Home>Discussions>INTERIORS>Molding & Carpentry>Contractor is installing floating laminate over an uneven floor, what can I do?
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Contractor is installing floating laminate over an uneven floor, what can I do?

Hi all. I have a contractor who is installing almost $2500 worth of high-end laminate floating flooring over a concrete base in the entire downstairs of my condo. He has been working for 3 days now and is almost complete. However, now that it's almost done (mostly just edges now need to be completed), I can tell that when I walk over the floors there are some BIG dips when you walk over certain areas. Some of the dips aren't that bad, but there are a few areas which feel like they could crack the boards over time.

When I first interviewed him, I asked him about the uneven floors (because you could feel it in the carpet that was there before). He said that there was some self-leveling stuff you could buy to pour down. However, when he was installing it, I asked him about leveling the floors and he said it was OK because of the fact that it was floating floors and it would just naturally bend over the dips.

At first I was OK, because it felt soft like a basketball court or something, but now I think there are some unacceptable areas. They go down almost an inch. I haven't paid him yet. I also don't want to screw him over, but nor do I want him to screw me over. He's a nice enough guy, and I haven't even paid him yet (the job is to be done tomorrow).

What should I do? What is appropriate of me to ask him to do? After all, I don't know if you _can_ pull up the floors to level them now without destroying the snap-in boards. :confused: BTW, they're snap-in, and there's no glue or nails.


Timothy Miller
Re: Contractor is installing floating laminate over an uneven floor, what can I do?

Howdy an 1" deflection means removing and addressing the uneven slab. The self leveling products are not for this much difference but cement products can be used. Do not pay until the floor is acceptably. good time to get another contractors opinion of how to address the issues you are pondering. Laminate flooring is not a self leveling product. did the installed install foam pas under it to quiet the floor and to mask slight imperfections?

Re: Contractor is installing floating laminate over an uneven floor, what can I do?

Hi, and thanks for the quick reply!

First of all, we did get some nice foam to go under it. Which does mask some simple bumps and all. I'm not to worried about how the floor is leveled either, as per your addressing the self-leveling stuff. I thought that simply taking a piece of cardboard box and putting it under the bad areas would work, to be honest.

The real question, then, is how to get under the installed floor to level it. There are quarter-rounds to be placed on the sides, which hasn't been done yet, so nothing is nailed or stuck to the sides. But I'm worried that you simply can't pull up the boards in the middle of the room/hallway without breaking them, and even if you did, if you could put boards back in the place that they were.

I don't think it's possible at this point to get another contractor, after all he's done practically all of the work already. However, I was wondering how to "confront" him about the problem in case there's a problem. What if he tells me "it's fine that way", or that he would have to destroy the existing flooring in order to get under there to level it (so I'd have to pay more for the flooring)? Do I have legal protection in this case? (I have absolutely nothing in writing, but on the other hand I haven't paid him yet)

Re: Contractor is installing floating laminate over an uneven floor, what can I do?

I asked him specifically about the leveling of the floor in the beginning. He said that he could level it. I guess he never said, "I will level it."

When I asked him about it while he was installing it, he said that because it was floating floors, it didn't need leveling and that when put the trim down (the quarter rounds), it wouldn't move as much. But that was in the beginning, and I couldn't tell how the floor acted until now when the whole floor was almost done.

It didn't occur to me that I would have to make him put everything down in writing, including "I will level the floor in this job." He is supposed to finish tomorrow. I will talk to him in the morning, and see what he says about fixing the problems, and report back.

So I'm 28 and probably a youngin' compared to many who deal with this stuff. It will end up costing about $4000 (all in all $7.25/sqft), which makes it the third most expensive thing I've ever bought! First of all, the floor looks great. They're the type that are long rectangles, just like planks, not squares like I've seen. And he laid them out staggered, so you don't see any ugly horizontal lines where two boards line up. I'm just worried about, when you walk on it, it bends down and you can see the boards move in the light. Of course I'm not sure about every single floor that I've ever walked on, but I don't recall walking on many floors that push down as much as these. No floor at any house I've ever lived at does that, at least I don't think so... maybe this is fine, and some floors are just soft like that, and some people like it? It didn't bother me so much until my roommate pointed it out, and now I'm worried.

I am curious, what is the acceptable amount of "give" or "softness" in a floating floor? In the kitchen, it feels really hard, I guess due to the existing levelness of the floor in there. But you can tell when walking around in the living room. And you can see it when someone walks on the floorboards, in the light, they bend down. Is this just one of those things that are okay, that are a given with some floors, and are expecting when they're floating floors? The hallway definitely needs to be fixed, but should I push him to fix the living room as well (i.e. any place where it's really soft)?

Re: Contractor is installing floating laminate over an uneven floor, what can I do?

Here's what I did. I left some post-it notes on the floor where I had concerns before I left for work. I talked to him over the phone about it, and he said he was able to pull up the boards from the side of the wall without breaking them, and put extra padding beneath them so they don't dip as much. He says they're still "soft" but not dipping as much.

Also, it relives me to know that it's OK for the floor to be "soft" or "spongy".

So I think I'm safe. I will see it when I get home, and hope I'm satisfied with what he's done with the dipping.

Thanks for everyone's help, and I'll post back tonight to say how it's turned out!

Re: Contractor is installing floating laminate over an uneven floor, what can I do?

OK so it's pretty much done. Basically I am satisfied; he put some more padding under the areas where it was sagging. I was still expecting the floor to be leveled prior to putting the floor on top, but hey, it is what it is now.

The only thing I wish I had done, and now I've learned, is to get a contract beforehand. The labor price was accurate, at $1.50/sqft, but there was an extra $200 charge for labor for fixing the step and having to remove and restore the toilet. I would have expected at most a $50 charge for the toilet and $50 for the step.

But I guess it's not worth fighting over. You live, you learn. All in all, though, the place looks great now. Very clean and classy. I don't know how much the value of my 2 bedroom condo can really go up from it, but hopefully I'll at least make back the $4000 I spent when it comes time to sell it in two years!

Re: Contractor is installing floating laminate over an uneven floor, what can I do?

I have ran into the same exact situation with the laminate that has just been installed in my living room (400 sq ft). The quarter rounds have not been nailed yet. My problem areas are sort of in the middle of the floor, hence, (1) Does the contractor have to remove all the laminate planks leading to the problem area or just the ones around the area? (2) So your contractor added extra padding, how has that worked over time, do you feel the dip or your feet sinking? (3) Would you advise using a floor leveling material? Please reply me at [email protected], as I need to make decision. Thanks for your help.

Re: Contractor is installing floating laminate over an uneven floor, what can I do?

I purchased the material. The contractor is just someone off Craigslist, hence, no formal contract. At this point, I am not looking for compensation, but merely the least expensive solution.

Re: Contractor is installing floating laminate over an uneven floor, what can I do?

1. You will need to remove all the planks over the area plus a couple of feet bordering it. Depending on the brand it may be difficult to do.
2. If you add padding it may feel spongy, because the padding is basically a thin sponge. It would bother me, but I like solid flooring. It is up to the user as to what you can live with.
3. The manufacturers recommend a self-leveling, cement-based underlayment and the variation in flatness should not exceed 1/8" in 6 feet or 3/16" in 10 feet. I have seen "springy floors" that flexed enough to cause the underlayment to break loose. So make sure to avoid that.

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