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Old 08-14-2013, 07:15 PM   #1
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Cork in new home build that can't withstand a single drop of water :(


Hoping we can receive some feedback despite this not being a DIY issue - we may have to DIY represent ourselves in small claims court though, lol!

We took possession of a brand new condo on the first of June with cork flooring throughout the entry way, living/dining rooms and kitchen.

Yesterday our roommate accidentally knocked 1/4 of a bottle of water off the coffee table and onto the cork floor. We immediately cleaned it up and the water was on the floor for less than 30 seconds. I know how finnicky cork can be so I was very thorough with drying. Despite this, less than 10 minutes later the floor was swollen and bubbling and it looks awful. I notified the builder and they're giving me a boohoo too bad so sad response and will not reply to inquiries regarding why they would install cork like this in a kitchen or entry way where moisture is bound to be present.

I asked a few times as well if the floor needed to be sealed to keep water from entering through the board seams. I was told on many occasions that it comes pre-sealed from the factory and no additional maintenance was required. They told me that using a sealant may void the manufacturer's warranty so they advised against it. I was also told not to wet mop and to only use a barely damp mop which is what I've done and have not had issues there. Sure, makes sense I guess, except the seams are still completely exposed without having had sealant applied after the installation!!! I'm not in construction and even I can figure this one out.

I also looked around the kitchen and despite having a rug covering 90% of the floor area there, there are bubbles where single drops of water have touched the floor. Our roommate has a husky who occassionally drools a drop or two of saliva (not pools of saliva like say a boxer might do), and the flooring is damaged there too.

Just wondering what you guys would expect from this, and if this would be acceptable for a new home for you, and maybe who you might get to listen to you if the builder refused. I did my research on cork before purchasing, and it is supposed to be water resistant. Not waterproof, I know - but it should be able to take an accidental spill for more than half a minute without total ruin ESPECIALLY when installed at the front door and kitchen.

Where am I supposed to do dishes? Drink, cook, eat? The bedrooms and bathrooms, because they have carpet and lino?! I'm sure there is reasonable expectation of durability, and this isn't reasonable in my books.

The manufacturer warranty doesn't cover water damage, which I'd understand if I flooded the place with my mop and bucket, or left the water running while I went out for dinner, but this was literally 30 seconds or less. I am anticipating the builder will also hide behind the "water damage" clause and will weasel out of fixing this under their "comprehensive" 1-year builder warranty.

FYI - the cork came standard and there was no option to change it to different flooring during the build. We were not warned that cork is extremely sensitive to any amount of moisture.

Thanks for your thoughts, advice, suggestions, opinions, or whatever it may be. Just getting my ammo ready for a war of sorts here.

Here is a picture of what the floor looked like 30 minutes after that small spill wiped up immediately. The damage happens mostly around seams, but not necessarily.

Cork in new home build that can't withstand a single drop of water :(-dscf1528.jpg
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:22 PM   #2
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I have specified this cork product line for ages with no problems whatsoever. Note that it comes with a nice, special, urethane, protective finish and it is recommended another matching it be applied immediately after the install. I have had it put in many kitchens and although not wild about the idea, even in one bath. It comes with 25 year structural and 5 year finish warranty.

http://www.duro-design.com/index.cfm/cork-flooring/

Other manufacturers may have other finish options and it sounds like yours has not much at all on it. I actually think the problem you are having is mainly with the finish (I am guessing it is a cheap polycrylic of some kind) swelling and tugging at the cork surface and not the cork itself. It is almost like you see with cheap laminate flooring. If I am right, this really doesn't help your situation at all.

What a shame. I think cork floors can be quite beautiful and with great sound insulating qualities. Sounds like yours, or its finish, was a low tier product. I do not know what recourse you have but stand firm and don't let the contractor push you around. Call and hound the manufacturer for suggestions on what you can do to seal the product once you replace the damaged sections.

I should think since it was forced on you, you can gain some remedy in this. I hope so. Sounds weird they would not let you change or upgrade flooring so long as you signed off on it.

Last edited by user1007; 08-14-2013 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:52 PM   #3
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Thank you for your response. I don't even know who the manufacturer is, I am still waiting on the builder to divulge this information.

The exact reason for only having cork as an option was for the sound insulation as this is a condo unit.

Even with a warranty they will just say "water damage, not our problem" even though this is beyond unreasonable. They built ALL units with the same cork, and now it is my problem that THEY chose their product/installation/whatever poorly. I've only been in this home 2 months and nearly half of the flooring is already damaged, despite extreme precautions taken.

What's more, the builder/developer markets this condo to small families and kid and dog friendly. I don't think so, if a child is never allowed to spill their meal onto the floor, and a dog can't let a single drop of drool escape its mouth, lest the damn floor be damaged.

I think I am screwed
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:58 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by turnanewleaf View Post
I think I am screwed
Don't cave too quickly. They are probably counting on you doing so.

Normal spills as you describe would not be considered water damage in the same way a plumbing leak or something would and should fall under the category of normal use, wear and tear I should think.

I am sorry you are having this experience because cork flooring can, and should be, really nice.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:36 PM   #5
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:59 AM   #6
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Cork itself does not absorb water. It repels it. You have a few things that can fail in a laminate type of cork floor. The first is the core board. It's still a composite material that can swell with moisture. Most brands treat the joints of their board with paraffin oil to repel water and protect the board, but some budget lines may not. Next, the cork you have looks like it is veneered. You have solid corks, which look like regular old cork, and then you have veneered corks, which look fancier. Veneers are normal cork at the core with a thin layer of more exotic cork patterns adhered to the top. In this can the adhesive bonding the veneer to the face can be the part susceptible to water damage. Either way, I would demand to know the exact manufacturer and product so you can check into their warranties. As was previously noted, everyday spills, immediately cleaned up are not defined as water damage.
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:23 AM   #7
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Thank you for the information that everyday spills are not considered water damage! Great to know this as I try to deal with these guys. I just hope they don't try to make me prove it or something? I don't know - I just have a very high distrust towards well...most all companies unfortunately.

Only a few emails in and the builder is not being very responsive, and all I've been looking for is guidance on how this can be remedied! Haven't been nasty about anything (yet)...

I'll also take another look through our paperwork and see if the spec sheet has any info, but if I'm remembering correctly there isn't much there.

I've asked a couple neighbours their experiences and neither are having problems like these. One neighbour's dog peed on the floor and it looked terrible for a few days but now you can't even tell where it happened!
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:35 AM   #8
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That looks like Lumber Liquidator product. I have it in my basement. It is factory sealed. I have not had any of the issues you are having. It looks like the installers beat up the edges pretty good, which would allow the water to penetrate and swell the cork.

While it is not a top end product, it should be holding up better then you are experiencing. I think a lot of your issues could be blamed on how it was installed.
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Old 08-15-2013, 10:44 AM   #9
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That looks like Lumber Liquidator product. I have it in my basement. It is factory sealed. I have not had any of the issues you are having. It looks like the installers beat up the edges pretty good, which would allow the water to penetrate and swell the cork.

While it is not a top end product, it should be holding up better then you are experiencing. I think a lot of your issues could be blamed on how it was installed.
I am guessing an install issue too and as Poppa and I have suggested you have a laminated product and or a coating that is just coming "unlayered". The cork itself is not failing but this makes little difference to you.

I shouldn't think you would have any trouble prevailing in small claims court if the cost of repairing or replacing this is within the dollar limits of such courts where you are. Just keep good photos and notes with dates. We are a culture that races too quickly to litigation though so I hope you can work this out in some other and more civilized manner. Just don't let the statutes expire on you!

Last edited by user1007; 08-15-2013 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 08-15-2013, 01:36 PM   #10
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I am guessing an install issue too and as Poppa and I have suggested you have a laminated product and or a coating that is just coming "unlayered". The cork itself is not failing but this makes little difference to you.

I shouldn't think you would have any trouble prevailing in small claims court if the cost of repairing or replacing this is within the dollar limits of such courts where you are. Just keep good photos and notes with dates. We are a culture that races too quickly to litigation though so I hope you can work this out in some other and more civilized manner. Just don't let the statutes expire on you!
The last thing I want is to go to court, but I will make it very clear them that I am not afraid to take it that far, as well as writing all the reviews I can, calling every media outlet, anything I can do! They will not sweep me under their cheap rug. Small claim filing fees for claims under $7500 costs $100 and I have lots of time off on weekdays, so no lost wages to account for. The entire condo is 900 sq ft, so even expensive cork replacement shouldn't exceed that amount, as the corked part probably isn't more than 500 sq ft or so.

What I am most angry about is the lack of communication. Can't even be bothered to reply to an email, unreal...and I have been very polite thus far.

I don't think it's just the top layer/veneer that is peeling up, the entire board feels swollen, or at least the first couple of layers of it. I'm sure it's 90% particleboard - would not be surprised the way it reacts to water. It is unreal.

Thank you again everyone

Last edited by turnanewleaf; 08-15-2013 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 08-15-2013, 01:42 PM   #11
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About half his original post is blocked out by blogs.
It is a CSS sheet problem. I am not seeing it with Chrome Version 28.0.1500.95 m like I did with the previous version of Chrome. I do get problems with the mobile Chrome browser, when on the site, that stuff does not show up properly on my iPhone.

Oh, there are some major problems with the CSS sheet, as validated at http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/v...g=&lang=en#css




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Old 08-15-2013, 07:40 PM   #12
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Hmm...I can copy & paste and PM it to you if you want?
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Old 08-16-2013, 07:31 PM   #13
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Hi guys, just want to give an update and see if you can give me more guidance..


I finally got a hold of someone but I had to get in touch with head office to speak with the construction manager as the service manager was clearly avoiding me. He would literally turn and walk the other way when he saw me walk out of the building...and I don't think I smell that bad...

Anyway a rep from the floor installation company is going to come take a look in a couple of weeks so some progress at least.

I am wondering however if you guys could look at these pictures and tell me if the seams of this floor (these are parts undamaged) look right. They look really rough to me, but I am not sure what to expect. There are also some chunks missing from some of the seams and I'm not sure how we could have done that, as we have never dragged furniture across the floor. The floor looks like this throughout.

Thanks so much!

Cork in new home build that can't withstand a single drop of water :(-dscf1550.jpg
Cork in new home build that can't withstand a single drop of water :(-dscf1547.jpg
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Old 08-16-2013, 08:28 PM   #14
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Looks like cheap laminate flooring to me, not real cork flooring.



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Old 08-18-2013, 10:27 AM   #15
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Here is what mine looks like. You can barely see the seams. Your installer beat up the edges as they were installing it. Water is getting to the lower layers at the seams and it is swelling up.
Keep fighting. Any decent cork floor should not do that.
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Cork in new home build that can't withstand a single drop of water :(-image-2409265414.jpg   Cork in new home build that can't withstand a single drop of water :(-image-1693041857.jpg  
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