Intuitively, it would seem that a 25-year-warranty for prefinished wood flooring means that the manufacturer is VERY confident in the durability of its finish.
But a closer look reveals that what appears to be a manufacturer's trust in its product and a guarantee of your purchase for the warranty period is often heavily weighted in the favor of the manufacturer.
Pay Attention to the Details
There are plenty of quality prefinished hardwood flooring manufacturers, and prefinished wood floors are an excellent choice for many homeowners, so we certainly would not discourage the purchase of them.
But before placing value on a lengthy warranty, carefully read it. You’ll often discover they fall short on coverage, but a wise consumer won't be fooled.
The Finer Details
Most warranties include a “wear through” provision that guarantees the finish won’t wear off more than a certain percentage of the floor. But that percentage is often as much as 10 percent of total square footage—and that’s a lot of messed-up floor to live with until the problem gets so bad that the warranty kicks in!
And finish “wearing through” is not the same as finish becoming dull. Loss of sheen is almost never covered, but what are you going to do? Live with dull floors?
You will want the floors refinished, but this will have to be paid for by you—not the manufacturer. And once the floors are refinished, the warranty is void.
Exclusions Limit Value
Situations that will void a typical prefinished flooring warranty are normal wear and tear your average family will inflict on a floor:
- Improper maintenance-Your teenage daughter cleaned with an unapproved cleaner.
- Improper installation-Installing your own floors or hiring an inexperienced installer can be a costly mistake.
- Fading caused by sunlight-Any hardwood floor will change color in sunlight, this is nearly unavoidable.
- Damage caused by pets-Pet nails will cause surface scratches in the finish and heavier pets can actually dent some hardwood floors.
- Damage caused by rough use-Tonka trucks, dropping soup cans, did we mention pets?
You Might Move
The average length of homeownership is roughly seven years. A warranty is only valuable to you as long as you own the home. Most warranties are not transferrable to new owners, therefore, the warranty adds no value to your home in the long run.
Don’t be misled by long warranties—A company's reputation will say far more about the quality of their floors than an overinflated warranty ever will.