5 Common Customer Complaints about Hardwood Flooring

By Ben Nystrom, 10/25/11

Many professionals working in the hardwood flooring industry are so knowledgeable of their product that they forget that most consumers are not. This can cause a lot of tensions between manufacturer, installer, and customer. Knowing the most common questions and complaints customers have about new hardwood flooring can help you disarm even the most irate customers. Knowing what complaints people are likely to have before they have them allows you to educate your customers and provide excellent pre-emptive customer service. Here are five of the most common customer complaints we see in the hardwood flooring industry, the best way to address them, and things the customer should have been told before purchasing the flooring.

1. My rustic flooring dents too easily!

This is a common complaint from people that have purchased cabin grade or other "rustic" style flooring. Many interior designers choose cabin grade flooring because of its color and rustic appearance. Little do they know that cabin grade is actually a very inexpensive builder-grade hardwood that has a lot of natural imperfections, such as knots, knot holes, color variances, splits, and cracks, and is much more susceptible to dents and scratches. You'd think that the name would give this away – cabin grade sounds like it belongs in a cabin, right? Unfortunately, many consumers can't see past the wood's "character" and, of course, the low price tag. If your customer is interested in cabin grade flooring, make sure you find out the needs and expectations of the customer. If they want something that is scratch- and dent-resistant, help them pick a more resilient style.

2. My floor loses shine every time I wet mop it!

For some reason unbeknownst to most hardwood flooring professionals, many people think that wet mopping a wood floor is a good idea. As you well know, they couldn't be more wrong! Wet mopping hardwood will damage the finish as well as the floor itself. The best way to avoid hearing this complaint often is to give your customers proper care and maintenance instructions at the point of sale. Don't trust installers to do this – it's not really their job. And don't expect customers to seek this information out themselves. Giving customers printed maintenance instructions will help prevent future complaints.

3. My floor shows a lot of smudges!

This complaint usually comes from customers that have purchased high-gloss, tight-grained flooring. Like any high-gloss purchase – a Cadillac, a piano, etc. – the beautiful, shiny new floor is going to show every smudge and dent. Let your customers know before they buy that highly-finished floors are more likely to show smudges.

4. There are gaps between boards in my floor!

Solid nailed-down, wide-plank floors will gap. That is a fact. It is irresponsible to sell flooring to a customer without explaining this first. Once gapping is explained as a natural expansion and shrinking of the wood, most customers are not concerned by it. Failing to do so can lead to a lot of panicked and unhappy customers.

5. My floor is changing color!

Again, this is a common customer complaint that could be easily avoided if it was explained to the customer at the point of sale. Oxidation is quite common with hardwood flooring, especially with exotic hardwood flooring. The more light the floor is exposed to, the darker it will get. By educating customers on this matter before they purchase the flooring you can help them avoid massive discoloration.

Brazilian Cherry Hardwood Flooring
Many common customer flooring complaints stem from lack of knowledge about the product and proper maintenance techniques. Explaining everything you can about the flooring – the good and the bad – will make your customers happy and save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

By Ben Nystrom, 10/25/11

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