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I've bought 4 packs of engineered floor boards, made of a multi-ply core.

Today I've received the floorboards, and in one pack, one board had mould on the 'back' side. See picture below (the picture shows the entirely of the area on which mould has grown).

Questions

  1. Is it a good idea for me to install that mouldy board as part of the new floor?

  2. Is it a good idea for me to install the other boards which were in the same pack as the mouldy board? (including the one which was directly in contact with the mouldy area).

  3. What would you do?

More details

  • That board was in a pack of 6 boards. None of the other 5 boards show any sign of mould.

  • I've sprayed some white vinegar and sanded the mouldy area. That removed most of the mould, but not all of it.

  • I want to install the floorboards on a chipboard subfloor, with an 3.5mm underlayment (https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00CL9EI0G/) between the subfloor and the floor boards.

  • We're scheduled to install the new floor in 5 days time.

  • I'm mildly allergic to mould.

enter image description here

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    Besides using vinegar or bleach to kill the mould, would contact the company/store and let them know what you found. Don't ask for anything, just what you found, what the company does after, might want to give them good PR, or not. Wiping down the other boards with vinegar/bleach will not hurt.
    – crip659
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 20:26
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    Can you contact the supplier/store and ask about a return of either the one pack, or the whole lot and swap it for any other brand. I'd worry that the others might exhibit similar problems in the future, and its a lot easier to change now instead of after installation.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 7:42
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    Please don't use obfuscated URLs. People tend to not like clicking random links that will take them who knows where...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 12:01
  • Did your purchase include overage? This would be the last piece I install, and maybe it could be cut such that the moldy section is not even used.
    – gns100
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 17:43
  • #3, what I would do: save that one for last if I needed it, then get back to work. What do you think the bunk of lumber that your house was made out of that sat under a tarp in the rain for three years looked like before they put it in?
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 5:44

3 Answers 3

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Contact the seller to see what can be done with your time line in mind.

If you cannot get replacement before some hard installation deadline, remediating what you have is certainly possible: use the good boards of the package, take pictures, and try to get a discount without returning. Sometimes you may have left overs anyway, and you could save the bad board(s) for last. This save you time and hassle.

Using good boards in a bad package, or cleaning the product a bit is usually not a problem.

Mould is not a virus. If you can remove it and treat the wood like you did, mechanically and chemically, you have very likely brought the concentration down to an acceptable level, and stopped it from growing rapidly.

Do inspect the affected piece for mold penetration, as this may cause a degradation of the wood, thus making it more susceptible to mechanical failure. Mold may also be on the surface only, and just affect surface texture. That then is a matter of aesthetics.

There are spores of all kinds in the air. These are stopped from growing and concentrating by proper moisture management throughout the house.

My initial impression from the question was that due to the order & install time line, you were exploring the idea of using what you have and not returning the order. If I find mold in a box, or any other imperfection, I too would return it before installation. If returns are problematic for the installation (re-order time, driving distance etc...) I would contact the seller up front, and try to use as much as I could until a return can be arranged.

But I have on more than one occasion cleaned up grime, dust, and surface mold, and used what was delivered because the cost and effort to return were too great. Sometimes I install old & dusty stock, and that always gets a good wipe & clean precisely to avoid accumulation or spread of mold.

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    You are correct that mold is not a virus, but it generates spores. This means that seemingly dead, inactive mold has a very high chance of recovering should the correct conditions present themselves. Killing mold generally is easier than killing mold spores, which can still be viable for years (and have hard casings resistant to nearly everything, including many more remediation products). Since you are allergic, and the underlayment is water proof, I'd return the product. A good water spill will seep between the underlay and the flooring, giving the embedded spores a fighting chance.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 16:13
  • @EdwinBuck that's a good comment, and I suggest you post it as an answer, not a comment. Personally I believe OP's remediation was sufficient for the type of board. This site benefits from opposing opinions that are voted and debated in the ensuing comments under multiple answers.
    – P2000
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 16:19
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Contact the seller and tell them about the problem. They should send you a new package and take back the mouldy one.

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    This is the correct answer. It was a defective product, so just return it. Don't spend any more time trying or money to fix it. This is the seller's problem, not the buyers. Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 21:11
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You are correct that mold is not a virus, but it generates spores. This means that seemingly dead, inactive mold has a very high chance of recovering should the correct conditions present themselves.

Killing mold generally is easier than killing mold spores, which can still be viable for years (and have hard casings resistant to nearly everything, including many of the remediation products). Since you are allergic, and the underlayment is water proof, I'd return the product. A good water spill will seep between the underlay and the flooring, giving the embedded spores a fighting chance.

Now, just to have the chance of reactivating the mold, it requires you to install the flooring, and a have a rather large water spill, the kind that gets under the flooring between the underlayment and the flooring, and that spill to provide the environment to activate the a spore that hasn't been killed. If you feel that such a thing would never happen, then your remediation is enough.

I live in a place where flooding happens infrequently, but every seven or so years there is a flooding incident (heavy rains, hurricane, flash flooding.) that almost-randomly impacts some of my city. I would never install this flooring, because I know that there is a good chance that I'll be pulling it up in five to twenty years, and I'd rather just deal with the damage caused by the flooding and not deal with flooding damage and a guaranteed mold problem.

Treated wood that is relatively certain to be in a dry, non-friendly environment to mold is safe; but, in places where mold is likely to grow, I wouldn't intentionally install any mold-treated wood. It is only a little more hassle to source and install mold-free stuff.

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