Here is a descriptive account of the time-line:
• 898.32 square feet of VM HS Solid Golden Teak ¾ x 4-3/4"SKU: 10006652/VMGT5/2009
Flooring and Eco Silent Sound HD Underlayment were purchased from Lumber Liquidator’s, with 30 Year Warranty, delivered directly to our home and placed in the living room to be acclimated.
• December 2014: Started preparing the whole main area sub-floor with 1/2” plywood, for Hardwood flooring to be installed.
• Jan 07, 2015: Starter rows are established and racking begins after laying the underlayment. The material coming out of the boxes during installation looked sound and usable other than for some pieces that fell within the 5% defect allowance specified by the manufacturer. These were culled aside and not used. Racking is substantially completed.
• Jan 08 – 09, 2015: By the end of the Jan 9th the majority of the floor is installed with the exception of approximately 100 square feet to be completed. The installer asking for more money, we paid the final 1500 $ (to be 4000 $ in total). After the installers had left for the day and during the weekend we noticed that some boards which lied out of the boxes in the living room that show chipping and splitting.
• Jan 10, 2015; We carefully go over the remaining installed flooring and discover other boards that show similar issue. We informed Lumber Liquidators local store and reporting the flooring matter. The store manager came out to the site to view the floor and He asked us to get everything on hold, acknowledged there was a problem ( in this patch) , and the arrangements were made to ship samples and box of unopened material to the head office in Virginia for inspection.
• Jan 15, 2015; Filed General Disclosure Statement and sent with more than 10 pictures to Customer Service Representative (Courtney) plus, more than 15 Boards and one unopened box has dropped at local store.
•Jan 30, 2015; over the next several days the chipping and splitting are noticeably increasing throughout the installation and Lumber Liquidators is notified of the increasing effect. We begin marking boards that exhibit chipping and splitting with masking painters tape to reference the floors current condition. It is approximately 75% of the boards throughout had shown forms of:
1- Milled incorrectly.
2- Varying widths caused severe gaps with the following row.
3- There were several pieces tongues that shattered as the installer nailed them.
4- Many knots and cracks are poorly filled with a polyresin caused a terrible inconsistent finish, they reopened later.
5- Some boards staining, coating and finishing had a bubbly surface, the top coat had bubbles all throughout it, and it almost like a sticker goes on top of the board edges and peels off and bubble up.
6- The seams were not seating flush, some off by 1/16", which caused nails to be exposed.
7- Even when a "good" board is found, it may split lengthwise when nailed in.
And the list goes on.
Upon review and inspection of the installed product we discovered that most of the defective boards had already filled with polyresin (Putty ) by the manufacturer and some are glued at the edges intentionally , during installation process , it would showed small crack started at tips of filling areas and increasingly grown along the whole board lengthwise .
If we consider the area of our Living room only to investigate; it is about ( 350) Sqft, the installed area is (256) Sqft which consisted of ( 352) boards and we have about( 262) defects in (185) boards which already noticed and marked by tape, that means we have an average 75% of the product is defective on 53% of the total Boards and each installed Sqft has a little more than one defect.
The product does not match the internet sample and store sample. It only contains short pieces (Maximum length is 31”) which are different than the sample area installed at local store; it has many boards more than 41” with very few short boards. In addition, what we were sold was supposedly Made in the USA by Virginia Mill Works, but it turns out the products from Lumber Liquidator is manufactured in China. This explains the poor quality.
• February 5, 2015; We commissioned Floor Forensics to conduct an independent third-party inspection based on National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) protocol, installation standards & guidelines.
• Feb 7, 2015: Lumber Liquidators arrange to have someone to come out to inspect the floor. He was there for only 35 minutes. He is not certified by the NWFA as an inspector, He did not equipped by required measuring tester.
• Feb 10, 2015; The report is written by someone in Florida who did not actually see the floor. The inspector states that staples were used to fasten the floor, which is also incorrect (cleats were used), and in some of supporting photos contained within his report, the MCC 220 Wagner moisture meter is shown running perpendicular to the grain of the wood which will give it a false reading, because he kicked off the meter many times by his foot all over the floor.
Lumber Liquidator’s letter of denial claims that while onsite the inspector “removed pieces from an uninstalled box of wood and observed splits on the ends”. This is also not correct. The single carton that is left over still remains unopened. He mentioned that 75% of the boards have splits on the ends.
His conclusion was;
1- Site Related Issues: There were no site related issues present.
2- Installation Related Issues:
Boards that have areas that have been filled and a poor finish should have been culled and not installed. The installer has a responsibility to inspect the floor before installation. An inspection of uninstalled hardwood indicated split ends were present before installation.
3- Manufacturing Related Issues: There were no manufacturing related issues present.
This report shows; there are 75% of the product is defective in general, even some, prior installation. And still LL not responsible for this Substandard flooring.
• February 11, 2015; Courtney, Lumber Liquidators Customer Relation Specialist, sent email stated that :
Because of the foregoing Lumber Liquidators, Inc. will take no additional action regarding this matter as this is an installation related condition, and not a warrantable claim. I hope you find this information helpful as it may help reduce if not eliminate the problem.
It is very apparent that a decision had been made prior to the completion of this so-called "investigation". It's amazing to me that a company is so adamant about taking no responsibility for such a poor product (75% defect) that is marketed to be "durable" with 30 years warranty, but it seems there is no quality control had been done at all for this product before wrapping and delivery.
• February 12, 2015; I received Floor Forensics inspection report, the conclusion is;
1- Regarding Origin:
The bold logo on the cartons (VIRGINIA MILL WORKS CO.) would lead one to believe that the product is manufactured in the USA, as the sales representative was misinformed about the products in his own showroom. The product was in fact manufactured in China.
2- Regarding Grade:
1- VM HS Solid Golden Teak is listed and sold as Select Grade. The price they paid reflects this. The showroom sample showed long boards up to 47” in length, none had open checks in the finish or split boards. The average board length was much shorter than they were led to believe.
2- The three pictures on page 21 show how the mill actually attempted to fuse cracks with glue and then fill them with putty. This was done intentionally by the manufacturer, and when you take in consideration the number of short boards that were contained in the cartons with these types of attempted repairs, you can understand the homeowner’s questions regarding what grade or quality of wood they were actually shipped.
3- Regarding Quality:
1-The hardwood when tested on the day of the inspection still had moisture contents ranging from 9.5 to 10.5% MC. Many exotic woods have a dense cell structure that takes much longer to adjust to site.
2- On page 5 of the manufacturer’s installation instructions it does state that this product has a moisture range allowance of 6 to 14% MC which is much wider than the 6 to 9% MC range Canadian mills manufacture to.
3- Over an extended period of time, these defects have worsened, and more have continued to appear until they now have a failure rate approaching 75% of the floor as shown in the photo on page 1.
4- In addition, some of the boards have shrunk noticeably and gaps are appearing between some parallel rows. Also, the exposed tongues shown in the photo on page 5 have cracked. Both are the result of the wood drying to the equilibrium moisture content (EMC) of the home.
5- Lumber Liquidators have chosen to ignore the origin and grade misrepresentation of the floor, and the overall poor quality control at the mill. The material supplied does not meet with their own product description. Instead they have taken a “you installed it, so you own it” position, which absolves them of all responsibility.
The Industry Standards section of this report on pages 22 to 34 clearly outlines the cause of the defects in this floor as manufacturing related. The wood quality in the material supplied is very poor. It is full of defects, many of which were knowingly disguised by the mill in China at the time of manufacture.
Cause: Manufacturing defects.
• February 16, 2015; I sent email to Lumber Liquidators stated;
Your letter dated February 11, 2015, is completely unacceptable and unjustified.
And I attached Inspection Report performed by independent third party Inspector licensed by NWFA.
Please try to take a reasonable action for the “Manufacturing Defects” and stand behind your product. Let me know your response to this report by Friday the 20th, otherwise I’m going to take the case to a higher level.
As expected with many follow up emails and voice messages, no replies from LL.
We have had to put our entire project on hold and had to live in a big mess for more than two months. All other contractors (Painter, Electrician and Stair Renovators....) have to wait until we get our transaction with the flooring company straightened out. That is mean we could have more months of idling.
We expressed our extreme disappointment and our unwillingness to throw away thousands of our hard earned dollars on defective flooring. The floor installation is completed by 80-85% and the floor itself is supposed to have a 30 Year Warranty as mentioned on the Invoice. In one hand, we have already paid the full amount for the Hardwood flooring to the company ( 5,936.00 $) which is value right now more than ( 7095.56 $ US Dollars) according to LL’s website , installation ( 4000.00 $ ) and other supplies and expenses ( around 2,900.00 $ ) . On the other hand, we got unbearable flooring that we can’t stand living with it. We are out of a lot of money and we have flooring that needs to be ripped out and replaced.
I would like to know anyone's experience in small claims court with Lumber Liquidator's. Thanks