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Bad for Business: The Case Against Lumber Liquidators

Hardwood flooring is one of the most important parts of a home. People need to be able to trust that the product under their feet is well made, durable, and safe. After all generations of one family can be raised on top of quality hardwood floors, both solid and engineered. For decades, the public blindly trusted the industry to provide them a safe and durable product, but recently that trust has been shattered.

The hardwood flooring industry took a major hit when it was discovered recently that the very popular Lumber Liquidators chain of stores across the United States and Canada were allegedly selling products that were made and sourced in China that were, in essence, endangering the lives of the people that purchased their product.

Here is the issue: Lumber Liquidators buys cheap engineered hardwood flooring products from factories in China. These factories are governed by profit and in order to turn a profit they resort to using low quality glues and varnishes that are used in the making of engineered hardwood floors. These floors are then shipped to Lumber Liquidators stores and are then purchased by unaware customers simply looking for a good deal. The issue with cheap glues and varnishes is that they are bad for your health.

Cheap glues and varnishes contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Once the bad floors are installed in your house, the formaldehyde slowly gets released into the air, and you the homeowner, unknowingly breathe it in. Both Health Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency regulate the use of formaldehyde in all products, ensuring that if it is used in a product that it does not exceed 0.016 parts per million (ppm). At concentrations above 0.1 ppm in air formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes, may cause headaches, a burning sensation in the throat, difficulty breathing, and can trigger or aggravate asthma symptoms. Some studies even found that levels lower than 0.1 ppm cause irritation and it has also been linked to the development of childhood asthma. This is just in the short term. When speaking of long-term exposure, formaldehyde has been linked to nasal sinus cancers, leukemia, and lung cancer.

The problem was not only that Lumber Liquidators was selling these products with emissions that in some cases tested 350% above the allowable formaldehyde limits set by the North American and European standards, but they were also mislabeling their products, claiming that they met the standards and were safe. Some products were even labeled made in Canada or the USA and were in fact from China.

Luckily for consumers someone noticed that Lumber Liquidators was selling these products and in 2014 filed a lawsuit against them. Naturally the company has categorically denied all allegations and said its flooring “meets relevant environmental standards and undergoes rigorous, independent, third-party testing, including those pertaining to formaldehyde emissions.”

During a recent episode of CBS 60 Minutes, they had several flooring samples from Lumber Liquidator stores across the United States independently tested and the level of formaldehyde of all Chinese made products far exceeded legal limits.

Despite all evidence Lumber Liquidators continues to deny any wrongdoing and has not stopped selling these products in its stores.

We here at the Hardwood Flooring Stores can guarantee that we do every in power to ensure that all products sold in our stores are safe. We are constantly in talks with manufacturers to ensure that every single board sold to our customers lives up to their claims and when they don’t, we don’t sell them. The damage caused by Lumber Liquidators to the hardwood flooring industry is severe and we are doing everything in our power to return some faith in the people you must trust to ensure your home is indeed happy and healthy.

60 Minutes with links to follow up stories.

Lawsuit information