Q: We had a floating floor installed in the living room, two bedrooms and a hallway. Just three weeks later the floor became warped, lifting in places like waves. We placed a couch there so no one would trip and fall.
The installer returned and added a threshold, which got rid of one of the waves, but the problem is far from solved. I told him he had nailed the floor, but he refused to even look where I was pointing at the nails by a baseboard.
Am I stuck with this floor? I am handy and own a few tools. Is there any way I can fix this wavy floor?
A: Your floor installer left you with quite a mess. We're very disappointed with the shoddy treatment. If you followed the advice we've regularly given, you hired a licensed contractor for this job. If so, a complaint to California's Contractors State License Board is in order. Also, a call to the Better Business Bureau wouldn't hurt. If a floating floor was indeed nailed down, the installer or his boss should be held accountable.
But if you are unable to get satisfaction from the contractor you may be able to solve the problem yourself.
No guarantees, but you might be able to flatten the floor in two steps. First, removing the nails from the offending boards will free the floor to float. Second, putting a heavy weight on the waves should compress the floor and make it flat.
Floating floors are engineered so that the floorboards are glued or snapped together to form a monolithic unit that floats on the subfloor. Proper installation requites about a quarter inch of space around the perimeter and no attachment of the floor to the subfloor.
When correctly installed, the flooring expands and contracts with changes in humidity and actually moves. If movement is restricted, the floor fails. The threshold your installer added has a groove allowing for expansion and contraction. But nailing the floor in other areas fixes the floor and restricts movement. The result, as you unfortunately discovered, is a wavy floor.
You can see where the rookie installer nailed the flooring. To fix the mistake you'll need to get rid of the nails. To do this, remove enough baseboard to be able to get under the flooring with a small pry bar to lift the floorboards. Hopefully you'll be able to wiggle the nail heads a bit so that the nails protrude above the boards. Use a pair of pliers to pull the nails. Make sure to put a hard surface between the pliers and flooring to prevent the floor being damaged.
With the nails out, place a sheet of plywood over each wave then put a heavy weight on the plywood to compress the floor. Let it set for a couple of days and check it for flatness. Hopefully the waves are gone. Finish up by reinstalling the baseboard.
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