Structural Warranty – This is the most common warranty offered. These warranties will guarantee that the milling, grade, and moisture content of the hardwood has been manufactured within industry-approved standards, and that the planks are stable, sound, and will not crack, split, or warp when correctly installed. Many major hardwood flooring brands offer a ‘Lifetime Structural Warranty’ on their products, that may include both unfinished and factory finished flooring materials.
Structural warranties often detail specific flooring preparation and installation guidelines that have to be followed in order to validate the warranty. In some cases, only installation by a flooring industry professional will be acceptable. Many manufacturers also require the installer to use specified installation accessories as part of their warranty conditions. It is also vital that the installer closely follow any specified sub-floor preparation instructions, as this is often one of the major no-no’s that will be used to invalidate a ‘Lifetime Structural Warranty’.
Finishing Warranty - As the name suggests, this type of warranty covers the finish or polyurethane coating on factory-finished hardwoods. It guarantees that this finish will not wear off under regular use. A ‘Residential Finish Warranty’ applies to standard residential use, while a ‘Commercial Finish Warranty’ will cover use in a commercial setting like an office, hotel, motel, or restaurant. Finishing warranties almost always place a time limit on the number of years that the warranty will remain in force. The industry normal for a ‘Residential Finish Warranty’ is around 25 years. ‘Commercial Finish Warranties’, however, will remain in force for fewer years, because the product is exposed to higher foot traffic than found in the average residential setting.
It is good to remember that finishing warranties tend to offer more coverage than they actually provide. Case in point: A finishing warranty will not cover scratches, dents, or other damage to the finish that results from moisture; or dragging heavy furniture or other objects across the floor, since these are the main causes of most damage to hardwood flooring’s surface finishing.