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We are building a home. We selected a solid pine floor which comes prefinished. It has tongue-and-groove on the sides, but not the ends. The builder & installer did NOT cut the ends of the boards to ensure tight square butt joints, so we have a large number of but joints with out-of-square gaps. See photos.

The builder and installer said that the supplier (a third generation outfit in GA) told them they shouldn't cut the ends in order to preserve the finished ends of the boards. When I spoke with the supplier he said "I told them no such thing! They should have cut them and then used the can of finish that came with the wood to finish the cut edge." That is what makes sense to me. The builder's story doesn't make a lick of sense except that they were trying to get the work done fast and cheap.

What are the acceptable standards for installation of solid pine flooring?

Thanks much!
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  • Did you ask for a "rustic barn floor look"? Unless you specifically asked for a turn of the century inspired floor, that looks unacceptable. What is the last image? A transition or threshold?
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 11, 2021 at 19:02
  • It does seem like it should been done better, since I imagine they the tools to do a good job. My opinion only since they might have trying for rustic look.
    – crip659
    Nov 11, 2021 at 19:03
  • @JPhi1618, to answer your first question, we definitely did not request a rustic barn floor look. And yes the last image is a transition from living room to tiled kitchen.
    – 208_man
    Nov 11, 2021 at 19:18
  • Also, builder said if the floor were sanded and refinished, one could fill the gaps with some kind of filller. Apart from the high cost of that solution, everything we've heard is that filler won't stain the same color and is notorious for popping out.
    – 208_man
    Nov 11, 2021 at 19:22
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    This is mainly a problem between the builder/installer and yourself. Would send the suppler these and more pictures of the floor and see what they say, but butt joints should be an easy cut to make and look right. This might be question for the law se sister site.
    – crip659
    Nov 11, 2021 at 20:46

4 Answers 4

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What you show is not acceptable. Without seeing the overall floor I couldn't say whether the whole job is unacceptable or just those few spots. It looks to me like his miter saw is off by a degree or a half. Some of the gaps along the long edge could be from the floor boards not being a uniform width but if that's the case you generally use those where it's not noticeable.

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  • Op stated that no cuts were made. The contractor should have squared each end with a mitre saw
    – Kris
    Nov 11, 2021 at 22:06
  • @platinum-goose, I have shown photos of some of the worst joints. There are plenty of joints that are square and fairly 'tight'. I'd guess that about 60% are good, 25% are just ok, 10% are not good, and 5% are awful. I've shown a mix of the not good and the awful.
    – 208_man
    Nov 11, 2021 at 22:54
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I've never seen flooring like this installed without mitering the edges. Filling in those gaps with a wood filler and refinishing would look terrible. Tongue and grove is done for a tight fit and ensures a tight butt joint but the ends have to be cut. This is definitely unacceptable and you should be getting back with the installer,

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  • You've never seen pine without beveled edges? Ever been in any cabin, ever? :)
    – isherwood
    Nov 11, 2021 at 23:51
  • @isherwood I've seen beveled but not lousy end cuts... not many cabins down here.. they don't like the humidity.. :-)
    – JACK
    Nov 12, 2021 at 0:28
  • The pre-finished engineered hardwood floors I installed did not have to have their ends cut. They were true from the factory. The only cutting that was needed was at the ends of the runs.
    – SteveSh
    Nov 12, 2021 at 0:47
  • @SteveSh The engineered hardwood floors are different from what the OP has. Yes, they are true from the factory and easy to install.
    – JACK
    Nov 12, 2021 at 2:14
  • @isherwood I'd guess the OP is looking for a better grade of finish than a log cabin. Not into their pioneer-frontier cosplay. :)
    – Graham
    Nov 12, 2021 at 9:47
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The agency that controls grades, tolerances, installation requirements, etc. is the MFMA, which started with maple flooring, but has beached out to include many species and grades. See below:

https://www.maplefloor.org/MFMAMainSite/media/Technical-Literature/MFMA-Resid-Broch-FINAL.pdf

This installation is not acceptable for most exposed flooring installations. (Maybe okay for closets, etc.).

There is nothing in the Code that requires specific tolerances for wood flooring. If you did not establish tolerances or installation requirements before work started, it will be difficult to reject the installation now that it’s complete. Did you say “like my neighbors house “? Or like the display at the local flooring store? If so, you could ask for it to be repaired.

Did the wood come pre-cut, with installation instructions, etc.? If so, you could show that it is not installed properly.

Installation instructions would also require the wood be acclimated and for how long, etc. If the boards were not acclimated then your worst problems are ahead of you.

Edit:

Contractors are required to be licensed. If he is not licensed where you live (call the local building code department) then you do not have to pay him. If he is, you could contact the local contractors license agency and ask their advice. They have committees that review problems like this and help resolve these issues. (Here it’s called the Builder’s Board.)

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  • thanks for posting. We ordered the product from a website (www.vintagepineflooring.com) which shows lovely photos of installs. We ordered in a sample. We had the builder look at both the site and the sample and asked if he thought this was a good product. We expected it to be tight and square. Yes it was precut. With 5 mos of build delays, the product was stored in builder's shop. I do know it had acclimation instructions, which were not followed. Though we live in a desert so that might help.
    – 208_man
    Nov 11, 2021 at 22:57
  • Depending on where the product was manufactured, the desert environment might cause the lumber to dry out more than normal over time (2 years) causing it to twist, bend, shrink, etc. more than normal.
    – Lee Sam
    Nov 11, 2021 at 23:03
  • @lee_sam thank you. Hopefully not since it was kiln dried to a pretty low moisture level. But that could well be. We intend to install a humidifier in the HVAC to keep a stable moisture level.
    – 208_man
    Nov 11, 2021 at 23:09
  • Thanks for the tip about the local contractors license agency.
    – 208_man
    Nov 11, 2021 at 23:10
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When I spoke with the supplier he said "I told them no such thing! They should have cut them and then used the can of finish that came with the wood to finish the cut edge."

Not sure what else there is to discuss.

There's no such thing as a home improvement police so you need to fight this with the builder yourself.

If you can get the supplier to repeat their words in writing, such as email, then that would be good to have.

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  • Thanks. It's new construction so the money question is between us an our builder.
    – 208_man
    Nov 12, 2021 at 14:42
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    @208_man No problem, I wish you the best. That threshold is hot steaming poo by the way; just like the builder's and installer's demeanor. The installer definitely "cut corners"; err, lack thereof in this case?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Nov 12, 2021 at 14:45

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