[Resolved] Empire Today — hardwood floor installation
In December 2008, I purchased engineered hardwood flooring from Empire for the living room and master bedroom of my condo. The installation occurred on January 21, 2009. The installation took two days and was very unprofessional. My problems fell into the following categories:
1. The installers got glue all over the place. They had glue on their hands when they moved my furniture. They got glue all over the living room walls. And, they left glue smudges over 80% of the living room and bedroom flooring. The adhesive used to apply engineered hardwood is very strong and must be cleaned immediately. If allowed to cure more than 24 hours, it is virtually impossible to remove. Consequently, I had to repaint my living room walls and had no means of removing the glue from my furniture. I also had a new floor that looked dull because of all the glue smudges.
2. The installers also did not screen the wood quality. The industry standard states that 5% of the wood in each box may be of lower quality. The installers are supposed to screen each piece of wood to remove the lower quality planks before installing. In the living room alone, they installed over 30 boards with blue stain, which is caused by a fungus that turns the wood a bluish gray. Most of these problems were so obvious that any amount of screening should have omitted that wood. I also question whether there was more than 5% bad wood in my boxes.
3. The wood in the master bedroom also had problems with knot holes beyond what is acceptable for grade A wood. The installers also installed some of the baseboard trim upside down (something I didn't know until another professional pointed it out).
To Empire's credit, when I complained about the problem, they quickly offered to replace the floor and to use another installer. I accepted the offer to replace the living room floor, which was by far the worst of the two rooms. The second installers did a much better job, but of course they knew about my complaints with the first installation. The removal of the first floor, however, was hell. They had to saw across the wood down to the concrete subfloor, pry it off, and chisel off the old glue. This required two days of constant pounding and generated a ton of dust. I am sure my condo neighbors despise me.
Because of the hell of replacing the living room floor, I elected not to replace the bedroom floor too. Instead, I asked Empire for a 15% credit on the entire installation price to cover the lower quality bedroom installation and to compensate me for the damage to my walls and furniture. They initially refused, until I sent them an extensive photo album of all the problems. Empire then agreed to the refund, if I would sign a release of any further claims against them associated with this job. I agreed. However, it took over two weeks of phone calls and constant badgering before Empire actually issued the credit to my credit card. But for this final hassle of getting the credit, I would at least have given Empire high marks for its customer service, despite the poor quality of the product and installation.
The lesson that I have taken from all of this is that the national flooring brands have much less quality control. Whether or not you get a good contractor to install your floor is a crap shoot. I would recommend that anyone considering any kind of floor installation use someone local.
The complaint has been investigated and resolved to the customer's satisfaction.
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