Bob Bein, the salesman for Empire Today LLC, made several claims regarding the performance of their laminate flooring. We told him we had dogs; in fact, the dogs were under food. We shared with him our concern about 2 dog-related issues: 1) scratches from the dogs nails, and 2) moisture (if you catch my drift). Bob said that the laminate flooring was very resistant to scratches and dents. He said the floor would not dent even if we dropped a pot on it. He also said that the boards were tested under water and did not de-laminate. We asked him what we should use to clean the floor and he said that we should go on to Empire's website.
Bob, also told us the boards were random length and that each board was unique (a different pattern from all the others).
The floor was laid the next day. As the floor was being laid we noticed an oily film on the floor. We asked the installers about this and they said that the film should come up after cleaning. I asked them what we should use to clean the floor and they said just water. The boards were not random length. There were only 5 different boards. The installers laid them so that identical boards were laid next to each other with 8 inch offsets. This gave the floor a bizarre diagonal pattern.
The day after the floor was laid I set out to clean the oil film off the floor, because it looked terrible and left footprints everywhere you walked. I went on Empire's website to look for cleaning instructions. On the webpage titled "Laminate Flooring – Subhead Maintenance" it advises me to vacuum frequently or to use a dust mop. On the webpage titled "Cleaning" there are no recommendations. Well, I know that vacuuming or dustmoping will not remove an oily film, so I used water. I put tap water in a spray bottle and moped with a microfiber dust mop putting only a minimal amount of water on the floor. It didn't do any good. The floor still looked terrible and where ever you stepped you left a footprint in the oily film.
In the next few days I tried various things to clean. I thought that maybe the fact that our tap water has both chlorine and fluoride in it might have something to do with it, So I cleaned the floor again with filtered water (no chlorine, no fluoride). It still didn't look any better. So I went online and Googled ways to clean laminate flooring. Several people recommended 1 cup of vinegar in a gallon of water, so I tried that. That didn't work. Other people recommended equal parts of water, alcohol and vinegar, so I tried that. That didn't work. To this day I have found nothing that will clean the only film off the floor.
Exactly 5 days and 1 hour after the floor was installed we notice that several boards were starting to bubble up on the edges. The lamination was coming apart. By this time we were quite frustrated with this floor and decided we just didn't want it.
I called Empire. After a lot of trouble (customer service offers no customer service), I was finally able to speak with Rebecca Clark, the National Customer Service Manager. I told her my complaints and she said she would send out an independent flooring inspector.
Between that telephone call and the inspection we noticed more boards becoming de-laminated in addition to several dents (we have not dropped anything on the floor). In fact, every week that goes by we find more boards coming delaminated.
The inspector came and did his thing. I asked him how to clean the floor and he said to use a half cup of ammonia to 2 gallons of water. So after he left I tried that solution, but that was the worst of all!
Empire has offered to replace the damaged boards but has offered no assistance or advice on how to clean the oily film off the floor. More boards are becoming delaminated every week. We can not live with a floor that is constantly needing to have boards replaced or a floor that looks terrible because it can't be cleaned. We believe the floor is doubly defective.
We have filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General and have file a civil law suit (small claims) against Empire for the cost of the floor ($5900).
People who were NOT helpful:
Bob Bein (Salesman)
Rebecca Clark (National Customer Service Manager) 888-588-2315
Steve Silvers (CEO) 847-583-3000
Product or Service Mentioned: Empire Today Flooring.
Monetary Loss: $5900.