There are many different warranties available from many different manufacturers. Most of these warranties apply to pre-finished engineered and solid wood floors. It would be impossible to list them all but we will explain some of the more common warranties and what they mean to you.
This warranty covers the structural integrity of the wood floor. Most major manufacturers now a days give a lifetime structural warranty. This warranty basically states that the wood floor won't come apart or "de-laminate" if it is an engineered/laminated wood floor. Nowadays, most all wood floors come with a lifetime structural warranty.
If a wood floor is a glue-down product, it is important that you have bond warranty. This warranty is usually only valid if you use the manufacturers' recommended adhesive. The warranty is usually based in part on the adhesive as well. Some manufacturers will state you can only use their brand name adhesives, while others will give you a list of acceptable adhesives. We highly recommend that you follow these guidelines exactly.
This warranty is usually the same as, combined with, or directly effected by the bond warranty mentioned above. In most cases it refers to moisture getting up into the wood floor from the sub-floor. In some cases it may refer to how well a wood floor finish deflects moisture.
If it is a solid wood floor and not an engineered/laminated wood floor, this warranty is usually valid only if you apply the correct moisture barrier, such as a plastic sheeting, prior to the installation. Some warranties specify that you perform a moisture test prior to doing the installation, and use correct adhesive.
The moisture test methods vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and usually apply to concrete sub-floors. These warranties usually range from five years and up.
There are more types of wear warranties than any other. They can range from no warranty at all, to a lifetime warranty, and cover a wide scope of problems. Some of the wear warranties refer to wearing of the finish, while others refer to the actual wearing of the wood itself, while still others are a combination of both.
We can tell you that unless you're purchasing a very thin or very soft product, the wood itself seldom wears away. It is really the finish you need to be concerned with. If the finish is not of good quality, you will have many problems, and unexpected maintenance costs in the future. For example, if you purchase an engineered/laminated wood floor that can only be refinished a limited amount of times, and you don't have a good finish on that product, you will be seriously cutting down the life of that floor.
Certain wood floors have warranties that apply specifically to commercial use and some only apply to residential use. It is important that you select a wood floor with the appropriate warranty to fit your specific needs. Wood floors with warranties that apply to commercial applications are usually constructed to withstand heavy traffic on a constant basis.
NOTE: As a foot note, keep some things in mind when reviewing warranties. Warranties sometimes contain language that can be confusing or misleading. For example, there are some key words you need to understand. If a warranty states that a wood floor is dent or scratch "resistant," this means it was constructed to resist dents or scratches, it does not mean it is dent or scratch "proof." Some of the warranties that cover wear may be based on a time period such as a "five-year wear warranty."
It is important that you review these warranties to see what specific clauses may apply. For example, it may have a percentage clause where it states the finish won't wear more than 10% in the first year, 20% in the second year, and so on. If it did wear within those mentioned tolerances, then according to that warranty, it would be considered "normal wear."
Sometimes these type of warranties also have a percentage built in to them on the claim end as well. For example, if there is a problem with the wood floor after the first year, then you will be allowed a 90% replacement reimbursement, after the second year a 80% replacement reimbursement, etc. In addition, some of the warranties cover only the replacement of the product and no allowance for labor.
Our experience has been that if you stay with one of the major manufacturers such as BRUCE, KAHRS, AWARD, ANDERSON, MANNINGTON, HARTCO, HARRIS-TARKETT, ROBBINS, MIRAGE, UNIVERSAL, etc., and you purchase one of their medium to better products, then you can usually be comfortable in the fact that you are properly covered if there is a problem.
Obviously almost all of these warranties will be void if the installation is not performed correctly. In addition, any wood floor that is labeled a "cabin grade," "second quality," or any other term that labels it to be other than first quality material, will usually carry no warranty whatsoever.