I renovated my entire 3-story Victorian, which included hardwood install throughout (approx 1300 sq ft). The estimator was professional and the staff very accommodating to our schedule. Even the installers were quite good (when it came to certain aspects of the install), and the Mirage product is beautiful. Still, the final result is a disaster. Miscommunication between the estimator and the installers, bad “big picture” planning by the installers, and a failure to stop when there was a problem (instead of forging ahead) would be the perfect storm that resulted in the mess I was left with.
On the 3rd floor: Though the installation was quite good, the installers did not “ramp up” the wood to meet the tile of the bathroom, as the estimator said they would, and as he wrote in marker at the threshold to the bathroom. I wasn’t told there would be a problem. In fact, I was represented that there wouldn’t be a problem. As I said, they told me they would use cardboard under the wood to simply ramp it up to meet the threshold. But they didn’t, and I do have a problem. There is a ¼ inch exposed ledge of tile where the two floorings meet. I’ve never received an explanation as to why they did not do as marked by the estimator. I still don’t have a decent remedy to the problem.
On the 2nd floor: The 2nd floor is on two levels. One room and landing is on one level. A single step up from the landing to the main hallway and all the other rooms off of it is the second level. You can see down the full length of the entire house across both levels. We were told by the estimator that the installers would run the hardwood down the full length of the house to create a line from which all the rest of the installation would run. Makes sense.
Instead, the installers treated each level as a separate job that they did on separate days. They didn’t seem to even consider that visually it is one large expanse. Because I have an old house that was initially renovated back in the 80’s, there is a mix of old and new. Some of the walls and the stairwells are not perfectly square or plumb. They picked one wall (that veers a bit to the south) as their start point for the first board on one level of the 2nd floor, and picked the stairwell (that veers fairly noticeably to the north) as their start point for the install on the other level of this single, visually continuous job. The result? The boards ran off in markedly different directions as you look down the length of the 2nd floor. Friends and neighbours were shocked how bad it looked and how poorly the 2nd floor job was planned. Why didn’t they find a “line” that would work for both levels, even if it meant “splitting the difference” between the two lines they chose? Why didn’t they find a single line down the middle; as the estimator said they would do?
In fairness, Wally the owner came by, and they agreed to take up the floor on one of the 2 levels and run it more in line with the other level. A big job, and I appreciated it. BUT, the 2 levels still do not run in the same direction (that’s how far they were off initially), so the 2nd floor is still a big disappointment.
On the 1st floor: This is the worst. The subfloor was in bad shape, so our contractor laid ply over it. It still wasn’t perfectly level, but it’s an old house and I don’t mind it everything isn’t perfectly level. As they say, it’s part of the “character.” What isn’t OK is a floor that is “bumpy” or “wavy,” like a wrinkled shirt, and that’s what I ended up with. The estimator examined the subfloor and generally seemed fine with it, although he did point out a couple of high spots that would need sanding and one low spot where the installers would use a bit of cardboard (he wrote the word “cardboard” with black marker directly on the subfloor in the one spot). He expressly said that cork would not be used because it had “hard edges” that might “telegraph,” especially with the thinner 11 ml product we were using. Well, the installers did use cork in more than one spot (and more than one layer in some spots), and they spent a lot of time sanding in other areas. I don’t know it they “over-engineered” their prep work, but according to my contractor who was on site while they were there, they seemed very frustrated with the job but forged ahead anyway. The result? When I got home I had an expanse of floor over my open concept living/dining/ kitchen that looks like a wrinkled shirt. It’s a mess. And a few boards sink when you step on them. I don’t even understand how that can happen with tongue and groove.
I just want to know why this happened? Was the subfloor not good enough? If not, why weren’t we told? We could have done some remediation. Was the 11 ml product not the right product for the 1st floor? If not, we could have gone with ¾” solid on that level (the Mirage product came in both). Why did the installers use cork instead of cardboard, as the estimator warned against? What else could we have done? We were willing to work with them to make it right.
I’ve never received answers to these questions. They are the professionals. They represented that they could do the job. They didn’t identify any major concerns. Yet the result is a mess. The installers apparently knew the result wasn’t going to be good (as reflected in their frustration), but they didn’t stop and call Darmaga to discuss how to proceed. Instead, they forged ahead knowing it was going to be a mess. I spoke to Wally, but no one ever came by to see the 1st floor install. Wally didn’t really have answers to my questions (How could he? He didn’t see the subfloor, and he didn’t see the install.)
On all three floors of my house (my beautiful, old Victorian – lovingly renoed throughout), I see hardwood that makes me upset and sad. At this point, I am looking at either having someone come in and redo the floors on all 3 levels, or move. I’m tired of being constantly reminded of the mess at every turn. It’s on every level. There’s no respite. Not only can I not recommend Darmaga, I’m finding it hard to forgive.