Lowe's Complaint - Cloudy Film/Dirty Engineered Hardwood Floors Installed By Lowe's
Resolution Update on 09/12/2008:
Lowe's has finally replaced this floor, at no extra charge for me. Yay! We are satisfied with the new floor, which is not manufactured wood - it is a glue-down real wood floor.
MINNEOLA, FLORIDA -- We had these floors installed Nov 2007. I noticed the first day that some boards appeared dirty. I thought it would go away or that the glue was still wet on some boards. I called for some follow up - minor issues of a nail which kept coming up and a gap between the quarter-round and the trim, etc. and when the installer came I showed him the dirty looking boards and asked him if some glue got on top of some boards by accident. He said sometimes they come dirty in the box and I need to go to Lowe's and buy their special floor cleaner which he said was $15 a bottle. I don't mind cleaning my floors when I get them dirty but I thought this was ridiculous. He didn't name the product so even if I want to buy it now, I don't know what it is.
First I tried cleaning them with water. Could not get it off. I tried Method hard wood floor cleaner since it is very gentle and non-toxic (we have 2 babies). No dice. Afraid to put anything harsh on the floor, I called for a second follow-up visit and this time the installer did not return my call.
I followed up directly with Lowe's again by taking photographs to their store. It's hard to get a good picture because the flash washes out the filmy look but I think I took some pretty good ones, including one dated 6 days after the floor was installed! (I sent them to this site to have them attached to my complaint). Two reps visited (one a manager) and both agreed that certain boards sure did look cloudy-filmy-dirty while others were clean and shiny. I pointed out that the cloudy film is even in spots we don't walk such as under the couch and the carpet. They said this looks like a defect in the product (Mohawk) and an independent 'flooring specialist' would visit. He came the next day. He was in my home less than 3 minutes. He asked me no questions but took pictures.
I offered the information about the cleaners I had tried. By now the floors are 6 months old. I told him I have cleaned them 6 times: once with water and 5 times with Method; 3 times on my hands and knees with a cotton cloth and 3 times with a sponge mop. I even had a professional cleaning lady come and try to clean this up! Yesterday I got a letter from Lowes stating the flooring specialist decided that the problem with the floor is "buildup of cleaning products on certain spots on the floor". He stated he could see mop marks on the floor and that when he wiped the floor with a white cloth, some black came onto his cloth. Hello?! I mopped 10 minutes before he got there to get the babies' fingerprints off the floor. Of course he could see mop smudges. I am not complaining about mop smudges.
Of course he still got dirt on his cloth when he wiped the floor - does anyone with 2 kids not have dirt on their floor even after mopping? We live here - it is not pristine even after mopping. NO he did not move any furniture or the carpet to see the dirty boards where I have never mopped. NO he did not ask when the problem started - i.e. before I had ever mopped the floor with even water. How does he explain that the marks were there on day 6 when I had not even dry mopped it yet? He marked down incorrectly that we have no pets when we do (again, he asked no questions). If he guessed that incorrectly, I think we can safely assume he made up everything else he wrote too. I don't know if he's inept or just calling me a liar. I have many witnesses who saw the new floor, including my neighbor, who works at Lowe's.
I asked this neighbor if the floors looked normal and when he said no, that is what led me to call Lowe's back in the first place. What next? Do I just eat the $5500 we spent on this floor? I hate that it always looks dirty and I'm very angry. I advise never purchasing anything from Lowe's. We were considering some kitchen upgrades but we won't be going to Lowe's.
Update: 6/3/08 - I phoned Lowe's to follow up on the ridiculous report from the "3rd party floor specialist". I give them credit for calling back because they know I must have been angry after reading his report. They provided a bottle of their special cleaner, "Bruce Hardwood Floor Cleaner" and a special mop. The mop handle broke off with the first stroke, so I can't recommend that. The cleaner left the floor clean and shiny - no fingerprints. Unfortunately, the cloudy look remains on certain boards - absolutely no change in its condition. Their rep said he doesn't know what to do next but will research and will call me back.
Update 6/27/08 - A second independent flooring specialist was sent by Lowe's. This man seemed very informed and reasonable. He explained that they have mixed boards from two different lots into my floor, which has caused some to appear shiny, and some less shiny, which leads to the "clean" look on some boards and "dirty" look on others. He stated at a minimum he will recommend that Lowe's pull up one or the other and replace so that all boards match. He stated he will advise them it will be easier to pull up the entire floor because the dull boards are peppered everywhere - not like they opened and used one box & moved on to the next. SOOOO, since we will be pulling up the entire floor anyway... I asked him about a second problem with the floor (a commenting person also mentioned this), it shows every fingerprint and footprint. Once mopped, it looks clean until someone walks on it. I asked if I should pick something else. We were shown several kinds of floors by Lowes and picked this because it matched our cabinets. It also stood out because it was the one non-glossy sample. The other samples were much shinier - obviously a different finish. I asked if a glossy finish would hide the fingerprints/footprints better. He answered, "all laminate flooring pretty much does that." What? What Laminate Flooring? Did I hear him right? My husband asked if we should have it refinished and he answered, "you can't refinish this." We were told by Lowe's that there are 3 levels of floors, Laminate (fake wood, the linoleum of the wood family), Engineered hardwood (real wood which can be refinished up to 3 times, constructed in layers to allow for expansion) and solid hardwood (which you can't install in Florida because it doesn't allow for expansion with humidity and because there is no subfloor to nail the boards to). We checked our invoices/receipts and they say "engineered hardwood" all over them. So after he left my husband got on the phone with Lowe's, and we're now trying to find out if they even installed the right thing. $5500 for one room (laminate, no less) and look what I am dealing with, still. Have I said it enough? - - - WE HATE THESE FLOORS!
Update 7/18/08 - Lowe's is giving us a credit for the materials and allowing us to choose a different floor. We may have to pay the difference for the materials, but that is OK - we will do what it takes, within reason, to get rid of these awful floors. We are looking at a Bruce Hardwood glue-down floor. I'm off to read the My3Cents reviews of Bruce floors. Yay!
Update 8/14/08 - replacement floors backordered until 9/20/08.