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Chancy
Installng Stair Treads and Stair Risers using laminate
Chancy

I hired a company to install laminate flooring on my 14 stairs between the downstairs and upstairs in my home. On the right side looking up the stairs, there are no visible gaps between the wall and the stair treads (what I call the stair step). On the left side, most of the steps have visible gaps between the wall and the treads, and some of the risers show gaps between the wall and the riser. The gaps appear to widen at the furthest point from where the tread and the riser intersect (what I call the edge of the step). The installation company tells me that gaps are normal in stair installations and advised me to fill the gaps in with wood putty. I understand that a gap is required in laminate floor installations because the floor floats, and is not glued down. But, in the case of the stairs, the installer glued down the laminate.

I have two questions:
1. If there are no gaps on the right side of each step, couldn't the installer cut the wood close enough on the left side of each step so there would not be any gaps?

2. Is there a standard in construction that states that the gap should only be an acceptable width (maybe 1/16 of an inch)?

I would like the installation company to reinstall the stairs with no visible gaps on either side of the stair treads or stair risers, but I don't know if my request is justified.

Thank you for any advice and direction you can provide me.

dj1
Re: Installng Stair Treads and Stair Risers using laminate
dj1

1. Gaps are needed for expansion.

2. Gaps should be 1/8" or less.

3. Narrow gaps can be filled in. Large gaps can be hidden with moldings.

Now, who's idea was it to install laminate on stairs?

(A) Most laminate are too slippery to be on stairs and there is a real risk of injuries. I would install carpet on stair (Even though I'm not crazy about carpet).

(B) Most laminate will show signs of wear and tear in high traffic areas like stairs, very quickly.

Regarding your case against the contractor: without seeing the quality of his work and your contract, I can't say. It's between you two.

Chancy
Re: Installng Stair Treads and Stair Risers using laminate
Chancy

Thank you for your prompt reply. It's timely because I'm meeting with the installation company tomorrow morning to review the work, and to discuss possible resolutions.

The link below will show you pictures of the stairs.

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B_7UMJuzE57IVTgxdVNDai1OT1U&usp=sharing

Barbara

dj1
Re: Installng Stair Treads and Stair Risers using laminate
dj1

After seeing the photos, I have this to say:

- If the cuts are 90 degree cuts, AND the treads are placed correctly - then the wall is a bit crooked.

- If the wall is perfectly straight - then the cuts and the way the treads are put down are not perfect.

- You can cover cuts with 1/4 moldings.

- If you hire a sub contractor, you become the general contractor, the supervisor, and ultimately, some responsibility rests on your shoulders. A general contractor can't leave sub contractors unsupevised and then say: "I wasn't there, don't blame me". A general contractor has to checks the work in progress and stop it when things go wrong. A general contractor can't split "to home depot", and expect all work to be perfectly performed like magic.

- Talk to your sub and maybe you'll reach a mutual solution.

Chancy
Re: Installng Stair Treads and Stair Risers using laminate
Chancy

I placed my order through one of the two major well know 'big box' home retail stores; they subcontracted out to the installation company. Would I still be considered the 'general contractor' and be responsible for overseeing the work?

dj1
Re: Installng Stair Treads and Stair Risers using laminate
dj1
Chancy wrote:

I placed my order through one of the two major well know 'big box' home retail stores; they subcontracted out to the installation company. Would I still be considered the 'general contractor' and be responsible for overseeing the work?

The Good News: If you have a contract with the big burrito, then legally they are the GC. You can demand that HD fixes the problem. Theoretically at least.

The Bad News: Go on line and search complaints against the two leading home improvement stores. Home Depot (and yes, I'm a customer there) has thousands, yes thousands of complaints. While not all complaints are valid, many of them do stand in court. Yet HD continues to contract subs who are really unskilled, underpaid, incompetent and unprofessional (not all of them are like that, of course). They play the numbers, and if they lose 5 cases out of 100, they still make money on 95 of them... It's that simple. A regular small time GC could not do that.

So what to do? Contact the store and talk to the manager. Bring your photos and see if he can offer you any help.

Chancy
Re: Installng Stair Treads and Stair Risers using laminate
Chancy

How naive I am to think that a big box home improvement store would provide professional workmanship. Now it's all coming together - why I've had so many problems with the installation and the horrible workmanship. The problem with the stairs is just one of many complaints I have about the installation. A two day floor installation has now extended to over 30 days, and my installation is still not completed. The installers walked off the job back in September. They left a hole in my wall, ragged carpet where the wood meets two rooms that are carpeted, and didn't finish installing the remaining product. The installation company called me two days later to get my satisfaction rating on their work. They were advised that the order had completed. I've been putting out one fire after another with the horrible finishing work. And, I did not get the 10% discount I was promised when I opened the store credit card. Two weeks ago I finally contacted the corporate headquarters for the big box store. That seemed to get the right players involved on my end. I'm asking them to redo much of the flooring transition strips and most all of the base boards - for the same reasons - all horrible cuts. Now I'm realizing that I might be beating my head against a wall using the same installation company and expecting different results. This project has turned my life upside down - I feel like I'm living a nightmare. Doubting my impressions of the workmanship, and thinking that my expectations were above normal, I paid a licensed general contractor to come to my home this past weekend to review the workmanship of the overall project. He was stunned at the extremely poor finishing work both on the floors and definitely on the stairs. So, it confirmed my worse thoughts - I paid a lot of money and received a far less than standard installation. I think the best I can hope for is to receive a major discount on the total installation charges. Wish me luck. I'm going to need it.

dj1
Re: Installng Stair Treads and Stair Risers using laminate
dj1

Sorry that all this happened to you...I hope you get some help from them without litigation.

How many times have we warned folks to insist on getting references from subs, then actually verify them.

When I was starting out I was told to ask for 2 or 3 references, so I did. Later I concluded that I had to verify them. The first one I called said that the sub was the best, trustworthy, professional, honest, stands by his work, and so on...Then I asked him if they were related, and the stupid reference said "yes, he's my cousin"...

A. Spruce
Re: Installng Stair Treads and Stair Risers using laminate
A. Spruce
Chancy wrote:

How naive I am to think that a big box home improvement store would provide professional workmanship.

Now I'm realizing that I might be beating my head against a wall using the same installation company and expecting different results. This project has turned my life upside down - I feel like I'm living a nightmare.

I paid a licensed general contractor to come to my home this past weekend to review the workmanship of the overall project. He was stunned at the extremely poor finishing work both on the floors and definitely on the stairs.

I paid a lot of money and received a far less than standard installation. I think the best I can hope for is to receive a major discount on the total installation charges. Wish me luck. I'm going to need it.

This is why we professionals do not recommend using big boxes for anything. I have completely sworn off Evil Orange. I will NEVER step foot inside one of their stores again. Crap products, crap service, crap store to ever have to find anything in.

As was stated earlier, sub contractors to Evil Orange don't make any money as a minion of Evil Orange, so they cut corners, do slipshod work, and run for the hills as soon as something goes south. The better way to go in nearly all instances is to find a good, reputable general contractor, who has the contacts to other good, reputable tradesmen. Do you pay a little more, yes, you do, but when you go through the experience you've just gone through, how much is it worth to you NOT to have to do that? How much time and money has been spent on this poorly executed project? How much work, ergo money not earned = lost money, have you had to miss to deal with this fiasco? Can you do it, yes you can, but NOT with the help of Evil Orange!

Lest you think I'm jaded against all big boxes, well, maybe I am, since they are responsible for the demise of actual suppliers who knew their products and knew what service was, but I digress. My experiences with Evil Orange have all been terrible, from finding product in the store to their subs installing product on a project (not by my choice ). My blood would literally start to boil the moment I walked into one of their stores. Conversely, I have found Lowe's to be the exact opposite, the stores are welcoming, well laid out, and the entire place is teaming with employees who are courteous and seem to know where everything in the store is located. I was even able to do a lumber return at the lumber register the other day and not have to schlep the materials to the far away other end of the store to customer service. I can't speak for other big box chains, as we do not have them in this area, but for what it's worth, this has been my experiences.

Sombreuil_mongrel
Re: Installng Stair Treads and Stair Risers using laminate
Sombreuil_mongrel

You probably got a fixed price, amIrite? If you were paying a craftsman by the hour, no matter how many, to scribe every cut to perfection, the cost would be double or more.
This is a case of getting what you paid for, I'm afraid. The big-boxes are in business to maximize profit and production, not craftsmanship.
Casey

Mastercarpentry
Re: Installng Stair Treads and Stair Risers using laminate
Mastercarpentry

Sorry you had problems, but you will never get good work at a discounted price- especially from big-box store installers. And I too would never have laminate flooring on a stair for the reasons already given. I just refused such a job when I did the hallway above the stair. Laminate needs edge spacing- yes. But it does not need to be seen; you are supposed to cut recesses into moldings (like the stair skirting) when it cannot be moved. Lots of time with a spacer and an oscillating saw but the right way to do the job. Covering the gap with shoe molding will work if it's acceptable to you. The gaps can also be caulked with a color which blends with the flooring OK if that's acceptable to you.

But at this point I think you need to get your lawyer involved, and when the settlement is paid you need to get a better flooring installer. And don't do the stairs in laminate- refinish them to match or carpet them.

Phil

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