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3 Tips: Prevent Damage to Your Luxury Vinyl Floor


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Ken's Quick Answer:

With 70+ years of flooring experience between them, Ken sits down with his long-time friend Bill Houle. Bill is currently an expert flooring inspector who sees improper installations and misuse on a daily basis.

The takeaway? Choose a reputable retailer who will:
1.) Help you choose the right product
2.) Flawlessly execute the installation
3.) Tell you how to care of your new floor


What Types of Installations Do You Inspect?

Ken Fain - Owner, Island Carpet: Today, I am joined by my friend of 30 years, Bill Houle. He's been an installer, he's been in retail and in distribution. He's even worked with manufacturers. I know very few people with as much experience and flooring wisdom as Bill. Lately, he's been making a career out of professionally inspecting floors when people report problems. Welcome, Bill! What kinds of flooring installations are you called upon to inspect?

Bill Houle - Professional Flooring Inspector: I inspect retail installations in new construction. The majority of the installations are now luxury vinyl plank. That's 80% of my inspections. Much more than wood.

What Problems Are Most Commonly Found?

Ken Fain: What are the problems most commonly found?

Bill Houle: Cupping and damage to the edge.

Ken: Is it mainly due to the installer or to the circumstances of the house? How often is it a problem with the product?

Bill: Very rarely is it a problem with the product. And even if it's a problem with the job site—the slab not being flat, for instance—that falls back to the installer. It's ultimately his responsibility to verify that the flatness meets the manufacturer's specifications before installation. Most of the problems that you see, it's because the slab isn't flat enough. Deflection along the locking system found in luxury vinyl plank will cause it to loosen up. Then that's where you get gapping.

Ken : How perfect does the substrate have to be to avoid that?

Bill: Most manufacturers allow for a difference of 3/16" within a 10-foot radius. That's not just in one direction—it's all directions. Obviously, 3/16" within 10 feet is not much.

Is Laminate Better Able to Prevent These Problems?

Ken Fain: With laminate coming back, one of the advantages that people are talking about is the solidity and weight of the product may keep those butt ends together better.

Bill Houle: It's a valid argument. In a luxury vinyl plank floor, your heaviest cores are going to be about 6 to 7 millimeters. On the other hand, your base laminate is going to have an 8 millimeter HDF. Plus, the majority of your laminate is going to be 14 millimeter HDF. Overall, that means you'll get a much stronger lock.

What Else Should Customers Keep in Mind?

Bill Houle: Choose a reputable retailer. [Laughs] That's the best thing I can say. The retailer has a responsibility to inform them on how to care for their floor when they purchase it. Because in all honesty, you can look on the internet for one thing and you'll get five answers. It's just somebody with a keyboard. Trust the retailers, choose the right products, and don't wet mop your hardwood floors.

Ken Fain: Right, we've talked about that.

Bill: Otherwise, there's not much to say because every floor has an application. Do I like hardwood flooring? Yes. Would I put it in a room with four dogs? No.

Wrap Up

Ken Fain: What I'm getting from you is that most of the products you choose from a reputable retailer have structural integrity. We don't see a lot of defective products. Instead, we see a lot of misuse.

Bill Houle: It's misuse or improper installation. So many times, things get overlooked that were right there in black and white. And, it's not rocket science. We say that all the time. It's not rocket science, it's flooring.

Ken: That's such an important point. Thanks to Bill Houle, who's a professional flooring inspector and someone who has had years of experience in the industry.

If you have any questions about luxury vinyl floors or flooring installations in general, give us a call at 401-214-0285 or visit our showroom. We serve customers throughout Rhode Island and southeastern New England, including Newport, Middletown, Jamestown, Portsmouth, Bristol and more.

Ken Fain smiling and wearing a green and yellow collared shirt

About Ken: Ken Fain is the co-owner of Island Carpet in Middletown, RI and a floorcovering veteran of more than 40 years. His popular 'Ask Ken' video series answers common flooring questions on a variety of topics. It has reached more than 100,000 viewers on both YouTube and Facebook.


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