Al’s Column: Warranties- Are they all the same?

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May 9/16, 2016; Volume 30, Number 23

By Roy Reichow

We live in a world where branding is paramount in business, whether it’s creating an image or promoting products we sell. In doing so, a wide variety of companies offer private-label products. Hardwood flooring companies have followed this trend. With that, it is important to compare warranty coverages when considering other product attributes. Whether it’s a major brand or a private label, contact the vendor from which you purchased the product for guidance in filing a claim.

Following are some common manufacturer warranty inclusions you may encounter.


Pre-installation warranty

Each plank of hardwood flooring should be inspected for color, finish and quality prior to installation. The accepted industry standard for off grade and manufacturing states deficiencies should not exceed 5% whereas a private label may state 10% for the same product. Installation of a hardwood floor warrants acceptance of any visible defects and voids the warranty. The private label may include normal color variations and natural characteristics discovered after the flooring is installed.


Full lifetime structural warranty

Some products of engineered construction resist expansion and contraction due to changes in climate. In the unlikely event plies should separate, some companies will replace the defective planks and install new ones at no cost for as long as the customer owns her home. Private label may read differently, such as, “Will repair/replace the defective planks and install new ones which exceeds the 5% allowance.” Some warranties will cover the material but not the labor.


Full lifetime moisture warranty

Look for warranties that state the flooring will not separate, twist, cup, warp or split as long as the original purchaser owns her home.

Another consideration: In-floor heating systems can affect a floor’s performance due to surface temperatures if the proper installation guidelines are not followed. Surface temperatures should be kept under 85ºF for best results. A private label may elect not to warranty the floor at all over any in-floor heat system.

The following issues are typically excluded from warranties:

  • Improper storage, handling or installation of flooring; squeaking and/or cracking by any cause other than the mismanufacture of the flooring
  • Neglect or abuse including, but not limited to, not taking proper precautions to cover furniture legs and feet with felt protectors; dirty or improper casters; moving heavy objects without a dolly and protective plywood beneath
  • Spiked and/or damaged shoe heels and pet claws
  • Dents or scratches in the flooring caused by furniture, appliances, casters or unusual foot traffic
  • Moisture infiltration from sidewalls or from any source

A warranty may also include a statement such as, “Brand X flooring is not responsible for labor costs associated with the repair or replacement of visually defective planks after the floor is installed.” In addition, guidelines for seasonal checking recommend maintaining relative humidity (35% to 55%) within the residence; a humidifier or dehumidifier may be necessary to obtain these levels.

It is important to understand the selling features and warranties of both name brands and private labels. In either case, the manufacturer has to warrant the product; any changes to these guidelines would fall on the seller.

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