Mismatched Oak Floor - What to Do?

I hired a highly recommended hardwood installation company to install red oak in 3 rooms in the downstairs of my house. My instructions to them were to match the existing floors. They quoted the job, I verified that the pricing was reasonable, and turned them loose to do the job.
They are in day two of installation (they have it nailed down, sanded, and have applied one or two finish coats). More sanding and finish coats are planned. The problem is that the new wood doesn't match the existing wood. The color is fine, but the new wood has far more variation in grain than what it was supposed to match..
What to do? I cannot think of a resolution that involves anything less than a total tear out and replacement with the matching grade of wood, and I figure the chances of the contractor agreeing to that are nil.
Note, I've paid the guy a deposit that amounts to about 40% of the quoted price.
Suggestions?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Live with it. There is no practical solution. Trees grow in the woods and they have grain characteristics according to the conditions of the particular area. Water, drought, heat, other growth nearby all affect the final result. Chances are the trees from the original floor were 100 years older and maybe had a tighter grain than anything available today.
Only way to assure grain matching is to select each board individually before the flooring guy ever cuts it. You may have to view a thousand trees to come close. IMO, your expectations are too high. One of my hobbies is woodworking. I can show you boards that are six feet long and the grain variation is so different at each end you wonder if it is even the same species.
Culling wood to find only those that come close to the original could easily drive the cost up two or three times. I often look through a dozen boards to find two close enough for a small project. to do a floor would be a nightmare.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote in message

I probably should have been more clear. The difference isn't a tree to tree difference, it appears that the new material isn't the same "grade" as the existing. My existing floors are at least one grade "better" than what the guy has installed. Given that I'm not in the wood floor business, I'd guess the existing floor is either "Clear" or "Select" grade, and what he's installed is at least one step down the scale.
KB
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Kyle Boatright wrote:

That would mean that the old floor has no knots, and the new area has knots. It has nothing to do with the grain. The grain of all new wood is different than grain from wood milled even 20 years ago. Reclamation methods have made use of even the smallest part of the trees, and the harvesting of younger and younger trees plus fast growth techniques have changed the entire character of the lumber you buy today.
If you wanted matched grain, as a previous poster said, you will likely have to pay 3-5 times as much for the materials. Add labor if the stock must be sampled for grain matching.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You should simply appreciate the fact that Mother Nature comes in varying colours and shades. Not much you can do about this, but enjoy your new floors. Contractor is probably doing the best he/she can, but there's only so much they can do.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Jim M" <jim> wrote in message

The contractor blew it when he selected the matching grade for the installation. As the grading scale goes down, more board to board variation is allowed, and more variation (contrast) in grain is allowed. The existing floors are extremely consistant, with tight, almost parallel grain lines being the norm. The new material has very noticable grain, and much more board to board variation.
I figure I'm screwed, all because a contractor missed it when he specified the wood. Maybe he thought the $0.50/sf (or whatever) he saved by selecting a cheaper wood might get him the job, but it leaves me with floors that don't match, and I'm not happy at all...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

floor. All you have to do is establish that your existing floor is "grade A" and the new floor is "grade B". Can you do that? If not, then I (and any Judge) will think the new floor is perfectly good and in compliance.
I just built a a small mahogany table. I hate to tell you how long I spent trying to find wood that would go together well. Even then, I had to use three stains on different parts to get them the same color. Good luck on getting a uniform floor.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Kyle Boatright wrote:

With all due respect (tm) :), I think you blew it when you accepted the proposal w/o verifying the material specified matched your expectations...
You probably missed any reasonable opportunity to rectify the problem by not stopping work as soon as the first sign of trouble showed up while they were laying it...to wait until now when the whole floor is installed and partially finished leaves no recourse other than to scrap the material whereas before it could (most likely) have been returned for no worse than a restocking fee and (if you were willing to pay the difference) an acceptable flooring substituted...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I suspect you're right that I'm more or less screwed, and there probably won't be a resolution that will please me. I thought I was avoiding this kind of problem by going with a contractor who was highly recommended by a friend of mine who is the owner of a flooring store. I try and hire good contractors so I get the job done right. Until now, the strategy has worked well.
From my perspective, the point of no return was day 1 when the wood was laid, but the problem wasn't obvious until stain was applied on day 2. The problem wasn't apparent with the unfinished wood, but the staining process on day 2 (I was off at work, arguably a good place to be when the house is full of fumes) made the grain difference stand out like a sore thumb.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Kyle Boatright wrote: ...

Well, now you're back to a grain and color mismatch, not a "quality" issue...
If the grain is more pronounced in the present floor, there's a good probability that could be fixed (or at least greatly alleviated) by judicious use of sanding sealer(s), type and color of stains, etc. If just a clear polyurethane, perhaps over an oil-based stain was used, which would be pretty typical, the grain will be "popped"--that's what most people will choose. To mask some of the grain would require filling the pores first and choosing a semi-transparent stain as one alternative. An expert finisher could most likely do wonders, but it would, of course, require sanding down to bare would again as a starting point. Whether the floor mechanics have the expertise to do this type of custom finishing is probably iffy unless the firm they work for does a lot of high-end, custom work.
The unfortunate lesson to be learned is to not trust to chance on final appearance w/o seeing a finish sample if one is the least bit concerned about an actual "match" to any existing work. Your recourse is probably limited as I gather there was no a priori agreement w/ the contractor on what the definition of an acceptable "match" would be...
Actually, one thought strikes me...is it confirmed that the two floors are the same specie? Is it possible the original is, say, white oak while the new is red? In a case such as that you <might> have some recourse if the agreement includes matching such that not using the same specie would be seen as out of scope...
Good luck, is there a large shared area of flooring visible or simply on room through a doorway to another? Maybe there's a way to make a feature of it from a decorating standpoint and make the proverbial silk purse???
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Kyle Boatright wrote:

Quartered vs flat cut?
If you look at an end of the old (if you can) are the hard/soft areas vertical (quartered) or more or less horizontal (flat cut)? _____________

You told him "match". That in your contract? You said to him, "Hey, man, this new stuff doesn't match."?
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.05... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I would agree that your position depends a lot on what the contract says. You do have one right? What does it say? Also, if I were having this work done, I would have secured a few pieces of the new material, finished them, and then compared them to the original to be sure they matched close enough. A lot of this is subjective and what one may find acceptable, someone else will not.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Matching would refer to color and type of wood. No way you are going to match the grain.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
next time do a test board..
randy

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Quarter-sawn lumber does have a tighter grain pattern, but if you just put match in the contract, I think it may be reasonable that they just matched the size and color. See http://www.stuarts.net/Stuwritup/quarter/quartersawn.htm for the difference between quarter-sawn and the much more common flat-sawn lumber. I don't think they make a lot of quarter-sawn lumber anymore.
Kyle Boatright wrote:

--
SPAMBLOCK NOTICE! To reply to me, delete the h from apkh.net, if it is
there.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Last year I had quartersawn white oak installed on my 2nd floor. It cost about $700 more than standard. The flooring guy said he has rarely had anyone request it and actually seemed excited that I had. And my GC actually never heard of the term quartersawn, he thought I was nuts for paying extra until he saw it finished and how great it looks. Go figure.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.