This news piece had escaped me recently. Read the thorough explanation below. It is good to be informed. Someone on the front line of this topic will have valuable information to contribute that you may want to research and consider, too. Thanks to the Flooring Girl always keeps us informed on the latest flooring trends and topics!
By now, I'm sure most of you have heard about the 60 Minutes Investigation of Lumber Liquidators. If not, you can watch the video below or click above link to the original piece by Anderson Cooper. This has been blasted all over the news and online. I have had so many people ask me about this - EVERYDAY this week.
If you have missed this story, or if you want to hear in more depth, here it is. This info may come in handy for you and/or your clients. In this article I discuss recommendations on buying future flooring (to avoid issues), some suggestions on how to handle things if you do have their flooring and are concerned, as well as advice for real estate agents to help their buyers and sellers.
The report shows that their laminate products have dangerously high levels of formaldehyde, a known cancer causing carcinogen.
60 Minutes investigation on Lumber Liquidators
This story saddens me, but I can't say that I'm surprised. Lumber Liquidators prices are so low that you many suspicious, including many investors. How could they get/make their products so cheap? How could they increase their profit margins so much, especially with such low prices? It does sound too good to be true.
I've always known that their products were inferior. You usually do "get what you pay for." What I have seen is products that are thin/flimsy, poorly milled and often delaminate. So, we avoided installing these floors. I had no idea, though, that they are (or appear) to be dangerous to your health.
Lumber Liquidators stock price plummeted this week. Not only is there a class action lawsuit against them, but now, after all of this uproar, the government is launching a federal investigation. While this currently only involves laminate flooring, I would not be surprised if these investigations find issues with their engineered wood flooring and bamboo.
We do NOT install this flooring. Furthermore, on Monday/Tuesday, our manufacturers proactively re-issued reports confirming that they are CARB compliant. I believe that most, if not all, of the hardwood and laminate we sell is milled and manufactured in the US/Canada, but I am in the process of confirming this before I make such a definitive statement (it is possible that there may be a few exotic products that are from outside US). We do not sell nor install Chinese manufactured wood nor laminates.
60 Minutes and the New Agencies have spread the word on this sad and scary story. So, now the question is, So what should we? Should we worry?
First, the truth is no one knows for sure. And, it's too soon to tell what (if any) settlement will be made. But, I believe most would rather take a safe than sorry approach, especially when it comes to their health and their family's health.
What should you do if you are going to buy new flooring?
1. I would recommend buying from local and trustworthy flooring stores.
2. If possible, and if you can afford it, go for solid hardwood. Solid hard does not use these adhesives (and it's usually the preferred option anyway).
3. Buy products from the US (or Canada). This is good for our economy, too, so a win win.
4. Buy wood (or laminate) from reputable manufacturers. Some of those include (but are not limited to) Shaw, Armstrong, US Floors, Mohawk, Wickham, Somerset, Mirage. You can go visit their websites and look for their certifications and make sure they are CARB compliant (or call their 1-800 #).
What should you do if have Lumber Liquidators Laminate?
This is a toughie...there may not be a simple solution here. And, some of options may cost money. There are no "easy answers."
1. You may be able to eventually get Lumber Liquidators to replace your floors (or pay for the rip up and replacement)...it is unclear if/when this will happen...but, my guess is that this will get dragged out for a long time. I would definitely keep all receipts of past purchases/installations as well as anything you may do going forward related to this. I wish there was a clear answer here, but as of today, there is not. Personally, if it was me, I wouldn't wait.
2. You can get your flooring independently tested by an air quality test (using formaldehyde monitors). Note: these tests can be vary and cost and may be costly. Also, it doesn't guarantee that there won't be future issues. Home testing kits can be unreliable so you are best off calling and environmental engineer. (you can learn a bit more here)
3. Remove the flooring - either do it yourself or hire someone to do it. (save receipts). This may be the safest option for those that prefer a better safe than sorry approach. You can choose if you replace the floors or leave them bare based on funding and waiting to see what happens in the case(s).
4. Ventilate the room (s) as much as possible. Remove all furniture and items. Seal the rooms/Put plastic and tape on the doors and open the windows. The longer the better - I have not yet found guidelines on how long to do this.
5. Encapsulate the floor by putting carpet on top of it. Doing this in conjunction with Ventilation can help. Of course, removing the flooring in question is a better option. If you pursue this option, use wall to wall carpeting with a good quality carpet padding (not an area rug).
What should you do if you are a real estate agent (and you are trying to help your clients)?
1. Inform them - objecively, of course. Please note that this does not mean that all laminate flooring is bad/dangerous. But, there definitely are questions about those made by some manufacturers and those imported from China.
2. If you are the buyer's agent and you notice laminate flooring, ask the listing agent to find out from the seller where they bought the laminate flooring and which manufacturer it is. If it's one that's questionable, you MAY use this as a CONSIDERATION in the offer (or negotiation process).
3. If you are the listing agent, and your seller has laminate flooring, be proactive and ask them about where they bought it, when and which manufacturer it's from. It's better to know this than to get caught off guard later in the negotiation process.
4. If you are the listing agent (or stager) and your client is going to be adding laminate flooring to help stage or prep the home, recommend that they use a reputable manufacturer/local store and buy US made.
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. I'm saddened by this. I think this is another reason why people should consider that cheaper isn't usually better...it definitely has risks. In the long run, this will help keep the industry to higher standards.
Lumber Liquidators health scare - The hot topic for my week
Debbie Gartner, "The Flooring Girl" and owner of Floor Coverings International, Westchester NY
Angie's List Super Service Award winners for 4 years in a row.
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