The Problem

I was called to inspect a prefinished engineered floor because of scratches on the floor, missing finish and "lines in the planks."

What Happened

More than 2,000 square feet of the 6-inch-wide hand-scraped birch flooring was glued down over a slab subfloor in a new single-family home in Florida about four years ago. It was installed in the living room, kitchen, halls, laundry room and bedrooms. Immediately after the flooring was installed, the homeowners began to notice scratches; they got worse over the years. They also noticed areas with missing finish and "lines in the planks."

The Inspection

There were three adults and two large dogs living in the home. I found that throughout the entire installation, the floor had scratches of numerous sizes and shapes. Some of the scratches went through the finish.

In the area of the stove, there were some discolored spots on the wood that felt smooth. There were also several spots that were a buildup of soil and other contaminants; they had a greasy feel.

In front of the kitchen sink there were watermarks from spills and a white line running along one edge where the finish was gone. In the laundry room, there were bleach-like spots in front of the laundry machine.

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The majority of the movable furniture had some type of protection on the legs of the furniture. No rugs were in use. All moisture levels were within normal ranges, and the home was climate-controlled in recommended ranges, as well.

The majority of the scratches observed were due to the dogs running across the floor. The finish issues at the stove and sink areas appeared to be due to water spills and contaminants, and the one board that was missing finish appeared to be due to excessive wear, moisture and aggravated cleaning. The "lines in the planks" the consumer found objectionable were simply the style of the hand-scraped wood.

How to Fix the Floor

Due to the severity of the damage to the floor and the difficulty in trying to resand a hand-scraped floor with a limited wear layer, this flooring needs to be replaced.

In the Future

Large dogs running through the house will scratch any finish, although choosing a lighter-colored floor can make white lines from scratches in the factory-finished coating less noticeable. Keeping dogs' nails trimmed short and using area rugs in high-traffic areas can help minimize damage.

Ron Gould is president/CEO at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Inspect Solutions.