Troubleshooting

For the Customer:

How to Spot and Avoid Trouble with your Hardwood Floors

In a comfortable home, with slight humidity variations through the seasons, wood flooring responds by expanding and contracting.  These changes may be noticeable.  During warm, humid weather, wood expands. During dry weather, wood contracts.  This seasonal movement is a normal characteristic of wood flooring and it never stops regardless of the age of the wood.  One of the best ways to ensure that wood flooring will give the performance homeowners expect is to install humidity controls and ensure that they are functioning before the flooring is installed.

Working with Humidity Controls

A homeowner who chooses hardwood flooring is making an investment in a floor that will last 40 years or more, and he or she should protect that investment by installing humidity controls.  Tools that help the floor maintain a beautiful, trouble-free appearance.

Cracks and Separations Between Boards

Nearly every floor endures some separation between boards.  In winter, when homes are heated and the air is dry, wood flooring gives up some of its moisture and therefore shrinks.  When that happens, thin cracks appear between the boards.  This is normal, and homeowners should be forewarned of this.  It is acceptable, and customers should not be calling the installers at the first sign of cracks.  Once the indoor heat goes off in the spring, and the indoor environment regains moisture, most of these cracks will close up.

Cracks in the winter, in the drier months, may easily develop to the thickness of a dime (1/32″) for solid 2-1/4″ wide strip oak floors.  Floors with light stained woods and naturally light woods, like maple, tend to show cracks more than darker, wood-tone finished floors.

The cure for cracks?  Homeowners should add moisture to the air during dry periods.  It is their choice; live with the cracks and wait until spring, or else add humidity by opening the dishwasher after a rinse cycle, switching off the bathroom fan or hanging laundry to dry in the basement near the furnace.  Better yet, install a humidifier in the furnace or an exterior air vent for the furnace burner.

Cupping and Crowning

“Cupping” and “Crowning” are common complaints that develop with high humidity.  Both problems occur across the width of the flooring material.

Cupping is when the edges of a board are high and its center is lower.  It can occur after water spills onto the floor and is absorbed by the wood, but high humidity is more often the cause.  If the wood expands significantly, compression set can result as boards are crushed together, deforming the boards at the edges.

Cupping is caused by a moisture imbalance through the thickness of the wood.  The wood is wetter on the bottom of the board than on the top.  The moisture imbalance can be proven by taking moisture meter readings at different pin depths.

The first step in repairing a cupped floor is to identify and eliminate the moisture source.

For more information, contact one of our experts.

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