Facility Managers

Hardwood Installation: Problems to Look For

by Jason Brubaker

Installing hardwood floors may not be your expertise—that’s why you hired a contractor to get the job done. But once the project is finished, it’s important to know that the installation was done the right way.

Evaluating your hardwood floors after installation is crucial and just glancing at the floor won’t show you if it needs repair. Here are few specific signs to look for when evaluating your new hardwood.


Abnormal gaps occur when the flooring is either too wet or too dry when installed. If your floor is being installed in a heated area (such as a room heavily exposed to sunlight), your contractor needs to know this in order to effectively install the hardwood without creating gaps.

Make sure the hardwood that is being installed is in good condition. If the wood is visibly wet, gaps are likely to happen. If there is too much moisture or humidity, gaps will occur and widen if left unchecked, leading to costly repairs and replacements.


If the finish on your flooring starts to peel, the finish was either contaminated or improperly mixed during application. Minimize peeling by removing potential contamination sources from the installation area.

Choose the correct finish for your floor (link to polyurethane and varnish) and consult with your contractor. Also be sure to do some research on how to prepare the finish; this will allow you to check in with your contractor after installation and ensure the job was done correctly.


Like gaps, cracks typically occur when installation takes place in a humid environment.

Check for cracking by doing a thorough search after installation. Cracks may be a little difficult to spot, but this is when you’ll want to fix them. As time goes on, cracks can worsen to the point where you may need to refinish the floor or even replace the plank(s) altogether.

Prevent cracking during installation by ensuring the area is the right environment. Keep humidity and moisture at a safe equilibrium for your contractor, and choose the right hardwood for your respective climate.

Debris in the Finish

If the installers are careless, small pieces of debris can easily fall into the finish. Dust or trash may not be visible during the application process, but they will be very noticeable once the finish is applied.

Avoid this problem by ensuring your contractor has a clean, open area to work when installing your floor. Once the finish has dried, check for any bumps or rises caused by debris under the finishing. If the damage isn’t too bad, you can sand the floor before adding a top coat of finish.

Poor Sanding

A poor sanding job can cause blemishes and unappealing scratches in your floor. This can be difficult to notice during installation, but the finishing process will magnify these problems. Check for abnormalities and scratches in the wood’s finish after it dries.

Prevent this from happening by using abrasive pads while sanding between coats. Stopping sanding blemishes and scratches beforehand is crucial, because fixing the problem can require sanding off the finish and starting over.

Dull Finish Appearances

Don’t just rely on the product’s can that claims it can be used on hardwood; do some research. If the product you’re using is not specifically designed to finish hardwood floors, damages such as the ones listed above can occur.

Even if no true damages happen, the end result can be dull and not be what you wanted. It’s important to prevent this from happening by fully understanding the products you’re using; from the hardwood itself to the finish being applied. Consult with your contractor to ensure you are both on the same page.

Even if your floor looks good after your contractor is finished installing, problems could be in the finish or hardwood. It’s important to thoroughly check for these abnormalities and inconsistencies immediately after your floor is installed.

If problems such as cracks and peeling are left unchecked, further repairs will be needed. Going back to refinish your flooring or replace planks costs more work, time and money that could be better-spent on other home improvement projects.

Prevent headaches and damage before it happens--take the time to properly assess your hardwood flooring after installation, so you’re happy with the project for years to come.