Hardwood Floor Warranties: What Do They Cover?
Having a wood floor installed? You won’t want to forget to ask about the warranty. Otherwise, you may be selling yourself short.
On the flip side, you don’t want to assume your warranty covers more than it does. Or even accidentally do something to void the warranty.
That’s why understanding your warranty up-front is critical. Get the information you need so you don’t lose out.
Here, we’ll look at hardwood flooring warranties in general, particularly:
- Is there a warranty on hardwood floors?
- How long is the flooring under warranty?
- What does a floor warranty cover?
- What can void your warranty?
Use each section to guide you as you learn about the warranty for your particular flooring.
Is There a Warranty on Hardwood Floors?
Yes, hardwood floors typically come with a warranty, though the exact specifications will depend on the manufacturer, the choice of flooring, and whether or not the product is finished.
There are two main types of flooring warranties: (1) limited finish and (2) structural. We’ll learn more about them in a later section.
How Long is Flooring Under Warranty?
Hardwood floor warranties range from 10 to 30 years. Sometimes, they last even longer—or for a lifetime.
Here’s where reading “the fine print” becomes particularly important. These warranties often have many conditions, such as the flooring being installed and cared for properly. Failing to do so can cause the warranty to end sooner than it was supposed to.
Something else to check about your warranty is whether it’s transferable. Sometimes, warranties are only valid for the original purchaser.
Or in the case of All Pro Floors, their warranty “may be transferred to any subsequent owner within the initial two (2) years period after substantial completion.”
Occasionally, certain types of warranties, such as those for the structure of the floorboards, may only last a certain period (say 30 days) from the installation. So, check if your flooring has anything specific like that.
What Does a Floor Warranty Cover?
Flooring warranties are often for particular issues or types of damage.
Structural warranties cover defects related to the structure of the hardwood floor.
Finish warranties apply to the finish and condition of the floor.
For example, if your hardwood floor is experiencing standard use, but you start to see the finish separating from the wood or peeling, it would qualify under a finish warranty. Another scenario is the finish wearing to the wood sooner than promised.
This warranty, though, will typically not cover everyday wear and tear or damage caused by the owner, such as scratches, dents, scuffs, or discoloration from the sun.
Take a look at these statements in All Pro Floors’ warranty:
“Types of service provided at no extra charge under the terms of the warranty include repair of seams which gap, repair of transitional moldings, removal of air bubbles, loose pieces of flooring or molding. This warranty does not apply for gouges, scratches or damage caused by water, erosion, insects, pets, spiked heel shoes, neglect, misuse, insufficient protection, improper maintenance, not maintaining proper humidity conditions or failure to follow our written instructions.”
So, a finish warranty isn’t license to let your pet run all over the floor!
It also won’t apply to problems with the subfloor that could affect the floor—all the more reason to ensure your subfloor is ready before putting a floor over it.
What Does a Floor Warranty Pay for?
A flooring warranty from a great company will pay for a full replacement, including tear-out, installation, materials, and labor.
But with many companies, you might not be so lucky. Don’t assume that if something goes wrong, you won’t have to pay for anything.
Sometimes, all the warranty will do is cover a new bucket of adhesive or finish—the labor is on you. For that reason, it’s much better to do what you can to take precautions during installation.
Some warranties will only cover the condition of the materials. In this case, check all the materials for defects when you first pull them out of the box. This will give you the greatest chance of a successful installation.
A pre-installation warranty offered by Bella Cera recommends this:
“This warranty does not cover materials with visible defects once they are installed. Please immediately contact your retailer if you are not satisfied with the planks before cutting it.”
Does a Floor Warranty Cover Moisture-Related Issues?
It depends on the manufacturer. Usually, moisture damage is not covered by a flooring warranty unless the manufacturer guaranteed the floorboards would be at a certain moisture content and they weren’t.
The best thing you can do, though, is avoid moisture damage in the first place. Be sure to…
- Check the moisture content of the flooring before installation.
- Let the flooring acclimate to the ideal moisture content for the location.
- Keep the environment at a consistent temperature and humidity level.
- Clean up spills and leaks as quickly as possible.
What Can Void Your Flooring Warranty?
Failing to follow proper installation procedures or work with a professional may mean your warranty won’t be there when you need it.
Here are some other actions that could void your warranty:
- Purchasing materials from an unauthorized dealer
- Not installing it according to industry and manufacturer standards
- Installing it yourself (if you’re not a professional)
- Trying to repair it yourself
- Not maintaining your floor properly
Proper maintenance often involves climate control. The warranty by Bela Cera, the company we mentioned earlier, requires homeowners to keep their flooring at a temperature between 60 and 80° F and relative humidity between 30 and 50%.
If you’re not a professional yourself, be sure to hire someone who is. Consult with them about the warranty and get guidance on what kinds of floor care products to use and how often to apply them.
This way, you can get help for problems the warranty does cover.
Preventing the One Thing Most Warranties Don’t Cover
We don’t recommend you depend solely on your warranty. Instead, do your part to get your floor properly installed so that it’ll last far beyond the warranty.
That’s especially important with moisture issues, which are typically not covered anyway.
Excess moisture is one of the biggest threats to your hardwood floor. Therefore, you’ll want to take every step necessary to keep moisture from wreaking havoc and causing a flooring failure. A professional installer should use a moisture meter to check that the wood subfloor and floor are at the correct moisture content. If you’ve got a concrete subfloor, your installer should be using the Rapid RH.
And you can also be proactive about protecting your floor once it’s installed.
Have your flooring installer place a small data logger, such as Floor Sentry, in the underside of your floor planks so that you can monitor the moisture content at all times. Alerts on your smartphone will tell you if these conditions go out of range and put the floor at risk of moisture issues.
This way, you’ll protect your floors—and not have to worry about the warranty!
Jason Wright, Business Development Specialist for New Products, joined Wagner Meters in 2019. He comes to Wagner with over 35 years of experience in the flooring industry.