I've been in my apartment for four years, and have some damage to the engineered hardwood floors. I'm trying to determine if the damage constitutes regular wear and tear, and the floors are just really cheap, or if I was too hard on them and it's my fault.

There are a variety of chips along the seams, that weren't caused by me dropping anything. There's also a highly worn spot where I had a plastic mat that my computer chair was on (the plastic was supposed to protect the floor...).

From some other questions I've asked, the deciding factor would be the grade of the hardwood floor, and the thickness of the veneer. Hopefully something can tell me based on these images what the grade/thickness is, or if this looks like regular usage patterns:


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  • Moisture from underneath? What’s underneath? What’s the construction of the building? What floor are you on. What climate? Looks like something I saw in a “loft” that had previously been a warehouse. The engineered floor was laid directly on unsealed concrete.
    – Tyson
    Jul 14, 2018 at 12:46
  • @Tyson it's directly on a concrete floor on the third floor of the building. The concrete floor is heated if that matters. I live in Canada, so the climate is very cold and damp in the winter. Jul 14, 2018 at 13:18
  • @isherwood is there a way for me to tell if its laminate flooring vs engineered hardwood? Jul 14, 2018 at 13:21
  • Isherwood is probably more in target than I am, or it might be some of both, I’ve said about what I know tho, moisture from below is bad.
    – Tyson
    Jul 14, 2018 at 13:38
  • As noted by others, this is cheap laminate. Having said that, though, the pics might be consistent with moisture from above that wasn't wiped up immediately. Jul 14, 2018 at 15:26

2 Answers 2


That floor appears to be of phenomenally low quality, and I have doubts that it's even actual hardwood. I would have expected the broken out pieces of veneer to leave a more fibrous edge. From the shape and coloration it appears synthetic.

Do you see how the edges of the top layer show white near the missing areas? Wood doesn't do that. That's what shows when the printed laminate wears away. I'm 99% sure there's no wood in this product besides the particle board. Tyson's suggestion about moisture would explain the decomposition at the edges due to swelling.

Your question isn't really answerable as we don't have all the facts, and it's partly a matter of opinion. I can only say this with certainty: Real wood doesn't look like that, and even inexpensive laminate shouldn't be disintegrating without extreme traffic volume or moisture damage.


That is not “normal” wear and tear.

That chipping is caused by movement between the boards. This movement can be caused by 1) moisture, 2) bad joint manufacturing.

1) Moisture coming from ABOVE the floor (caused by spilling water) would be localized. That is to say, it would be on every board in a 1’ or 2’ diameter area. This problem seems to be throughout the room.

Moisture coming from BELOW would affect all the boards in an area...possibly the entire room.

2) I think a more likely cause is poor manufacturing of the tongue and groove joint. I suspect the boards are T&G and the tongue was milled slightly too thin. That allows the board to move up and down when stepped on. It would be interesting to see if the chipping occurred in a pattern: the walking path within the room. If so, that would prove my “guess”.

BTW, the second picture shows poor manufacturing of end-to-end joints, which reinforces my notion that this flooring is of low quality and the tongue and groove are probably not manufactured properly.

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