We have all seen, bid on, measured, installed in or inspected one. Some of you may even live in one: a brilliantly designed, beautifully crafted, newly constructed custom home. No track home in a crowded subdivision is this, no sir! We are talking about a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, the type of structure architectural students study in class.

Here we have the kitchen area of such a residence, six months after the home was completed. Photos 1-5 show the general layout, and provide a good look at the problem with the floor covering.

There was no problem with the installation during the summer months. But when winter arrives, this perimeter-bonded vinyl flooring appears to grow and grow. Keep in mind that the floor covering was installed prior to the island, cabinets and appliances. So, what do you think?

Can You Make the Call?

What could cause this, and how might you go about fixing it. Remember, there was no problem during the summer months, when the air conditioning ran almost constantly. Winter comes, the heat goes on, and presto, Houston, we have a problem.

Photos 5 and 6 may offer a clue. Yes, that is a thermometer on the floor and, yes, it is in front of a heat register outlet. What you may not know is that the outlet is the first vent off the furnace, and the temperature at that outlet is more than 90 degrees (Photo 7). When the faceplate is removed from the register (Photo 8), there is no duct work from the floor to the front of the cabinet. The air is simply entering the area under the cabinet base, filling it, then exiting out through the faceplate cutout. The duct work that comes up through the floor appears to have been installed after the floor was installed, but before the cabinets were put in place.

If this was a full-spread adhesive install, the problem of bubbling may not have occurred. However, discoloration would appear in almost any sheet vinyl due to heat this extreme.

But this floor has no discoloration (at least, not yet), only a few extra square feet than it really needs. Here are the main reasons for the problem: adhesive should have been used around the duct opening, and the air vent should have been plumbed through the cabinet base with sheet metal. Additionally, the layout for the cabinets and alcoves should have been full-spread to ensure an even, dimensional expansion and contraction of the perimeter floor covering. What started as a relatively easy wall-to-wall install will now require a considerable number of hours to repair or replace.

How would you fix this? I’m leaning toward a floating-floor system. What about you?