Can you spot the warning signs?

Last week, we talked about gaps. So first check for cracks or separations between the wood planks.

Buckling

The most serious problem due to moisture is buckling. This happens when your wood floor actually separates from the sub-floor, which is a very serious, and potentially costly, situation. The floor may actually lift a few inches in more than one place. This occurs when the floor has been flooded for a while. What to do—remove the damaged boards to let dry air move through to the sub-floor. Only then can you begin to make repairs. Luckily, this is a rare event.

Cupping

Cupping affects the width of the floor. When you see the edges of a wood plank higher than the middle part, you know that moisture has saturated the boards, usually from spills that weren’t cleaned up or from high humidity in the air. When wood expands, and there’s an uneven amount of moisture in the boards, you’ll see cupping.

The wood is drier on top and wetter on the bottom. Usually it happens after hardwood floors have been installed—another reason to have professionals install it—not yourself if you have no experience, or an unreliable, low-cost contractor who takes shortcuts.

Crowning

This is the reverse situation, when the center of the board is higher than the edges. One cause of this could be that the floor was saturated with moisture, then sanded before the wood could return to a normal state. During sanding, edges of the boards that are already raised may flatten out, causing the middle to rise. Beware of careless contractors who start the sanding process while there’s still moisture in the wood. This is a costly mistake.

What about damages you CAN’T see?

Yes, there are potential, invisible dangers lurking in the sub-flooring. That’s why we mentioned in an earlier post that a reputable wood flooring installer should take readings of the moisture content in the sub-floor, as well as the wood itself. You absolutely must test for moisture in the room and walls too before proceeding with the installation. If high levels of moisture are detected, a professional will not install the floor until the source of the problem is fixed. Even a concrete sub-floor must be checked thoroughly for moisture.

Termite infestations can occur and compromise the integrity of your wood flooring. They can do extensive damage, including destroying your floor supports and sub-floors. Sometimes it can take years before termite damage is visible. Signs to watch for are buckling or sagging floors not due to moisture, wood that crumbles or sounds hollow, and floor boards that pop up. If you should discover that you have a termite infestation, you should immediately contact reputable pest control experts to repair the problem and help you prevent future infestations.

Damages to your wood floors can also be caused by pet urine, mold and other issues. Sometimes the only clue to these is an odor before you actually see the stains. We’ll discuss these, and other maintenance issues, in future blog posts.

Remember, knowing what to look out for and being able to identify these types of damage will help you to solve the problem and restore your wood floors to their original glory.

Contact the premier wood flooring experts—retail, installation, maintenance and more—at Sequoia Ltd. We’ll help you find, install and maintain your beautiful wood floors, so that you can enjoy them for years to come. Talk to us today.