New Hardwood Floor Slope in Old Home

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biergoat

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Oct 10, 2021
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Fort Collins, Colorado
Hello, I am in need of professional advice. We have a new hardwood Ash floor that was installed in our kitchen, our home is just over 100 years old. Approximately one half of the kitchen floor is in the older part of the home, the other in a more recent (40 years ago) renovation with newer joists and subfloor. Before demo, the entire floor had 12 by 12 tile on it that was flat with no cracks or lippage over the transition between the two subfloors. During demo, the tile and substrate were removed every where, and the old subfloor (3/4 fir and 3/4 by 10 skip lath) was removed in the old section only, down to the joists. At this point the old joists were 1.5 inches lower than the sub-floor in the newer reno. The contractor then built up the old section to meet the newer subfloor by adding 3/4 by 2" shims across all the old joists, then added 3/4 tongue and groove OSB sheets to the entire area, bringing it to the same plane as the newer subfloor, at least it appeared that way after install.
The flooring company came in and installed the new harwood ash floor after delaying the install due to moisture difference that the contactor was able to address. The remodel proceeded after the floor was covered up with ramboard, cabinets went in etc. It was not until about a month after the floor install that I discovered that the new kitchen island had been shimmed up just over 1" on the side that landed in the older area of the kitchen, the other side of the island was flat on the newer area.
That's the long story, the short story is that we have a slope in the finished floor of 5/8 an inch over 2 feet, or 2.6% and another area of 3/4 inch over 15 inches, or 3.3%, and other variations of this slope, along one line that is the transition line between the 2 subfloors. Sadly, the drop in height happens to be directly in front of the new stove and refrigerator. The slope also changed the relative height of the cabinets and look of the cabinet feet due to areas that are shimmed up by 1".
No issues were called out during install, and no-one ever mentioned the slope in the floor, and no-one can answer any questions about why the new floor was installed with a slope like this. I understand with an old home that we will not have a perfectly level floor, but this seems to be something that there was opportunity to address or call our before the new floor was installed. In fact, the floor transition was on the same plane prior to demo. I'd like to know if this is an acceptable slope. The flooring installer is a member of the NWFA and as such should follow the guidelines for subfloor and finished floor flatness. I called attention to this with our contractor and the flooring company and they say it is flat. I am considering tear out and re-install that would result in 2-3 more months of work (we are in month 5 BTW), and possibly more issues that could surface. I have a 5 year guarantee from the contractor on everything, and they say, they will go beyond that as we are now a lifetime customer (most will agree that they are the best contractor in the area). Any advice is appreciated, thanks for listening!
 

Mark Brown

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Are you certain that your old floor was on plane and not just brought level at the point of intersection??

Sounds to me like they did not level their joists properly to the height of the "plane" of the new addition and just added the height difference along the joist which would then just mirror any slope that use to exist that was hidden by mud bed and tile.

When you lay a 10 foot level down over the new/old section, I assume this is where the floor begins to fall off correct??

NWFA calls for 1/4 in 10 feet last that I recall but it has been some time since I have read over the specifications but if you like I will pull them for you. I paid for access to the newest guidelines about 2 years ago and it wouldnt hurt to get my moneys worth.

As for addressing it, well first we need to make sure we know what the problem is but I think you already know what is going on and how it will need to be fixed.
 

biergoat

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Oct 10, 2021
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Fort Collins, Colorado
IMG_8367.JPG

I think the photo above does a better job of explaining this. This is a 48 inch level, it is level, the back of the level is on the newer addition subfloor, the other end is off the floor at least 3/4 inches. The old sub floor did meet the back on the same plane, or so it appeared. The specifications you cite here are correct, this is much worse, a 3/4 slope in a span oof 30 inches. Do the specs. apply to a remodel in an old home? What is considered "good workmanship" in this case? Thanks for your help!
 

Mark Brown

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That I just a really shoddy job by your contractor to maintain the same plane between the two generations of construction.

How far onto the "new" section are you in that photograph?

It is impossible to tell which end is out of plane with the building, forget that level bubble... as much as it is a nice thought. I am willing to bet it is the old, sure. Typically what happens I when additions are built people miss the joist placement by a bit, carry on anyhow an voila, we have what you have.

It is stupid easy to fix when you are down to joists, not so much after the fact. Its just sloppy work... that is unless it ties into something else that could not be adjusted, I dont see how that could be seeing your story but I dont have all the details.
 

biergoat

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Fort Collins, Colorado
The right side of the photo shows the level on the back floor, that is the edge of the newer area (40 year old reno with plywood subfloor) underneath. The left side of the photo shows the level hovering over the older section, the area that was torn out to the joists then built up with 3/4" shims on top of the joists and another 3/4" OSB over it. Here is a picture of the 2 subfloors before the new hardwood went over them.
 

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C.J.

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What does your contract say? Is the GC responsible for leveling out the floor? If the GC subbed out the hardwood, the GC is still the one you talk to since that’s likely who you have a signed contract with. We need more details before we can say who gets pushed under the bus.
 
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