LVP to avoid and a mystery to solve (read if considering Coretec or Cali Bamboo). Advice needed!

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Ugh. I’m sorry in advance for the length of this post. It truly is a long (and ongoing) story.

In July of 2019, we used a local flooring company to install almost 2000 sq ft of Coretec Berlin Pine. Within a month it was clear that the bevel paint was coming off on many of the planks and many of those were also chipping at the corners where the paint had come off. The flooring company worked with Coretec (Shaw) to bring out an independent inspector to investigate and the problem was so obvious that we had a response within the same day that the floor was defective (a process we were told that usually takes weeks). After some back and forth we were eventually refunded the money by Shaw and, of course, wanted nothing more to do with them or any of their products.


We worked with the flooring company to find a replacement and ended up going with Cali Bamboo North Shore Oak because that was the only other LVP that we could find that had the warm tones we were looking for. After the installers had ripped up the Coretec planks on the bottom floor, they pointed out to us that there were so many pattern repeats in the Cali Bamboo flooring that they couldn’t make it look good. This pattern repeat issue was something we had explicitly checked on before purchasing so we were livid that we had been told inaccurate information by CB sales people. There was a 3-day struggle with them because they kept saying if we install the floors we accept them as is, but our argument was we had to install what was here because we were on subfloors at that point and we have a toddler (not clean and not safe!!). They FINALLY agreed that that was sound reasoning, then told us there was a problem with manufacturing and there actually should have been more patterns than the 4 we had and they had plans to fix it. They refunded our money with the assurance they would have the pattern repeat issue fixed and new planks would be in stock in about 6 months. So the installers hastily laid down what we had from them at the time with everyone expecting a new floor fairly shortly (which didn’t happen). So we currently have clearly defective boards on the floor (one even has numbers printed on it) and overly stressed and cracked molding (some with nails sticking out) from too many install attempts because we just needed them to get us off the subfloors immediately. The Coretec floors are still installed upstairs because they hadn’t been ripped up yet when the installers figured out there was a problem with Cali Bamboo.


It’s been over a year since then and Cali Bamboo recently said they fixed the repeat issue. We found out they didn’t really (just took the same 4 exact patterns and reversed them) and when we questioned how that didn’t line up with what they said before they’ve gone silent and basically aren’t answering anything else. So needless to say, we are also not fond of Cali Bamboo.


We are still searching for LVP with warmer tones and are awaiting samples from many companies including Flooret (who has had the best customer service BY FAR so far). I have to say though, given that we had to have the flooring install company fight for us two times in a row over unexpected issues, we are highly anxious about ordering direct and having an independent installer do the installation for us. If our house is under some kind of crazy curse and something goes horribly wrong with our floors for a third time, even if the flooring manufacturer admits fault, I imagine we’d be out the installation costs? The flooring manufacturers we dealt with for our two horrible experiences were abysmal, but at least the flooring company we worked with that partnered with the manufactures fought for us until we (and they) were refunded everything including installation costs.


There is another piece to the story that we’re terrified of repeating. Both of these issues apply to the Coretec floors but not to the Cali Bamboo floors. First off, the “haze” that people complain about on forums that makes it to where you can’t ever get the floor looking clean is absolutely true. And we’ve only ever used approved cleaning tools and solutions. Anything Coretec suggests is worthless to fix this problem. There are still footprints from install a year and a half ago on those floors. No problems with the look or ease of cleaning the Cali Bamboo floors downstairs at all.


This last issue is the worst one. Since we have a toddler, we spend a lot of time down on the floor. It took awhile but we finally figured out why all of our socks and pants were getting holes in them so quickly and why every time I’d get up from my knees off the floor I’d have whitish patches on them. The Coretec floors are shredding our clothes (like a fine-grit sandpaper)! Again, the Cali Bamboo floors do not do this. I sure wish they had a better pattern repeat solution and their customer service was better so we could just go with them because at least we know their floors won’t tear up our clothes and we can clean the floors just fine without the haze. We have gotten several samples already from Armstrong Empower and Pergo extreme and they seem to have the same ultra matte finish as the Coretec Berlin Pine. I so hope this isn’t the latest trend that we’re going to find across the board because I’m telling you that finish is horrible (though as explained below, it perhaps can’t all be blamed on the finish). When we go upstairs we have to avoid touching the floors with our clothes to try to keep them from being ruined (pretty hard to do with a three year old). It’s just an absolutely ridiculous situation.


The thing we can’t figure out is all of these companies are using different materials for the protective top layer (Coretec uses UV acrylic, Armstrong Empower uses diamond dust with urethane, Pergo Extreme uses aluminum oxide) but if it even remotely has a matte finish like the Berlin Pine then it does the same thing (as evidenced by me getting down and testing the samples on my pant knees!) regardless of what the wear layer is made of. Even some samples that aren’t super duper matte are doing it. We were hoping we could just avoid the acrylic since that’s what Coretec uses but it doesn’t seem to be the material that’s the culprit, it seems to be the finish I guess but that doesn’t really explain it totally either!? Also can’t explain it away by blaming it on embossing/texture because the Coretec floor we have doesn’t have really bumpy ridges (and feels pretty smooth to the touch though you can definitely tell it’s not a slick/glossy finish just by the feel). The Cali Bamboo floor we have does have quite a bit of embossing/texture (more than we’d prefer in fact) but no issues with clothes shredding. The CB North Shore Oak finish does have a noticeably slicker feel in between the embossed ridges if you run your finger over it compared to the Berlin Pine, though it doesn’t appear glossy or shiny. Does anyone have any clue as to what on earth is causing this fabric damaging property on the floors that are doing it??!!


I’ve also seen other people complaining about the haze problem with other LVP besides Coretec so that also doesn’t seem to be a problem that is specific to the acrylic top coat they are using. (But again, no such problem with Cali Bamboo so definitely not an issue with all LVP).


Also, of note, we saw the issue with paint coming off the bevel on A LOT of samples we looked at in our second round of looking for a replacement. You could see the paint coming off onto a wet paper towel (just using water) by just rubbing it over the painted bevel. So that’s also not an issue just specific to the Coretec floors (at that time Cali Bamboo was the only one we tested that didn’t have this issue). So if you are floor shopping and are getting something with a painted bevel, I recommend you do the wet paper towel test!


So I guess what I’m looking for here is...

1) We’re seeking an understanding of why some LVP has the haze problem people complain about and why some LVP has the clothes shredding problem we’ve had and at least one LVP (Cali) doesn’t. Since neither of these issues seem to be able to be explained away by a difference in what the top layer is made of or whether or not there is pronounced texture/embossing we don’t know how to avoid it and are understandably terrified of going through another round of flooring fail!

2) Also wanting to hear from people about whether or not they have LVP that has the haze/footprint issue or the clothes shredding issue or the bevel paint issue or the dumb pattern repeat issue. I’m sure there are some who do actually have the clothes problem (given our testing of recent samples and how widespread the matte finish is now) but don’t realize it or aren’t down on the floors enough for it to be noticeable. BTW, we told Coretec about it and they didn’t care in the least. When we left negative reviews mentioning the clothes-shredding capabilities of their flooring they said it must have been an installation problem (as if).


We’re desperate to find a replacement that isn’t going to repeat any of these problems we’ve experienced! Any advice/help anyone can share will be GREATLY appreciated!! TYIA!
 
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BTW, I also posted my story on a private FB flooring advice group (Facebook Groups)
and, guess what, people are saying they are experiencing the same clothes-shredding problem on their floors too (not all Coretec either)! Coretec, Lifeproof, and Flooret have been mentioned so far. They couldn't figure out why so many socks and pants were getting holes in them and the problem started when they installed their floors! So this is turning out to at least seemingly be a more widespread issue in the LVP industry that most people just haven't caught onto yet. I'm hopeful that people that are starting to figure it out let manufacturers/dealers/installers know so that the companies start testing their finishes to make sure they don't accelerate wear and tear to clothes to a ridiculous degree! I saw one friend's daughter wear holes in her pants while playing on our floors in one afternoon. I had to say "I'm sorry you have to get new pants; it's our floors." So far CaliBamboo are actually the only ones that haven't had that matte finish and I hope we can find more that don't (though it sure is seeming to be the trend across the board on the rest of the samples we are getting, unfortunately).
 

highup

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I haven't read your entire post but don't be concerned about Shaw's quality. It appears they had a lot more problems than just your floor so they were quite aware of it before the inspector arrived.
Cortec is one of the most popular floors out there and I've never heard of a problem like that. Our local carpet one store has been selling that stuff since it's very existence and I've never heard of quality issues with that product it's got a heck of a guarantee.
You might check out a product called Provenza. I'm installing that product now for a customer. I did their kitchen and dining room six right months ago and they're thrilled with the product. All products have pattern repeats but it's often the skill of the installer to place the planks correctly. The installer needs to plan ahead and stagger the lights and the darks and the patterns and the end joints so that nothing lines up in an overly noticeable pattern. Doing that takes a lot of time. Do not cheap out on the labor price.
Quality of the Provenza is right up there with Cortec. Shaw sells excellent stuff you just got a bad batch.
As far as the problem with the socks I think you just need to start wearing slippers or something different. either that or find some of the type of floor that wears out faster. I'd much rather replace socks than replace flooring.
 

highup

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If you have a carpet one store that's within driving distance go check it out. You won't find any place that has a better guarantee. If you pick out the wrong color and aren't happy with it they'll even replace it because you screwed up. But beware you're going to see a lot of Shaw products there.
Sean makes excellent stuff they're probably the biggest flooring manufacturer in the United States.
You had a bad batch of cortec, and that's all. It's a very high quality floor not a cheap product.
No I don't own any carpet one stores. 😁
 
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I haven't read your entire post but don't be concerned about Shaw's quality. It appears they had a lot more problems than just your floor so they were quite aware of it before the inspector arrived.
Cortec is one of the most popular floors out there and I've never heard of a problem like that. Our local carpet one store has been selling that stuff since it's very existence and I've never heard of quality issues with that product it's got a heck of a guarantee.
You might check out a product called Provenza. I'm installing that product now for a customer. I did their kitchen and dining room six right months ago and they're thrilled with the product. All products have pattern repeats but it's often the skill of the installer to place the planks correctly. The installer needs to plan ahead and stagger the lights and the darks and the patterns and the end joints so that nothing lines up in an overly noticeable pattern. Doing that takes a lot of time. Do not cheap out on the labor price.
Quality of the Provenza is right up there with Cortec. Shaw sells excellent stuff you just got a bad batch.
As far as the problem with the socks I think you just need to start wearing slippers or something different. either that or find some of the type of floor that wears out faster. I'd much rather replace socks than replace flooring.
We are looking into Provenza with fingers crossed. Thank you for that suggestion. It really doesn't solve things to just wear slippers. It is also tearing apart our pants when we get up and down with my son and his pants are getting torn up at a ridiculous rate. I had to apologize to my friend whose daughter messed up her pants after one afternoon playing on our floors. It isn't a quality issue. The clothes issue was not part of the defect in the Coretec floor. The defect was the paint coming off the bevel and the corners peeling/chipping. If you get samples of any of their floors with that ultra matte finish it does the same thing. And apparently other brands are doing it too according to the stories we are seeing from other people that are now figuring it out. (And we are getting samples from other brands that we can replicate the problem with.) It is a problem specifically with a lot of LVP that needs to be fixed. Hopefully the people that are realizing it will be vocal and manufacturers will listen.
 
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So far in all of my posts related to this issue the matte finish and problems that I mentioned have been seen with Coretec, Mohawk (and Pergo), Provenza, Flooret, Anderson, and Karndean). This is a widespread issue. And so far Cali Bamboo is still the only one that we've found that doesn't have that matte finish (and a year into it is still not tearing apart our clothes like the Coretec is upstairs). Cali has a terrible pattern repeat in their longboards at least (come on Cali, other companies are doing a much better job at that than you!), but ultimately if we absolutely have to choose between dumb looking pattern repeats and clothes (and skin) shredding, we'll take the repeats any day.
 

highup

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I've installed flooring since '73. The only time I've heard of this was with Wilsonart laminate flooring. They've been out of the flooring business for more than 10 years. The wear guarantees and warranties on these products are incredible. I'm thinking that if the surfaces were shiny they wouldn't have the same wear resistance. Shiny would be easier to mop and take care of if you don't want streaks.
It is surprising to me that this seems to be a 'common' problem. Your issues are the first I've ever heard of it. You've done more research than I have but in the end you need something you're happy with.
 
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Someone from WeShipFloors solved the mystery on another forum! Apparently the matte finish is created by using a roller that has a nap that creates little peaks in the finish just before it is finally cured. The greater and higher the "peaks" the more matte the finish. This HAS to be it. Please flooring manufacturers STOP producing LVP with this finish! Please installers and dealers, let the companies you are partnering with know that this is happening and ask them to update their process to eliminate this problem. It is CLEARLY possible to produce LVP that isn't glossy or slippery AND that also doesn't cause the clothes (and skin!) shredding problem (as evidenced by older LVP that doesn't have the matte finish and by our Cali Bamboo that is less matte (not glossy, just less matte) that isn't tearing up our clothes). My guess is the matte finish is also responsible for the haze problem people complain about with LVP so it will probably solve that issue too (because our matte Coretec does have that issue too and our less matte Cali floors does not have that issue. ) And if you are someone that has recently purchased floors that are doing this to your clothes and skin PLEASE let the manufacturers and the installers know this is happening so they will take it seriously. It would be a simple fix in the industry if they will just pay attention!
 
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@highup I'm not the only one. (See the link above from the woman who recently installed Provenza and there are multiple people on FB now saying that it is happening to them too.) It's a new problem because when we were shopping for LVP about a year and half ago the matte finish on the Coretec floors we unfortunately ended up picking (for the pattern, not for the matte finish) was actually unusual. No other LVP sample we had back then had such an ultra matte finish. Now it is everywhere. We can't get new samples that don't have that finish (so far at least). Except for Cali Bamboo which apparently hasn't started mattifying in the same way. And I'm asking them not to! Right now they are the only ones. My guess is that this is going to start being heard about more in the next year.
 

highup

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I guess you have to look at it like they do. If they put those types of flooring in a million homes and only 20,000 people complain about the abrasiveness..... Then that's what you're working against.
If the process that causes the abrasiveness, makes the floor so durable and slip resistant, then they probably won't see a need to make a smoother finish that's less durable unless there is a lot of demand for it.
If they made all of the same colors and patterns in a material that was smoother or more glossy, that was double the amount of material that they would have to produce and store. I also have two or three color match moldings and end caps for their materials. They would have to double those also.
From what you said, I'm sure they've received a lot of complaints, but there has to be enough complaints to make it benefit them financially to change what they're doing now.
There are far more people that like these products then dislike them.
I think some of the manufacturer might make the old style wood core laminates with a formica type finish. Maybe one of those would work.
Shaw has a hickory floor that has hand hand scraped look. The local carpet one store has had that in the entrance and main part of our showroom for 15 years and it still hasn't worn out. It is real hickory on the surface and has a composite core. It's not something you would wet mop and it's not waterproof, but it's a neat looking floor.
Do you have a Carpet One retailer within driving distance?
 
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@highup We have a Carpet One that is about an hour away. I do appreciate you taking the time to respond thoughtfully and give a recommendation! We do need waterproof though. Incidentally we've tested 17 samples so far from various companies and they all are doing the same thing as our Coretec floor (eventually I'll show this in a video and post it to Youtube.) I don't think it makes the floor more durable to be matte. Our Cali floors are fine after a year. It really seems LVP manufacturers all went to the same conference in the last year where someone recommended this matte finish or they all got the same memo or something. I'm hoping they get my memo and change it back to how it was just a year ago (while keeping the better colors of this year!) I know that is totally unrealistic, and I know they aren't going to care unless there is a critical mass, even if they are made aware of the problem. And I'm guessing the only consumers that will care are those that have kids and are on their floors all day (i.e., likely not a critical mass). I do want them to know. I wish I would've known. I wish someone could have told me (but it wasn't a problem a year ago when most LVP did not have that finish!) I'm sure the mom with the kids whose pants are wearing out within the day and have bloody toes wishes someone would have told her. If I would've posted sooner then maybe she would've seen it!
 

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The only thing harder than what they put in that floor finish for durability is diamonds. Aluminium oxide - Wikipedia
Ouch!
They have reasons for making the finish the way it is and I don't have an answer. Maybe it's hard to create a smooth finish and have aluminum oxide in it and still make the finish consistent from batch to batch.
Since those floors are so realistic a lot of people put a large area rug in a living room area just like you would in a real wood floor. It actually makes the floor look even more real.
A lot more people just walk on the floor than sit or crawl around on the floor, so I'm guessing that's the market that they're selling to.
Once they set up a mill to mass produce a product like this it would be very difficult to have two different finishes, and like I said, they'd have to make two of everything. That just isn't going to happen.
Iwish that I was aware of some of the product, but Cortec around here anyway has blown away the competition for quite a few years.
Seems like if this problem is big enough some smaller company would fill the void.
 

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