Navigating Hardwood Floor Problems

Hardwood floors are an excellent feature that can add beauty and elegance to your home. However, when people choose wood flooring for inside their house, they often underestimate the skill it takes to install and care for the flooring. Having a professional install the flooring can save you headaches and ensure that the job gets done right and with a guarantee. Floors aren’t self-maintaining, however. Home residents must be willing to do the required maintenance to keep their floors in tip-top shape.

Navigating Hardwood Floor Problems

(Pixabay / Engin_Akyurt)

Here are some common issues homeowners encounter with wood flooring:

  • Stains — Most hardwood flooring can become stained if water is spilled on it and is not dried promptly. If floorboards are extremely damaged by stains, you should replace those right away. Another option is to strip the flooring with a wood cleaner, sand it down, and re-stain the floor. Doing this can be more time-consuming as you will need to refinish all of the flooring, but it may be worth it as everything will be evenly colored again.
  • Fractures — You might look at your flooring and notice some cracking. If your wood floors are factory-finished, the cracking may be a result of the finish. However, if your flooring was not factory-finished, cracking could be a result of the flooring nails. If this is the case, you should replace the affected boards. If your flooring is factory finished, you should be able to get a kit to fix the crack.
  • Buckling — Wood floors expand and contract depending on how dry or humid it is. When it’s humid, the floorboards will expand. If there is not enough space between the boards, the flooring will lift off the subfloors. It can cause additional damage by popping up trim on the walls and moving door frames. Buckling can happen because of flooding or a damp basement. It can also develop if the flooring was installed when the weather was too dry. If flooring is a result of too much humidity in your home, you should address that problem first.
  • Abnormal gaps — While buckling is caused by too much moisture, gaps are caused by excessive dryness. Floor gaps don’t necessarily indicate damage but are an aesthetic issue that may need to be taken care of. If the gaps are abnormal in size, it may mean that the wood was too wet when it was installed or that the area has become excessively dry. If the gaps are negatively impacting the look of the floor, you can have the flooring repaired. However, make sure you do this during the most humid time of the year. If you do it when it’s dry, the boards will expand during humid weather, causing the floor to buckle.
  • Cupping — Cupping happens when the bottom of the board is wetter than the tops. This problem occurs most often when floorboards are installed over damp basements or crawlspace. Floors with wide planks are more likely to cup than other types. Solving this problem requires you to correct the moisture issues inside your home. One thing that can help with this issue is using a vapor retarder in between the floorboards and the subfloor. Once the excessive moisture is taken care of, boards will return to lying flat. If that doesn’t happen, you will have to sand the boards down. However, you should only do that once the boards are dry.
  • Wear — If your wood floors are showing signs of excessive wear, it could indicate that they weren’t finished correctly, or that they are not being maintained correctly. Signs of wear include unevenness in the color of the flooring and a lack of sheen. This issue is often caused by poor sanding. If the floors are not sanded well enough, the finish will not be evenly spread across the wood. Once foot traffic hits the wood, areas that have less finish will wear out faster. You can fix this by sanding your floors and then refinishing them.

While issues with your hardwood floor may be annoying to deal with, most of the time these issues can be easily fixed or prevented. If you have questions about how to maintain your floors, you can ask an experienced contractor to point you toward the right information. They will also be able to help if you need to make repairs and want the project done right.