How to Look for Different Causes of Floor Failure as an Inspector

By Scott Taylor

One of the hardest things I deal with as an inspector is receiving those phone calls where the homeowner says, “I don’t like my floor, can you tell me what’s wrong with it?”

When I am asked to inspect a wood floor, I typically try to determine the specific reason for the inspection over the phone so I have a better idea of what I need to prepare for. The truth is, I could find something wrong with just about any wood floor I inspect. This is why I need direction when preparing for an inspection.

For example, if someone tells me they have excessive movement, excessive noise, or gaps in their wood floor that do not close during high humidity seasons, I am able to prepare my tool bag for investigating these types of claims. One tool I know I will bring with me is my rare earth magnets (spherical in shape) and my cloth measuring tape (to avoid magnetic attraction to a steel tape measure).

In that same interview, I ask the commissioning party what specific flooring product (brand, style, name…) I will be inspecting so that I can pull up their installation instructions online, and prepare for any specific details pertinent to the product (such as recommended installation methods, subfloor requirements, environmental requirements…).

Once I am equipped with this information, I will be able to determine the fastener schedule, whether any adhesive (chemical fastener) was used along with the mechanical fasteners, or if the floor was full-spread adhesive system. I will also need to determine If the contractor may have used the “glue assist” method where the amount of fasteners used would be similar to as if there was no adhesive used. However, if the contractor installed the wood floor using the fastener assist (full spread adhesive), the magnet test would have dramatically different results.

Knowing all of this up front will either eliminate several factors, or it will shine a light on other scenarios I may need to focus on when I get to the inspection.

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