Hardwood floors, fair enough, being the absolute sign of beauty along with benefits, do deserve an endless credit. However, things don’t always remain entirely good and favorable and since we are talking about Hardwood Floors, there is a bit of a dark side to them, too.
And even if you haven’t come across any such situation before or this is your first time with the usage of hardwood floors, you can identify it as a seemingly major and critical damage concern.
Let’s get to know what exactly we are going to come across.
What Is Meant By Hardwood Floor Buckling?
For the simplest definition, buckling is the separation (sad, no?) of the hardwood floor from the subfloor, which often gets accompanied by either swelling or cupping or both, in the worst case scenarios.
The salient aspects of this genuinely troublesome situation include:
- The fact that it is the most extreme reaction taking place to moisture present in the hardwood floors
- The literal pulling up of the wood flooring from the subfloor, up to several inches and at multiple points
- The edges of the wood planks begin curling up which is the reason for this term as the defiling resembles the shape of a cup. Besides, the middle section of wood planks also becomes prone to swelling
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Addressing The Buckled Hardwood Floors
Now that we’ve got a pretty comprehensive idea about this very real yet curable concern of hardwood floors, it’s high time to switch to digging the root causes, followed by, of course, learning about the effective potential fixes to the situation.
What Causes Hardwood Floor Buckling?
Just as we begin analyzing the major causes, it’s important to know at this point that
Improper installation and a number of environmental factors are the primary factors for generating hardwood floor buckling.
Which implies the fact that the rest of the issues are simply the secondary outcomes. Anyhow let’s learn about those, as well.
1. Water (Under Or On The Floor)
There are up to two major sources of water damage that can reach up to the hardwood flooring and eventually cause its buckling either at once or over time. Usually the ground water penetrates through the flooring due to perforated vapor barriers. Same goes for the leaking appliances, condensation and moisture reaching to the flooring from the subfloor as well, causing damage to the flooring over the course of time.
2. Higher Extent Of Humidity
Higher humidity simply means more chances of hardwood floor buckling, which also explains the fact that wood floors aren’t recommended for areas with humid weather. That’s because the wooden floor is greatly susceptible to absorbing moisture present in the air and eventually getting expanded and buckled.
3. Insufficient Or No Acclimation
Not providing the hardwood floor with enough time for acclimation is one of the aspects of improper installation. Acclimation (keeping the flooring within the room where it is to be installed) ensures the right syncing of wood flooring with surrounding temperature and humidity levels and not doing so will result in both the expansion and the contraction of flooring and ultimately the deforming, once it has been stabilized.
4. Faulty Installation
A wrong installation conduct can lead to various adverse consequences in the long run. Insufficient expansion gaps around the floor perimeter, usage of wrong sized fasteners, sparse usage of fasteners, not enough space for the floor for moisture absorption are some of the major examples of faulty. And any one of these can result in the buckling or cupping of hardwood floors.
Learn More About Hardwood Flooring Installation and How Long Does It Take?
What Are The Signs Of Hardwood Floor Buckling?
There are a number of visible signs that can indicate the buckling of your hardwood floors and if you get to notice any one of them, it’s high time that you consider looking for a fix to the situation. Such signs can include:
1. There are certain separations or cracks visible between the hardwood floors
2. The flooring shows multiple cupped edges, a phenomenon known as Cupping caused by turning up of the hardwood boards
3. In severe cases, the hardwood boards might actually get lifted from the subfloors from the damaged points, a phenomenon known as Lifting.
4. Often the center of the hardwood boards gets higher than its edges, causing Crowning to take place, which is technically an opposite of Cupping.
Dealing With Buckled Hardwood Floors
Tools And Supplies Required To Fix
- Grease Or Chalk Pencil
- Straight Edge (you can also use a ruler)
- Pry Bar
- Circular Saw
- Electric Fan (ceiling or freestanding ones)
- Floor Scraper
- Vacuum Cleaner
- Replacement Planks (those extra ones from the time of installation/ new planks/ natural wood boards in the same type and tone
- Flooring Nails or adhesives (according to the current installation manner of your flooring)
- Heavy weights
Steps for How To Fix Buckled Hardwood Floor
Method 1: Minor Repairing
This is more of a quick fix for a relatively less significant and critical buckling situation and does not involve any major procedures or a lot of stuff.
- Start by soaking up all the excessive moisture from the damaged spot with the help of a few towels, by changing them repeatedly as they get completely saturated.
- Get a commercial hardwood floor disinfectant cleaner and use it to clean the floors in accordance with the recommended amount.
- Once you’re done with the cleaning, wipe off the entire cleaner, followed by drying and vacuuming the treated area thoroughly.
Learn More About Engineered Hardwood Floor Cleaning.
Method 2: Major Fixation (Replacement)
This method is for when your floors have developed a severe buckling and the situation can’t possibly be fixed by a cleanup or treating.
- Start by drawing a box around the entire damaged spot with the help of either a grease pencil or a pisces of chalk. Use a straight edge or ruler to achieve straight and even lines.
- While focusing on the board depth, you’ll have to set the circular saw according to it, followed by cutting along your just-drawn square.
- Next comes the removal of the damaged board(s) using a hammer, chisel and pry bar. You can do so really easily simply by holding the chisel at an angle of 45°, against the wood boards, followed by lightly tapping on them with the hammer.
- With the help of some towels, blot and soak all the moisture present in the area, after which you can go over the entire space with a vacuum cleaner. In addition to these steps, you can also place a few electric fans in the surroundings to speed up the drying.
- For hardwood boards stuck with adhesive, you’ll need to make use of a floor scraper in order to get rid of the adhesive residue from the subfloor. It’s best that you do so within rapid yet short strokes in a forward-downward motion.
- Start fitting the new board within the area that has been cut after cutting out accurate dimensions of the board. You’ll need to keep trimming the board after placing it in the area, till it gets fit perfectly.
- Spread the board with the adhesive or glue, followed by putting it on the specified place. Alternatively, you can also nail down all of the boards (make sure to get the correct sized nails), followed by simply gluing down the last board.
- For a firm and secure setting of the boards, you might need to place a heavyweight over them for the next 45 minutes, till the glue gets dry completely.
With this easy method for hardwood boards replacement, you can easily get rid of the former damaged ones, that too, without the need for seeking professional assistance.
Maintenance Tips To Avoid Buckled Hardwood Floor
Ahead are the useful guidelines with which you can significantly keep hardwood floor buckling at bay and can save yourself a lot of effort and of course, money.
- Wipe off all the spills and splashes ASAP and don’t ever let your hardwood flooring remain in contact with moisture, so as to avoid both buckling of the boards and mold growth between subfloor and flooring.
- Look for leaking spots such as sinks, laundry spaces, dishwashers, etc, so as to identify a trouble-causing area and treat it timely. You can also make use of a dehumidifier for ensuring maximum effectiveness.
- Avoid walking with pointed or abrasive footwear atop the hardwood floors, such as pointed shoes or Stilettos.
- Ensure the usage of felt pads within areas with heavier footfalls
- Avoid the usage of excessive water while cleaning and mopping and ensure a thorough drying after every cleanup. Always use the cleaning products according to the type of your floors, essentially those that have been recommended by the manufacturer.
- Soft and dry buffing pads are the best for frequent cleaning as well as for restoring the floor shine. That’s because they neither require the usage of any cleaner nor are they harsh to the flooring in any way.
FAQs | Frequently Asked Questions
What Causes Wood Floors To Buckle?
Water damage is the primary and major reason for hardwood buckling. Often this happens when a floor comes across sudden and huge flooding, for any given reason. In addition to that, wood floors can also end up getting buckled if there is a moisture content building up over time, which will eventually turn out in the form of buckling. The moisture usually comes from subfloors or leaking appliances.
How To Fix A Squeaky Floor From Above?
There are a number of potential fixes that you can try out for remedying this situation. This includes putting a shim into the floor gaps, nailing a wood piece along the joist that has been warped, putting wooden blocks amidst noisy joists and using construction adhesives for filling gaps. Besides, you can also go for screwing the subfloor to the finished flooring and can also make use of certain floorboard lubricants for this purpose.
Will Cupped Hardwood Floors Flatten Out Over Time?
That is quite possible, however, only as long as it isn’t a really severe or critical cupping. The flooring is likely to flatten out to a reasonable level once it has been dried out, but that’s still gonna contain minor gapping. Besides, shrinkage is a definitive outcome since the flooring has run out of moisture. This implies the need for a keen look to see if there is any looseness or not, before one goes for a remedying attempt.
Will Warped Wood Go Back To Normal?
You can make the warped wood restore to normal by exposing it to direct sunlight which will heat it all up. Plus, you can give the additional help with a couple of towels. The heating and moisture soaking have a potential possibility of retaining the warped wood, however, over the course of several days. Besides, if you’ve been encountered with a severe warping, there might arise a need for pressure treating the wood.
Can Wood Warp From Heat?
Warping is a definitive phenomenon whenever timber is subjected to thermal expansion (exposure to heat). And the result could be twisted wood or its defiling into certain odd shapes. The first and foremost fix to this situation is the application of extra heat to the opposite side of the warped area. Plus, this goes the same for moisture damage, i.e. it can be treated in the same way by applying extra moisture to the opposite side.
What Is Meant By Crowning?
Crowning is one of the major warning signs indicating buckled hardwood. It refers to the puffed up area caused by moisture damage as the hardwood boards begin to rise in the middle. In addition to that, the wood often gets to dip down on the longer edges. Besides moisture damage, hardwood floor crowning can also be caused by saddening a cupped floor and of course having certain moisture issues.