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TOPIC: Finish issues with new solid "Brazillian Chestnut" (Cumaru?)

Finish issues with new solid "Brazillian Chestnut" (Cumaru?) 12 Nov 2020 09:52 #20944

Looking for information (links to industry articles would be great if you have them saved somewhere) to use as ammunition in a dispute with our builder.

We bought a spec new construction house in Wisconsin recently. The builder had solid Bellawood "Brazilian Chestnut" installed. After closing during the move-in process it was noticed that the finish was starting to bubble in spots along the grain.

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The builder was super helpful until the manufacturer declared it as moisture issues and not covered by the manufacturer warranty. He's claimed that it was fine when he cleaned it right before closing so it "must have been something you did".

Here's what we've been able to figure out:
  • The floor was most likely installed in the middle of the Wisconsin winter.
  • We don't know yet how long the floor was allowed to acclimate.
  • We don't know what the RH% of the house was during that period
  • The issue didn't start showing until the beginning of July when we had our first big hot and humid weather
  • The floor does not have the 3/4" gap recommended by the manufacture around the outside as the baseboard is only 3/4"

We've consulted a friend of a builder friend who has 40 years flooring industry experience and he's of the opinion that nothing we did caused the issue. He also stated that the floor is likely Cumaru which is known for having moisture issues. He listed a dozen things that he and the contacts he consulted thought could have caused it, most on the installer and none on us. The top was not enough acclimation and improper humidity levels at installation.

As the floor has dried approaching winter we're seeing gaps and ridges. I bought relative humidity meters and the current air humidity level has stayed between 40-60% since I got them. We're currently in the upper 40% range, but I expect that we'll have to run a humidifier in the winter to keep it over 40%.

My wife wants to ask the builder to replace the floor with something more suited to the climate like a pre-finished hard maple. Her position is this is not our issue and the builder needs to hash it between himself, the installer, and the manufacturer. The other option we see is refinishing the floor if the floor is now considered "stable" enough. We're looking for ammunition to go back to him, trying to avoid spending the money on a professional inspector but are willing to go that route and to court if necessary.
Last Edit: 12 Nov 2020 10:06 by ldmoretti. Reason: Fixing image URL

Finish issues with new solid "Brazillian Chestnut" (Cumaru?) 27 Jan 2021 09:16 #20993

  • Daniels
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Bellawood is notorious for issues with their exotic flooring. We got really burned on an installation of Bellawood Teak. There are loads of complaints online. Go with premium quality floor from a reputable flooring retailer, not a big box, liquidator, discounter, outlet or other clearance center that emphasises low pricing.

Finish issues with new solid "Brazillian Chestnut" (Cumaru?) 31 Jan 2021 18:41 #20996

  • rfyfe
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If that pre-finished floor was installed and those problems began to occur after it was installed I can’t see how the installer is responsible for a factory finish failure.. The builder bought the wood. The builder sold you the house. The manufacturer IMO sold a bad product and the builder should be responsible as well.

Finish issues with new solid "Brazillian Chestnut" (Cumaru?) 17 Feb 2021 13:08 #21012

  • JohannesB
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You don't have much choice but to hire a reputable NWFA certified inspector I would say!

First you say it was a new spec home. I assume that means "just build".
In that case the house still may have had a lot of fresh concrete in the basement which the evaporating moisture was still evaporating IN THE HOUSE environment. If the new floor was acclimated to those conditions you already have a problem.
That may explain why you now are starting to see gapping. It may not be too bad as it is normal and to be expected that wood shrinks a bit during the low RH of the winter months, specially in WI! It all depends how much shrinkage you experience.

The "bubbling" is an intercoat-adhesion related issue that goes back to the time the flooring was prefinished at the finishing plant and has nothing to do with the RH levels. RH causes movement in the board, which is normal, if the intercoat adhesion is good the finish should be able to handle that. If it pops loose as seems to happen the intercoat adhesion may not be as good as it should have been. That condition can be tested though.

A good inspector will be able to find out what is going on and what the cause is.

Good Luck!
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