Hardwood floor prolem

A couple months ago (04/15/08) we replaced the carpet in our family room with hardwood. The product was engineered wood made by Capella Hardwood - pecan, if that makes any difference. It is tongue and groove and glued directly to the concrete slab.
When it was installed, it looked great. Since then, several boards have edges that are higher than the boards next to it. This certainly was not that way when it was first installed. The height of the raised boards varies from .005 to .017 inch, measured with a feeler gauge.
I called the dealer, who is local and been in business for 30 years, and who I have known for about 12 years. Fact is, after I retired in 1990, I went into part time contracting and whenever I had a customer inquire about flooring, I sent them to him. Probably only once or twice a year, but I am sure that some of those I referred to him bought from him.
Anyway, he came out and seemed to be spoiling for an argument from the time he walked it. He had a brand new feeler gauge, which I suspect he stopped and bought on the way over. He said that a variation tolerance of one board over the next was .012, and that most of the boards were within that tolerance. I said that this was not explained to me when I bought to floor. Since, I have gone to the web site of Capella Hardwood, and they make no mention of this variation.
He asked me what I wanted him to do. I said I wanted it fixed and he asked me how. I said I wasn't in the floor business and couldn't tell him how to fix it.
He said I could get another floor company to tear out the floor and install a new one, and if it wasn't the same way, that he would give me my money back. I thought this was a ridiculous solution for obvious reasons, mainly it would cost more just to have the old floor removed. Then he said he would call an independent floor inspector to come out and give an opinion. I didn't buy this either because if he hires an independent inspector, that inspector is going to obviously lean toward the dealer's position since he will be thinking of future business. At this point, the dealer (my friend) said I called him a liar, and went off on a tangent.
I said I wanted a company representative to look at this and get their input. This will happen next week. Of course, I don't know what the rep will say, and if they tell me this is normal, what path options I have or which to take.
If there is anyone in this group that has knowledge and experience with hardwood floors, I would sure appreciate your comments and suggestions.
Thanks in advance, Bob-tx (Georgetown)
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Im no floor pro but glueing wood plank to a slab on grade is something I would not have done. I would have considered a floating floor with moisture barrier, rated for high moisture areas. Call the manufacturer and get complete instalation recomendations, instructions and warranty with all exclusions, or all info on their product. It will just get worse over the years. I think his .12" being normal is bs, have him show it to you in writing. You should be dealing with the manufacturer on this as I am just guessing, even the store where it is sold will have an opinion.
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Bob wrote:

There is always some variation in height from one board to the next. Wood expands and contracts with temperature and moisture, and every board does it a little differently than the one next to it. Sometimes they cup a little bit; sometimes they get uniformly thicker or thinner. If you wait six months, the height differences will show up in different boards. They'll move around the room with the weather.
The tongue and groove joinery works to minimize differences, but it's not all-powerful. You can sand and refinish, giving you a perfectly even surface, but it's only for that day. As soon as the humidity changes, the boards will move a little.
If your height difference is only about 1/100th of an inch, I don't see a problem.
--
Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
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I am not a flooring expert or installer but I can give you an perspective as a design engineer.
The joint have a tongue and grove that must mate up. There has to be clearance between the tongue and grove to allow the parts to go together. This will result in one board being able to above its mating board by the amount of the clearance gap I would expect the clearance gap to be at least .010 inches. Also the board thickness has a tolerance (say +/- .005, more likely +/- .010). Now consider each board expands and contracts at a slight different rate. It is wood after all. A lip of .005-.015" sounds very reasonable. If the floor was perfectly flat (polished glass or metal held to precision tolerances) then a flat floor with no lips greater than .01 might be possible (this accounts for board thickness tolerance and expnsion/ contraction rates). So how flat is your sub-floor?
Bottom line: The installer came out and inspected the floor. Maybe his attitude wasn't the best. A manufacturer rep is coming out to inspect the floor. It sounds like the installer is standing behind his work. However, to be honest, you do not have reasonable expectations. If you want a floor where you would not detect the slight lippage, you should have gotten a floor with micro beveled edges.
Just my opinion.
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On Wed, 18 Jun 2008 10:34:14 -0700, noname87 wrote:

That's quite clear!
but I can give you an

[snip]
I installed engineered floor a year ago (DIY, though I doubt that matters). It's a different brand (Upo). I installed it free floating over a foam underlayment over a vapor barrier. I do not have the problem described in the slightest. If there is any height disparity it is virtually undetectable (I walk on it in bare feet all the time).
You should take a look at some engineered flooring sometime. I think it would surprise you. Certainly a .010 clearance gap in the groove is way too high; probably .001 is closer to it. A flexible material like wood doesn't need the clearance gap that metal does. A manufacturing thickness variation of .005 is way more than existed with my product. The variation from the tongue/groove to the surface is the thing that matters (not total thickness). I'd guess it was probably .001 or less, virtually undetectable by touch.
Conceivably the OP's variation might have come about with subsequent moisture absorption. (And if so it may well be an installation error, as others have suggested.) The material clearly expands and contracts significantly with humidity, as is explained in the installation instructions. (Gluing it to a radically different material seems risky to me because of that, but maybe if the glue remains flexible...) However, only board-to-board variations in expansion would cause the OP's problem. Hasn't occurred in mine, at least not to detectable extent.
I can't speak for the quality of any other brand than Upo. But it is clearly within the state of the art to do much better than what the OP described.
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Thanks for the feedback. I would expect close tolerances for all pieces from the same box. I am surprised that they can hold .001" tolerances in wood. I agree the .01 tolerance for clearance would be excessive. I am use to injection molded engineering plastics which usually are not held that tight. I guess you learn something new every day.
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Bob wrote:

I don't know your flooring or what a feeler guage is, just curious. Was a moisture test done before install? Was product delivered few days before install to adjust to temp/humidity? Capella's website has warranty and installation info, here: http://www.capellafloors.com/install_warranty.htm
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It does state moisture from underneath voids the warranty, but .01 variance is not a claim
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wrote:

...
I just finished installing 3/4" Capella Pecan 4 1/2" planks a few months ago as a replacement for a lot of carpet, but I did not go the glue down route on a lower level slab and opted for a floating subfloor with the hardwood nailed on top of that. However, I did consider gluing it down at first. If installed properly, the adhesive is supposed to take the place of a vapor barrier. Even if the floor was layed properly, I am not surprised by the variation. For one, that is why they bevel the edges of prefinished hardwood, to "even" out the changes a bit. Second, wood varies, and I would take that to mean that even though engineered, the wood in the plys varies a bit from plank to plank and therefore the plys may respond differently to moisture. We are talking just a shade over 1/64" here, and I guess I am not surprised by that amount of variation. However, if I saw 1/16" or greater, I might tend to start worrying.
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Your expectations are just plain ridiculous. Call your friend and if he is still talking to you, apologize to him.
Wood moves, expands, contracts with changes in humidity. Your concrete floor is not that perfect either.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Especially when the concrete finishers think: "Screw it. It'll be covered with carpet anyway!"
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