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Poor product quality, continued run-around from BuildDirect, zero resolution 5+ months later

Yet Another Build Direct Nightmare Fully appreciate that we are in the midst of a pandemic and that there are more important things to worry about at the moment. However, Ive decided to post this for two reasons 1) these issues have been ongoing for 5 months, with nothing but continued lip service from BuildDirect (BD), now they seem to be using the COVID19 nightmare as an excuse to drag their heels further; 2) with folks sheltering in place/quarantining, internet reading is way up and this may actually reach a broader audience than usual, and if I could save a potential BD customer some of grief weve been dealing with, this writeup was well worth it. TL;DR: poor quality/defective flooring, which doesnt hold up to even *the most careful* use. Builddirect using every trick to avoid culpability, endless loop of lip service, emails, to absolutely zero resolution or offer to make things right. Full story: Its important I start with full history here before anyone thinks Im either new to flooring or BD, or have unrealistic expectations for budget flooring. About 10 years ago, we purchased ~1500 sq ft of engineered wood from builddirect, installed it, and had zero issues. It held up well for 9 years, we sold the home, and it probably has many more years left. We never saw the need to refinish it. 9 years of normal use, throughout the home, including the kitchen. 5 of those years raising an active boy, so you get the picture. The floor cleaned as expected, held up as expected with normal signs of wear and tear and we had zero complaints. There were no complaints and I recommended BD to countless friends and guests based on this experience. Fast forward to October 2019. We moved into a new house and purchased 3200+ SQFT of engineered hardwood from BD. THIS experience has been a nightmare ever since installation was completed, and continues to be as BD sends us on an endless loop of refusing liability, deflecting blame (installers, us, everyone but the manufacturer). Most recently, after many emails and calls, the VP agreed to visit our home to perform another inspection, and has been less than truthful about his observations. Below, Ive itemized the numerous issues weve had with this floor- Major Issues: 1.The edges of the planks are extremely fragile, splintering and chipping *constantly* from socks, microfiber cloths, and vacuuming. These floors never see any footwear other than socks. Any contractors weve hired are always required to wear booties. Its gotten to the point where we dont even allow our cleaning people to use the microfiber mops, they vacuum only using a soft bristled brush. I do the microfiber mopping myself. I cant tell you how careful I am, and *still*, there are constantly shards of the edges breaking off and splintering from a light swipe of a cloth every single rime, or simply walking in socks almost every day. Everything gets caught. After weeks of experimenting, there is simply no way to prevent it. The floors are impractical for normal use well beyond any reasonable expectation for a wood flooring. The first thing we looked into were the humidity levels in the home. We moved 10 minutes down the road and are no different than the previous home. Further, we have central humidification (2 central units) and I have 6 gauges throughout the home to monitor the RH; 35-50% RH inside the home, spanning the end of the summer (on the high end of that range) when the floor was first installed, in the winter months, and now in early Spring. The floor was also acclimated as required; in fact, to err on the safe side it acclimated far longer than BD required. The salesmen said 2 days is good enough, and we actually left it in the to-be-installed area for 11 days. To try to cover up the splintering, I basically walk around with putty every Friday. This began when the floor had just been installed and continues now, 5 months later. Ridiculous to say the least. 2.The finish is hazy/blotchy/dull/inconsistent. This is something that has driven us absolutely mad since installation. And no, it has nothing to do with the dark color of the wood- some planks are just fine, in any light and from any angle. Many other planks have either a haze or are somehow losing their finish and/or self-polishing from normal wear. We have a lot of open floor space on our first floor. The combination of some planks being just fine and others affected by the issues noted results in an awful look, both under natural light and room lighting. After much back and forth, a VP from BD agreed to visit our home in early January to see for himself. I highlighted all issues. Throughout the visit, this gentleman couldnt stop talking about his concern over the finish. Yes, these were his exact words, of course in spite of what he is willing to admit now. His exact term was that it seemed this floor was self-polishing from routine walking in socks. I challenged him to explain to me how a mass produced flooring intended for foot traffic (in our case, no shoes of any sort) that develops these issues is acceptable. I dont understand how one can deem that this is not a defective finish when are not doing anything out of the ordinary and these issues are evident throughout. He promised to take it up with the manufacturer. And then COVID19 hit, and despite repeated check-ins, we still have zero resolution. And on that note, if we purchased the flooring from BD, why do we have to wait for DB to sort things out with their manufacturer? DB can do whatever they want on the back-end directly with the manufacturer, but none of this back-and-forth should be pushed on the consumer who purchases from BD. Ridiculous that we have to be on standby while whatever conservations take place (which we are not privy to) between manufacturer and BD. Update- Now BD is saying that the manufacturer wants to come visit. How many visits do we have to grant to BD (mind you, the VP admitted to the issue with the finish when he visited) before this is resolved?! Issues which Ive already began overlooking simply because the top two are far worse: 1.It is impossible to clean. In fact, as of this post and almost 3 months into this ordeal, despite repeated requests to their sales team and even customer service, Ive still not received an answer on how to clean this floor. We have a lot of open space and large open areas are covered in blotches. No, this is not glue. Used bona at the start, builddirect began blaming the haze on bona, so we stopped. Started using just a *slightly* damp (water) microfiber cloth, and this has had the same effect. No matter what weve tried, still the same hazy/cloudy surface. At this point, the only reasonable conclusion is that this finish is simply not appropriate for normal foot (sock) traffic. Furniture maybe, but not flooring. 2.There are cracks forming on the planks. Some are at the ends, many are in the middle. I know that they are new because Ive inspected the floors meticulously since the day they were installed. These are appearing in crevices and textures that were previously underneath stain and finish. Now that the cracks have formed, the unfinished part of the plank (underneath the finish) is visible. Humidity is a non-issue, as explained above. 3.There are blotches on many planks. These are areas where the stain/finish was applied inconsistently during manufacturing. In response, builddirect repeats the same tired story that we should have inspected the boards before installing. Maybe so, and Ive had this discussion with my installer. But the blotches exceed any reasonable threshold. The blotches appear on well over 10% of the shipment, so your 10% cut overage is simply not sufficient to offset just this defect. Factor in 10% for installation, and youve got a product that requires at least a 20% overage. Id estimate that I would need to order 30% more material at the onset. Take this into account when considering what you think you are saving by ordering BD. I do want to add that BD sent over an inspector. The gentleman they sent over was hardly professional or qualified and I dispute whatever findings did eventually get shared with me through conversations with BD. In the exact words of the VP who visited our home, any floor can be passed and any floor can be failed. This inspector spent half the time telling me about his Judo/ gossiping about his family, and the other half measuring distances between staples. Not a word about the cracks. To see if he could remove the haziness, he took acetone (yes, acetone) to a plank in the middle of a bedroom floor. All that did was strip some of the finish, as expected. Ive escalated my issues all the way up to the CEO. Spoke to the COO. Was promised they would leave no stone unturned in resolving this. Dozens of emails (and no further calls) later, we are spinning in circles as BD continues to deflect any culpability for selling this junk. At this point Ive decided to go public with my complaints as Ive simply run out of patience from almost 3 months of this ordeal. Im sure theyll jump in here with the typical installation/humidity/maintenance error nonsense. By the way, throughout this time, the product page on BDs site will not accept new reviews. Interesting how Ive raised this matter multiple times and the answer I keep getting is that they are migrating their platform and reviews will be accepted soon. This has been going on for over 5 months. Heres the worse part about buying poor flooring: resolving the issue is never just about getting financial reimbursement (not that this was even offered to me). But lets say that in theory, one would have two options to remedy these issues. One would be to rip out all of this junk and start fresh, running as far away as possible from BD. Colossal nightmare. In our case, full trowel glue was used in additional to nails. Removing this flooring would be an absolute nightmare and would require replacing most of the subfloor (no one will waste the kind of man hours needed to grind down the glue residue), and Im not even getting into the headache and cost of having to replace the baseboard and shoe molding (this was also purchasing and installed brand new, throughout the entire house, following the flooring install). Option two would be to hire a crew to refinish the floor. This too brings a number of concerns. Firstly, its a very messy project. But most concerning is this- would you trust this flooring to withstand sanding and refinishing? Yes, it has a 3mm wear layer. But do you really trust the quality of this floor given all of these issues? I do not. As another insult to injury, about a month after we purchased 3200 sq ft of this product, they put it on clearance and dropped the price 30%. Wonder if putting it on clearance was a result of our complaints. Truthfully, it should have been pulled from the market entirely. Im sharing my story so that others dont live through the same nightmare. Whatever you think that you are saving, it is just not worth it. As mentioned above, saving 20% upfront on the cost of materials is completely irrelevant when youre left with 3200 sq ft of junk with no support from BuildDirect. The savings are simply not worth the risk. If you search the web, there are countless cases like ours. Makes you wonder if these types of experiences were the reason the company went through financial trouble. Seems that they havent learned their lesson and continue to sell subpar products and offer zero support. We had thought that our one good experience meant that things would be fine this time around, but we suffered the same fate as so many other folks burned by BD. Find a great local shop who will stand by their product. Thanks for reading and good luck.

User's recommendation: Run far away from BuildDirect. You will pay dearly for any money saved at initial purchase.

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1 comment
#1933273

We have a high standard for our customer service and products and we are sorry that you feel we didn’t meet that standard. That said, we have done our utmost to address the issues you had with the products.

We contracted and paid for an independent 3rd party National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) certified flooring inspection company to inspect your floor. As per the inspection report, the squeaking noises are a result of installation issues. The mottled finish is a maintenance related issue and not a result of manufacturing error. It is noted that the torn and splintering joint side edges are manufacturing related, however, they are within the margin for the manufacturer’s tolerances and warranties.

The manufacturer’s warranty does not cover materials with visible defects once they are installed. The installer also failed to follow the NWFA fastener schedule for installing wood floors. You rejected this official inspection report and we personally flew out our VP of Category Management to visit your home and to inspect your floors. He advised to you that in his professional opinion, he did not find the flooring to be defective.

He then offered the opportunity to you to have the manufacturer come in to review the floors to see if anything could be done outside of the warranty. However, as you are based in New Jersey, we have not had the opportunity to coordinate a visit from the manufacturer at this time due to the shelter in place rules in your area.

All of the above that we have done has indicated that the issues you have with your flooring is a result of installation error, the site itself and the maintenance of the floors. However, we understand your frustrations, so we offered to send you replacement flooring free of charge so that you could replace the floor boards that you are unhappy with (and should not have been installed in the first place), but you declined that offer, so we consider this issue closed.

ID
#1841273 Review #1841273 is a subjective opinion of poster.
Location
New York, New York
Service
Builddirect Customer Care

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