Preventing & Troubleshooting Problems pt. I: Arrival and Inspection

Preventing & Troubleshooting Problems pt. I: Arrival and Inspection

There can be problems with any product from the manufacturing to the time of product’s use. Our goal here is to help you properly identify any issues with a delivered floor so you can either prevent them or fix them.

This is how our deliveries work:

What to do When your Floor Arrives

Problems are rare, but who knows if your driver, or the one before her, had to suddenly swerve to avoid some silly person in a car, and something in the truck shifted? None of us will know that, but the delivery company is responsible for getting your stuff to you in good shape regardless.

Why inspect?
This is how one pallet arrived to us!

This is how one pallet arrived to us!


When you open your boxes or cartons and see your flooring directly for the first time, what happens if you see something that concerns you?

First, Some of these are not flaws

Is this floor board “warped”? No, it isn’t, not this one. It just settled in its box a bit, and it will straighten right out when you snap your floor together. This quick video, under 2 minutes, shows what we mean. (By the way, we’re really pushing down on it in this video, to force a curve – they don’t actually come with this much.)


First or Second Quality?

We sell two types of floors: Normal, top quality, fully warrantied floors you'll get anywhere else, at a great discount because we've made some special deal on factory overruns, products being replaced in big box stores and so on.  We're like a Flooring Outlet Store.

We also carry 'Seconds', or Cabin Grade (or Tavern Grade - these have a lot of names, because some are embarrassed to sell them.  We're not, because a lot of people are looking for exactly that - a super inexpensive floor which, with a little extra work and a little more unused material, can end up looking just like the $8/sqft. version, except that it only cost $2/sqft.  If that's not for you, then it's not, but if it's what you purchased, we’ve put explanations and videos on the site explaining flooring ''seconds,'' but you might have missed them, or forgot that these were what you bought, or maybe you’re helping a friend put down a floor and you find something alarming. This video shows details and examples of seconds planks, and showing how to install them to get the beautiful floor you planned on.

Color Deviations between factory runs
– It’s best to buy your entire floor at once. Most people do, of course, but sometimes people will buy the very lowest possible amount needed, intending to grab another carton later if necessary. That certainly may work (though shipping costs on just 1 or 2 cartons is insane) but occasionally when a manufacturer returns to producing a particular product, there may be a slight variation in the shade or tone of the color. It would be indiscernible … unless installed into a big room full of the original shade. This should only even be possible if you order your flooring months apart, and then it’s still pretty unlikely. It should definitely not happen in a single run, in your case within a single order. 

Some floors are actually designed to vary from plank to plank, but it won’t take opening too many boxes to figure that out.  But if you think you do have this issue, check your cartons’ labels. If they have all the same names and codes, they should be from the same run. If it’s an actual manufacturing problem, then call us.


Actual Manufacturing Flaws

Again, we rarely run into these (in fact most of these we’ve never actually seen or even heard about from our customers - the pictures are stuff we received and sent back) but as you open and go through your boxes these are the things you could look out for which would be manufacturing issues, and you would contact us to get these sorted out for you if they came up. 

Also, don’t go ahead and try to install any planks you believe have issues. Once installed, the manufacturer will consider the error the responsibility of the installer, whether that's a professional or yourself.

Broken locking mechanisms.

Broken locking mechanisms. This is really a shipping issue - a banged box - but it illustrates what we're talking about.

Locking Mechanisms Broken – This could happen on the sides or a corner. Usually it would result from shipping, and you likely would have caught it already, but something like this could escape a manufacturer's quality control, and not be found until you open a box. If you install with these you could get loosely fitting planks and some unwanted movement of the floor. 

To prevent causing these yourself, read your specific instructions closely. Some locking mechanisms only click after a certain angle. Some need to be tapped together, and some must never be tapped. Many laminates’ warranties don’t cover planks that have been separated and reconnected too many times.

Proud Edges – This is a professional’s term for any difference in height between planks where they are joined together. There is a tolerance in manufacturing, usually around 1/10th of a millimeter, at or under which the manufacturer would not consider the occurrence a flaw. The reason is that, with padding underneath and variances in a subfloor, that much of a difference could be location based. If you run into this, though, try to take a very close picture of the edges, even stick a ruler in there if you can to show what you’ve got.

Laminate Proud Edges

Micro Chipping – These would appear along the very edge of a plank, not just one little knock, but a series of tiny chips, maybe along the whole plank. This would come from a dull cutting tool at the manufacturing plant. (I don’t have pictures – this is one we’ve never run into)

Chatter Marks vs. the Hand-scraped Look – This is mainly a hardwood issue, resulting from errant sanding. It’s hard to feel, but would seem to be like wavy lines going across the top, best seen in light reflecting directly off the surface. Since laminate floors aren’t actually sanded, this effect is unlikely there, but we don’t want you to hear about it and get it confused with the hand-scraped look. That’s much more pronounced – you can feel it. You’re supposed to, and it’s likely that you chose it for that very reason. If you think you have actual chatter marks on a laminate plank, try to send us pictures with light glaring off the surface to show the issue.

Core Voids – This would look the way you might expect a dent from a dropped object to look, except that there will be no stress cracks around the indentation. This means that no core exists under the top layer, and it was pushed through.

Blistering – It’s what it sounds like, a bubble in the surface. These could be as small as pimples. This would basically be a small example of de-lamination.

Delamination or Loose Top Coating – This is when the top layer, the laminate itself, becomes disconnected from the core of the board – peels up, basically. It can be a manufacturing issue, in which case you should see it right away, right out of the box, or it could be something that would happen all at once to all, or a good section, of your floor. Otherwise it would result from improper exposure to moisture or heat. For instance, anytime de-lamination is seen at a seam, where two planks are joined, it is almost always ‘site related’, meaning that it happened where it’s being installed, not at the plant.

Printing Errors – This would be an actual blemish, like a solid spot in an otherwise patterned image. After a few boxes of your flooring, this will stick out like a sore thumb from, say, an intended knot hole image.

…next you need to acclimate your flooring to the room in which you will install it.

Here are the next three parts of this series:

pt.2: Preparation Before Installation
pt.3: Care During Installation
pt.4: Living with Your Floor

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David is has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager, a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with  W. David Lichty


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