Years ago, this was the million dollar question when selling a Laminate floor. This question could make or break a sale in a moment. Most flooring customers do not want a transition piece in a doorway as the flooring is extending into another room or area. Now, I am seeing more and more floating products requiring the use of T-moldings when a room reaches a certain size or when installing flooring through a doorway.
One such product that comes to mind is the floating Locking Strand Woven Bamboo. I checked Mohawk’s website on its Locking Strand Woven Bamboo and right up front, they state; warranties do not cover natural expansion and contraction which results in separation between planks, or damage caused by excessively low or high humidity. When first introduced, Locking Strand Woven Bamboo could go in any size room with no transitions. Now, the room size has been reduced and most times as T-molding is required when going through a doorway or even in irregularly shaped spaces, L-, F-, T- or U-shaped rooms, use a “T”-molding for intersections. The other issue is, this product is not being installed under the correct conditions, which makes it move. The correct conditions are room temperature should be 60 – 80° F, with relative humidity between 35 –55%. If these conditions are not met, this product is going to move, and move drastically. The movement is generally shrinkage, which usually results in plank separation.
Mirage Lock, a floating hardwood floor has always had recommendations like this and in 8 years, I have never had one complaint on a floating Mirage Lock product.
Armstrong and Bruce Floating Hardwoods states; If your room exceeds a maximum room width of 30′ or a maximum room length of 30′ additional expansion space is required. T-Moldings may be used at doorways or intersections to increase the expansion space. Again, the air relative humidity must be maintained between 35% and 55%.
Another product where I am seeing a change to transitions is locking LVT. More and more LVT manufacturers are recommending a maximum room size limit and the use of a T-molding if the room exceeds the maximum limit and also when going through a doorway. Metroflor Engage has just changed its instructions for maximum room size to 40′ x 40′ then you need a T- molding. If you in- crease the expansion to 1/2″ you can go 60′ x 60′. T-moldings required in all doorways. Passageways under 4′ require t-moldings. The reason, a locking LVT does not have the seam holding strength that a tape system LVT and could unlock itself if it becomes pinched or hung up at some point.
In my research, I really looked at Laminate Flooring. Many people say Laminate does not need to be acclimated or T-moldings are not required. I found this to be the total opposite, but you must really dig to find all the information. I researched 8 manufacturers and 6 stated that acclimation is required and T- moldings are required in doorways and when rooms reach a certain size. Manufacturer 7 & 8 had such vague installation requirements that they did not even list an expansion space. The other thing that really jumped out at me is that all 8 manufacturers had a required air relative humidity requirement. Air Relative Humidity must be maintained between 35% and 55%, some even go as high as 50%-60% RH, and one was 30% to 90% RH. Are you bringing this up with your customers?
What happens is that when these products and or the room moves through seasonal change, and it is mostly when they shrink, the flooring can get caught up in doorways or in the L-, F-, T- or U-shaped rooms which causes them to separate like in the photographs on page 1.
In the flooring industry, 97%-98% of all complaints are installation, subfloor or maintenance related. With today’s technology, flooring products, substrate preparation products, adhesives and installation techniques are changing at a rapid pace. Sometimes only “Fear” of claims and no warranty coverage make dealers change. It is the responsibility of the installer to assure that the products are installed in strict adherence to the manufacturer’s recommendations. It is your responsibility to keep up with the change. I am sure every product sold in your store, has a website with installation instructions and every carton of material has installation instructions with it. Check it out or ask your sales rep has anything changed on your products.