the floor is installed, if the purchaser notices defective planks, it is no longer up to Anderson. This clause follows the majority of warranties as we have already examined this in the Bellawood and Bruce warranties.
Like most other floor companies, if the purchaser uses unapproved products by another manufacturer, the warranty will become void immediately. Further, similar to other manufacturers, Andeson will not cover dents, scratches or dulling of the finish.
So how does my floor warranty protect me?
If you have installed your floor according to the manufacturer’s instructions, have never used any unapproved cleaning products, never had anyone wear high heal shoes, had animals, HAD CHILDREN, environmental changes, etc., then you are more than likely protected. Noisy floors, gaps, and so forth, are some of the common problems that consumers face with regard to their hardwood floors. No manufacturer is going to hold themselves liable for these potential problems.
In general, it seems like the manufacturer will give the consumer a fairly hard time before they repair the floor. Because almost every possible flooring problem does not fall under the warranty, it seems that the manufacturer is protected more than the consumer. On the onset, most warranties seem to cover everything with titles like “Lifetime Structural Warranty”. However, the more you examine your floor warranty, the more you will realize how little you are actually covered. If the floor is defective and has obvious manufacturing flaws, then there is a good chance that you will be protected – that is to say if you have not yet installed it! Once it is installed, good luck getting the manufacturer to recognize that it is a flaw on their end!
It is hard to assess a warranty situation without seeing the floor in real life. If the consumer will not allow the manufacturer to see their faulty floor, the warranty will not be usable. The manufacturer has the right to see the floor. It is important to always read your floor warranty carefully. Please don’t do anything that will void your warranty. Once it has been voided, the manufacturer will not even consider looking at your floor.
Also, even if your warranty does not say that you need your sales slip, it is always good to keep it. It will show the manufacturer proof of purchase, date of purchase and the name of the purchaser. You should always do a moisture test before laying your floor. These pre-installation test results should also be kept if something is to go wrong that is moisture related, if your warranty has a Subfloor Moisture Protection Warranty.
Always read all the fine print. Don’t buy your floor on the Internet or in “as is” condition if you ever want to claim a warranty. Anything that ever looks questionable could possibly render your warranty useless. Be smart and go through everything so you know how and when you are protected.
When thinking about buying a floor, make sure that you are going to get one that you will enjoy. Don’t pick a floor that you will never get anything from. Calling upon your warranty will mean headaches. Getting a claim from one of these manufacturers is like winning the lottery jackpot. And how often does that happen?!