Floor specifications

A contractor in Pennsylvania installed new subflooring and a linoleum floor in my kitchen and there are issues. There is a “lump” (2-feet across, 8 feet long) in front of a door with a pitch of ~2 inches per ten feet as you move across the kitchen. We had hired a carpenter they recommended to replace a spot in the plywood where that lump is now seen. After he patched the plywood, their team okayed it and put down subfloor and linoleum, giving us the 2" every ten foot pitch. The sent an inspector from their company who indicated (on the sly) had “elevated floor joists” where the lump is that probably should have been leveled before the second team put down the sub-floor. The compnay sent a letter stating that the floor joists were the issue, the floor pitch was not their problem and that they would cut the legs of our kitchen table so it would no longer wobble, if we wanted them to.

Are there specifications or code for the pitch of a floor that state they should not have laid the floor until the joist/subfloor issue was resolved ?



Unfortunately I am not aware of any adopted codes that specifically limit a floor’s flatness, only the amount of allowable deflection under load. Even if there was such a code it may not have been adopted in your area.

The issue that you have could possibly fall under the linoleum manufacturers requirements for floor flatness. You would need to check the manufacturers WEB site for their required or recommended installation practicies. For example Armstrong does specify a recommendation for floor flatness when installaing their products. Armstrong subscribes to the National Association Of Home Builders ( www.nahb.or ) construction standards for floor flatness. You can see Armstrong’s statement at http://www.floorexpert.com/armstrong/fpoxpert.nsf . I do not have access to NAHB material and possibly another NACHI member can help us with that.

Your issue is definitely a case of poor workmanship on the part of the installers. Prior to their work they could have quickly and easily have used either a laser level or long manual level and checked for these type of conditions. From what you described they would have felt it just walking across the floor. With that in mind, yes they should have made you aware of the issue before they moved any further in the process so it could have been corrected.

Many times the company you purchase your flooring from will use sub-contractors and they might not keep track of the quality of their work. Their tracking methods only come as a result of customers expressing their concerns. Hopefully you paid by credit card or some other method of credit that would allow you to dispute the charges.

The National Association of Home Builders’ Residential Construction Performance Guidelines Third Edition says:

3-3-2 uneven subfloor…Subfloors shall not have more than a ¼ inch ridge or depression within any 32-inch measurement…

3-3-4 wood floor out of level…The floor should not slope more than ½-inch in 20 feet. (Crowns that meet standards of the grading organization for that grade and species are not defects.)


When one looks at the 1/2" in twenty, it seems acceptable for a variation on the levelness of a floor, but what if one has a house where the kitchen is 40’ wide. 1" would then seem out of the acceptable factor for the Client that paid ? $1,000,000 for a House that size.

Are we talking an existing or new dwelling?
I am open to standards and curious how and who established them and in which part of the Country.

Commercially, 1" out of level, would show up somewhere other than the eye. Something would be enhanced even more by that 1" out of level. If you follow what I mean.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Henry, if the rest of the floor is flat and one area is sloped 2" in 10 feet for 8 feet, then you must have a ledge in the middle of the floor somewhere. Also, you seem to be saying they laid subfloor over plywood. Subfloor is plywood. Do you mean underlayment over plywood? You pull up that underlayment, you’re going to find a piece of scrap or something someone left on top of the subfloor and whoever layed the subfloor was sloppy and sheathed right over it. You didn’t pay these people did you?

New construction…

Hi. Larry.

With todays’ technology of tools available, I guess I would have a hard time to accept a floor of a house in new construction that is off of level by 1".

Usually, when the floor is out by 1" out of level, that means that the foundation is out by the same amount, and by golly, that 1" will most likely be felt all the way up to the roof.

That one inch has to disappear somewheres and it dosen’t. It will crop up on you at doors and windows, trim, siding, and overhang mouldings. If one sets his windows to a laser height it will then be noticeable on the siding reveals above and below the windows.
If the floors are out of level by an inch, so are the top plates of the walls and the roof.

1" out of level for a house 28’ wide would be noticeable, but obviously, a house that is 35’ to 45’ wide, the levelness might not be as pronounced and noticeable.

I would simply note it as such and move on I guess, there is not much you can do about it other than point it out.

Just my thoughts.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Oh, I agree.

That is just what the NAHB guidelines are.

Plus they state in the Scope of the Construction performance Guidelines that: "Although many contractors build to tighter tolerances, this is a collection of minimum performance criteria and should be interpreted as such."

Thanks Larry;

I guess this makes me pay more attention to something I never realized before, MINIMUM I guess some people thrive in doing just that as long as it brings in the green backs.
It appears to be sad that people would stoop to bare minimums just to pocket money for their well behalf.
Isn’t this what it all means?

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

With some, it is all they can do.

Uncle Bill excavates and sets the grade to top of footings. Uncle Bob shoots, digs and sets the form boards a little off. Cousin Jimmy lays the blocks and gets a little further off and young Frankie, the brother in law, frames the floor in 2 hours and gets a little further off.

At this point the floor is easily an inch out of level and it probably is good that all the studs come pre cut or it would get worse as the walls were built.

You get my drift…:smiley:

I do Larry, and it is pretty sad in my book.
Sure don’t work that way around here, and thank God for that.

I guess people here are fewer, and have more respect in the work they do, for if they don’t they will run out of work pretty quick.
Word of mouth in this State is more efficient than the local paper. ha. ha.

Work ethics and pride might be a little better also than the southern states.
Like Carl told me once, the biggest problem is they don’t speak English. ha. ha. :wink:

Thanks for the input.

Marcel :slight_smile: