How to Void Your Hard Surface Flooring Warranty
A flooring warranty won’t cover everything
Hard surface flooring like hardwood, Luxury Vinyl plank (LVP), and laminate can add a dazzling luster to any home. Floors this beautiful deserve to be protected, which is why manufacturers offer flooring warranties as a way to help keep your floors protected and maintain their beauty for years to come.
However, flooring warranties have a bit of a history of being misunderstood. Many homeowners mistake their flooring warranties for some kind of magic shield, giving them 100% immunity and protection from anything that happens to their floors. “Oh, don’t worry, the warranty will cover that!” and a wave of the hands is an easy defense that homeowners will pull out for every scuff, scratch, or mishap that happens on your floors. That’s what the warranty is there for, right?
The truth is that hardwood, laminate, and vinyl warranties don’t cover everything. Flooring warranties typically cover only very particular issues and damages. Everything that falls under the warranty is subject to be repaired or replaced. Everything else… well, you are on your own to get taken care of.
Knowing what your hard surface flooring warranty covers, and more importantly doesn’t cover, is important information to understand that may save you the heartbreak of unexpected repair and replacement charges and also give you a better idea of what kind of things will make you run the risk of voiding your warranty if you aren’t careful.
What does hard surface flooring warranty normally cover?
First and foremost: every different style of flooring from hardwood to vinyl is eligible for different kinds of warranties depending on its style, its specifications, and who the manufacturer is (like Shaw, Mohawk, Mannington, and so on). Every manufacturer’s warranties are different, so be sure to check with the manufacturer for details.
However, no matter who the manufacturer is or what the floors are, there are generally two kinds of flooring warranties that are standard for hard surface flooring: structural warranty and finish warranty. These warranties will protect and cover issues with your floors for the period of time that the warranty is valid.
As you might imagine, structural warranty protects you from issues or defects related to the structure of your hard surface flooring. This covers everything from floors cupping, warping, buckling, delamination, and other specified damages. In the event any of this kind of damage occurs, the manufacturer will be responsible for replacing the damaged flooring.
However, there is a catch – as there always seems to be, right? Structural warranty is accompanied with small, seemingly innocuous language that makes all the difference: “if properly installed and maintained.” This means that structural warranty is only valid as long as it is installed and cared for to the manufacturer’s specifications. Not meeting these specifications is where flooring warranties are often voided, but we will get into those more in just a little bit.
Finish warranty is a flooring warranty that specifically covers the finish and condition of the floor. In the case of hardwood flooring, a finish warranty provides a protection guarantee against wearing down and exposing the bare wood beneath the hardwood finish. This may also apply to covering the finish layer separating from the plank as well. In this case, you’ll notice that little bit of language comes up again: “if properly installed and maintained.”
Common ways to void a flooring warranty
Now that we have established what your warranty likely covers, lets focus on the real issue: what things will void your flooring warranty. If you’ve been paying attention, you can probably guess that the biggest causes of flooring warranties becoming voided has to do with that little clause that keeps popping up: “if properly installed and maintained.”
While there are any number of ways your warranty can become void, here are some of the most common instances we here at Tish Flooring run into when dealing with customers and their situations.
In order for hard surface flooring to be “properly installed” by the manufacturer specifications, a few requirements must be met. The biggest of these being that the subfloor that is being installed on is even, flat, and any damages have been repaired. When it comes to hard surface flooring, uneven or damaged subflooring can eventually cause planks and tiles to break, warp, or buckle. Since that damage is caused by an outside source and not a fault in the design of the plank, these issues normally covered by the structural warranty will not be honored.
The solution is to make sure right up front that your subfloor has been inspected and any flooring corrections that need to be made have been made before you get to installation.
Manufacturers also have very specific instructions as to how their hard surface flooring should be installed, which is another consideration of the “properly installed” language. If your floors were not installed to the manufacturer’s instructions and it becomes damaged along the way, your warranty will not cover a replacement.
Doing it yourself
Look we get it, a lot of folks out there are DIYers and we totally get that. Why pay someone to do something when you can simply roll up your sleeves and get the satisfaction of doing it yourself? As DIYers ourselves, we feel the same way. The thing is, there are just some things that are too important to not leave to the professionals.
When most DIYers do it themselves they do it their way, which ultimately may not be the flooring manufacturer’s way. And, when it comes to meeting the conditions for your flooring warranty, that is all that matters.
For instance, DIYers may not have the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation in mind when they do the installation or any necessary plank replacements or repairs. This opens you to voiding your warranty by not doing a “proper installation.” The best way to cover yourself from voiding your flooring warranty is to leave installation and repairs in the hands of the professionals.
Excessive moisture caused by flooding or large water spills can cause serious damage to hardwood flooring and any laminate or vinyl flooring that doesn’t carry a 100% waterproof guarantee. When water is absorbed by planks, they can swell, become loose, buckle, and warp, which will cause them to need to be replaced.
Flood damage and excessive moisture damage is typically not covered by warranties for hardwood flooring, so it is imperative that you do everything possible to protect your hardwood from water damage by cleaning up any spills as quickly as possible.
But what about 100% waterproof laminate and vinyl flooring? While these floors may not absorb moisture they also will likely not prevent it from causing damage to the subflooring underneath, which is obviously not covered by your warranty. So, even if your home is equipped with waterproof flooring, spills and floods need to be taken seriously and cleaned up before they can cause damage to the planks or subfloor.
Excessive wear and tear
While the finish warranty protects the finish of hard surface flooring from exposure, it is important to note that this typically does not cover damages and wear and tear that are naturally occurring.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, that means the scuffs and scratches that you can put on your floors by moving furniture around, rolling around in your desk chair, dropping something heavy, stomping around in steel-toed boots, and any other harm you might cause it aren’t a part of your warranty.
Plus, if your floors are installed in a room that is exposed to a lot of direct sunlight, sun exposure can cause a floor’s color to fade. Sunlight damage is also commonly not covered. So, do yourself and your floors a favor: be nice to them and take care of them.
Of course, as we mentioned, the specifics of the exact warranties you are eligible for will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so as a flooring shopper it is important to consider your options during the buying process.
At Tish Flooring, we believe in educating our customers to the best of our abilities to help make sure the flooring they purchase is the right style for them, their home, and their families. Our helpful sales team and project managers are more than happy to help, and we also do flooring corrections ourselves to ensure that your floors will be up to the manufacturer’s specifications and you maintain your flooring warranty eligibility for as long as you can.
Want to talk to one of our team about your options? Contact us today or schedule your free in-home estimate by calling 317-879-8474.
Learn more about the warranties available to you through manufacturers like Shawand Mohawk here.