by Lew Migliore
Common sense is a commodity that is sorely lacking in people today, and the floor covering industry is no exception. Every day we field questions from retailers, commercial flooring dealers, architects, general contractors and others whom you would think would know the answers since they sell and work with the product—particularly questions on the installation of a product, its performance, appearance, filing of a claim or getting a manufacturer to honor a claim.
An issue about the environment of a flooring material in which it is going to be installed; how to cheaply put a bandage on a problem that’s actually a hemorrhage, or how to easily fix a failure is also often asked about.
Granted some of the issues, especially when it comes to moisture and substrate conditions, are more technically involved and beyond the scope of the mentioned parties. But you would think that if you sell a product you would know all there is to know about it. Instead we hear, “why didn’t they tell us about this?”
I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret reason: Most manufacturers don’t understand their own products. As unbelievable as it may seem, few manufacturers have the technical savvy to fully understand the product, its installation, or even how it may perform in the field.
You may wonder how this could be so but if you’ve been in the industry any length of time you may recall when it was bristling with technical people, especially among the fiber producers. The recessions of the last four decades have decimated the ranks, so this is one of the reasons we don’t have the knowledge about the products we should. Having said that, the experience of selling the product should give you insight into how it will perform.
Another issue the industry faces is people believing words change the laws of physics or science. Statements made by flooring dealers, installers, manufacturers or accessory providers might have you believe that black is white because they say so. We’ve seen and regularly deal with problems and issues of epidemic proportions, knowing what the causes of problems are only to have them denied by the very people who caused them.
Or, like the earlier statement made about putting a bandage on a hemorrhage, someone thinks they can put some inexpensive potion on the floor to prevent a catastrophic failure. We can put it in a common sense term you can hopefully understand relative to your health: If you’re overweight; smoke and drink to excess; move only to go from one place to another, do little to take care of yourself, and don’t regularly see a doctor, your chances of living a fulfilled, healthy and extended life are severely compromised. There are no magic pills or potions to easily fix a flooring problem.
No miracle applications defy the laws of physics, and no flooring products can not be compromised by some condition or situation. There is common sense— only if you use it—to keep you from being involved in a problem that will result in pain, suffering and financial loss.
To clarify what’s been said, we should look at some specifics. Wood flooring is nothing more than a tree on the floor. It will expand, contract, dent, scratch or cup on the floor. To think that this won’t happen because it has a hard finish is delusional. Stain resist carpet and soil retardants don’t mean carpet won’t stain or get dirty: It will just resist the influences. Vinyl flooring will indent, scratch and scuff when subjected to damaging causes or abuse.
Just remember there’s no substitute for common sense. If you think you may have a problem, you most likely will. Trust your gut and ask questions before you get in trouble.