Builders continue to ignore what the flooring industry requires and have no intentions of changing their standards and expect an absolute perfect product and installation without having to change any of their practices, which fails to meet the flooring requirements. In the Builder Market it is all about COST! In most cases with track housing, we are putting the lowest cost value flooring products and adhesives in the absolute worst environment. No temperature control and very wet subfloors. This is a recipe for a flooring disaster. It’s all about cost.
New Construction Issues That I See
- Start to finish of a new home in some areas is as low as 45 days now. These homes are so wet that when the heat or air conditioning goes on, this house will start shrinking/moving and the flooring with it.
- The tolerances of the concrete supplier (1/4″ in 10″) are not in line with the flooring industry (3/16″ in 10 feet or 1/8″ in 6 feet) and the concrete supplier is not held to these tolerances at the job sites. The Builder does not want to pay for the extra prep of patching or grinding these subfloors to the flooring specifications, but on the other hand they complain when hardwood has hollow spots or the LVT is showing the rolls in the concrete subfloor. The Builders need to a line what the flooring manufactures require with the concrete finisher and hold the concrete finisher responsible to the tolerances which will greatly reduce the prep.
The pictures on the following page show a new construction concrete slab the Builder wants to install hardwood flooring on. This slab had several saw cuts/control joints cut into the slab which by design if the concrete slab is going to move, the stress happens at the saw cuts/construction joints. This slab cracked clean through the 4 inches of concrete and not at the saw cuts/construction joints. This concrete slab also dropped off over 1 inch in 2 feet where this crack happened as shown in the picture on the right. This concrete subfloor has serious structural damage and in most cases will be covered up by flooring.
- Builders continually want to reduce the installed flooring cost. Recently, my most frequent call in the Builder Market has been the Builder wants me to glue the LVT or sheet vinyl directly to the OSB subfloor. Other than hardwood flooring, vinyl flooring that is going to be glued down, needs a ¼ inch plywood underlayment. Gluing vinyl flooring directly to an OSB subfloor is like gluing to a pile of pressed hardwood mulch. The joints in an OSB subfloor panel are made to be installed with a gap so that when there is movement the OSB has room to move. When you fill these joints with patching material and then gluing a vinyl floor directly to the OSB, when the OSB does move it forces the patching material upward leaving a tunnel along the OSB seams.
The Builder is not just beating the flooring contractor down; they are beating every supplier down in price. The record profit for these Builders continues to grow every quarter and you the flooring contractor have all the liability. The real loser here is the new homeowner. What they think they are getting, is very different from what they are getting.