The Issue

The homeowners said their prefinished engineered walnut floor's UV acrylic finish was peeling in several locations two months after installation. The retailer came out to look at the floor and found the floor finish was, indeed, beginning to peel. The retailer also noted the homeowner had a 45-pound dog and there were a couple of indentations in the wood where the finish was peeling off. The retailer reported his findings to the manufacturer, and the manufacturer denied the claim. The homeowner was unsatisfied with the denial letter and contacted a certified wood floor inspector.

Roy: The Inspection

The floor had slight indentations that appeared to be from dog nails. In these locations there was some finish peeling, but only on the top finish layer of the floor. Upon closer examination, one could clearly see the finish base coat was dented, as well, but was not fractured. Pressure-sensitive tape was applied to the floor and, once removed, one could clearly see the gloss base coat. Because finish adhesion failure was also observed outside the dented areas, I concluded the finish adhesion failure was confined to only the topcoat and was not directly related to the dog nail indentations. The manufacturer's warranty states that the floor finish will not wear through or peel off of the hardwood flooring during the 25-year warranty period.

Blake: The Attorney's Analysis

Other damage to a product does not necessarily void a manufacturer's warranty if the product itself was defective from the start. While in this scenario perhaps the dog contributed to the floor damage, it does not change the fact that an adhesion failure exists. For example, if defective siding were hit with a hail storm on the north side of a home, it would not excuse the manufacturer from replacing the defective product on the other sides. In this case, the dog has caused damage to certain areas of the floor, but if there is a problem with the floor finish besides the dog nail damage, then the manufacturer must replace the product. While some manufacturers will pay for the labor to remove and replace the product, if the manufacturer's warranty excludes responsibility for the labor, the cost will need to be sorted out between the contractor, retailer and homeowner.

See more on this topic: Factory-Finished Wood Flooring

Blake R. Nelson is a construction-law attorney with Hellmuth & Johnson PLLC in Minneapolis. He can be reached at Roy Reichow is president at National Wood Flooring Consultants Inc. and an NWFACP-certified inspector. Read his WFB Inspector Blog at