Casa de Color Hardwood Flooring Review: Problems with Stain Alignment

February 14, 2011 | by Fred (email) |

Whenever we’re about to undertake a hardwood flooring project, we always turn first to Lumber Liquidators. We’ve found them to be helpful, and we really prefer and recommend their Bellawood product. If you’ve been reading here for some time, you probably remember that we installed more than 1000 sq. ft. of their Bellawood Brazilian Walnut product last Summer in our own home.

A good friend of ours is currently remodeling a townhome rental to get it ready for sale. We recommended he check out the local Lumber Liquidators (official site) in person as they have good prices and we’ve found their customer service to be pretty good. He ultimately selected LL’s Casa de Color product line (a less expensive alternative to Bellawood). Specifically, he picked a medium-tone stained maple hardwood that ran about $3.00/sq. ft.

Upon beginning the installation in the rental, he noticed that the butt joint bevels between the boards looked strange. Some of them were really dark, while others were really light. It didn’t look like the uniform hardwood he had expected.

Upon closer examination, it appears that the cause of the problem is a stain alignment issue on the boards. Take a look at these photos.

Casa de Color Hardwood Flooring Pictures


You can see that the board on the left has a deep black bevel, while the board on the right has a white, unstained bevel. Our best guess is that the machine that applies the stain/sealer wasn’t properly aligned.

Here’s another shot with the boards stacked one-on-top of the next:


And here’s how it looks when the boards are next to one another. You can definitely see the unstained edge in this picture:

casa de color stain alignment white edges

My buddy took the product back to Lumber Liquidators and explained the issue. He had already laid 5 rows before realizing the quality error in the boards. Unfortunately, the store manager there said that everything looked OK to him, and asserted that he would “install this in his own home”. As a result, he would not take the product back.

I was surprised, since our experience with Lumber Liquidators has been very good, and this is clearly a problem with the boards that will be visible on the entire floor. I would not lay this product in my own home and recommended that he try again with the store or corporate.

Update Feb 16, 2011: Our friend took a series of pictures and forwarded them to Lumber Liquidators, who ultimately offered him several resolutions: (1) he keeps all the product and receives a direct credit of a large portion of the cost (about 1/2); (2) he returns the unopened boxes (less than half are unopened at this point) and receives a store credit for the full cost of all materials; or, (3) he returns the unopened boxes and receives a cash refund only for those boxes.

Perhaps the best resolution would have been a full cash refund for returning all the wood whether opened or not. However, we recognize the balance that Lumber Liquidators must strike in this situation. The question is whether or not everyone would view this defect the same way (is it just an annoyance or does it make the hardwoods truly uninstallable – that’s a question that doesn’t have an easy answer). We think the options they propose are reasonably good.

Ultimately, our friend chose to take the discount and to work through the installation the best he could with the defect… this was the most cost effective option for him given the time constraints he faces.

Examine Hardwoods Before You Start Installation

Hardwoods are a rather permanent addition to a house. If you’re taking the DIY route to install a hardwood floor, we highly recommend inspecting the product before you start to lay it down. Check for board uniformity, and if you’ve picked a stained product, make sure the stain adequately covers the whole top of the board and the bevel edges.

We’ll keep this article updated with the final resolution. I am confident that with good pictures that show the problem, it will be more obvious and LL will make it right!

8 Responses
  1. Customer Care says:

    LL Response:

    The claim was assigned to a flooring professional for service, and as mentioned in the article – We worked to reach an amicable solution. The supplier for this line of flooring has few issues on record and all suppliers take problems of this nature seriously taking steps to correct them avoiding a repeat of the problem. The documentation is helpful and allows LL to provide corrective actions to get the project going again.

    This also highlights the need to CHECK PRODUCT BEFORE INSTALLING and this is a good case study on why we ask folks to check first before installing as directed by the warranty and installation instructions. The final quality inspection comes from the customer, so if we see an issue like this we gather photos, samples, and even insect the floor using a third party inspector if necessary supporting the warranty. If a manufacturing problem exists we hold the manufacturer accountable for the defect. We appreciate customers bringing this to our attention to avoid spreading the problem even further.

    In some cases, if the products integrity is not jeopardized we can odd lot the material making it more affordable for others who may not have the budget for higher grade materials, but want a strong wood flooring product. A general fix for this type of issue is to swap out with new material so the project can resume.The manufacturer no longer supports odd lot purchases with a warranty, but that’s the give and take for a lower price when the returned material becomes converted to a lower grade.

    We’re glad we could resolve it to your satisfaction and found the article helpful to educate others on what to do, and what not to do when you venture into flooring installations as a DIY project. Keep in mind we have install pros available by phone from our Technical / Installation group, or Customer Service for some of the more basic needs / questions. How about posting some before and after photos? Well done and thanks for shopping with us!

  2. Fred says:

    Hi LL – Thanks for weighing in on this one… We will definitely post some before and after pictures when the job is finished!

  3. Jennifer says:

    I am about to purchase from LL and I am now hesitating because this return policy. It should not matter if The boxes are open. You CANNOT tell if the product is defective unles you open it. And with flooring some batches come out way darker or lighter. If they do NOT let me return these DEFECTS then I will NOT even consider them and will let anyone considering flooring know about this.

  4. Mike says:

    We are replacing our kitchen and hall flooring with a cherry color hardwood.. We really like the warranty with Bellawood and the stroger finish, however my wife wants a more consistant color look. Bellawood Brazillian Cherry has major light to dark variations from plank to plank as it is natural and unstained. Casa De Colour’s Malaccan Cherry is stained and therefor more consistant in the red color, but is not as durable as Bellawood. How resistant is the Casa product to scratching? Is there a better “red” floor out there THAT IS DURABLE?


    • Fred says:

      Mike, the only other thing I know of is bloodwood, but it’s also a natural red. Your best bet is probably to lay something unstained, like white oak or maple, and then stain it red and seal it yourself.

  5. TrudiAronica says:

    I had my hardwood by case de color installed by a professional installer recommended by LL. Before a year I noticed beveling in the floors. Due to having been out of town , by the time I notified the installer, they said they were only covered for a year and they were not responsible. I sent pictures and purchase information to lLL’s main office since the local office said they were not responsible. I also sent the moisture report. LL told me I had to get an independent inspector. I found out that this would cost me $600.00. I cannot afford to do this. I guess I’m stuck with a bad floor.

  6. Leslie says:

    Jennifer, those are my thoughts exactly! The LL Customer Care Representative went out of her way to come here and emphasize in BOLD lettering the need to check your materials prior to installation to avoid problems of this sort…well, please explain to me what good that will do when checking the materials requires that you actually open the boxes, hence, deeming them unreturnable? That doesn’t make a bit of sense. I was actually going to go into my local LL store on Tuesday to acquire a sample that I found on their website, and subsequently place what would have amounted to a pretty decent-sized order after matching it to what we currently have, but thanks to the illogical explanation given by LL up above, I will definitely be taking my business elsewhere! Thank goodness I found this article!

  7. rox benavides says:

    I did not see the harm in installing the defective wood and getting a refund later. It does not work like that. Check lumber liquidators complaints online and they will not honor any warranties it appears. There will always be a problem from humidity to installed wrong to hundreds of other reason.

    Everything is fine and dandy until you try to use the warranty. The warranty is useless and since the warranty states you can’t install it if it is defective, you are pretty much out of it. I just needed a floor once it was demo’d

    My advice check every single peice before you demo the floor. Mine was warped, all different sizes — a real mess but I just ate 2,000. Better than the thousands other people spent.

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