Solid Hardwood flooring is a popular choice in today’s new home construction and home renovations projects. With a variety of colors, sizes and species available to choose from, it is versatile and can meet the needs of many areas of the home. However, solid hardwood is a natural substance and as such, it can be prone to issues stemming from the indoor climate of your home. In this post, we will take a quick look at some of the key issues to monitor if you have solid hardwood in your home or if you are wondering about choosing solid hardwood for your next project.
Hardwood floor cupping can happen to both solid or engineered hardwood, although engineered hardwood is more resistant. Cupping is defined by the sides of the plank being higher than the middle. This creates a concave shape and you can feel with your hand how the board is no longer completely flat on the ground. You can also notice cupping visually and it usually indicates there is a problem with moisture in the home.
Cupping can be the result of water damage to the floor, but is more commonly due to excessive moisture levels in the home. With water damage, it is easier to identify the source of the cupping as homeowners can look for a leak that may be spilling water under or near the flooring.
For indoor moisture issues that cause cupping, one possible cause is if you leave your windows open during the summer. Extremely humid days can raise the indoor humidity of the home and the hardwood can absorb this moisture from the air and the process of cupping will begin.
To prevent cupping, buy a humidity monitor to keep an eye on the levels in your home. The ideal range is generally 35% to 55%. If you notice the humidity level of your home is outside of this range, adjust accordingly by running your AC instead of leaving the windows open all summer.
Keep in mind that too little humidity can be a problem as well. If the home is excessively dry, hardwood can become weakened and cracks or splintering can occur. If you notice that the humidity level of your home is too low, you can always use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
Similar to cupping, crowning occurs with moisture issues in the home, however it is defined by the center of the board being higher than the edges. Some common causes are spills when moisture or water is left to sit on top of the hardwood floor plank, moisture leaks from the subfloor, or general issues with improper indoor humidity.
Should I be worried about gaps between hardwood flooring boards?
In winter, gaps that appear between your hardwood floor boards are normal and the cause is usually low humidity. With the furnace running, our homes become drier and hardwood can shrink, leaving some gaps between the boards. Once summer returns, these boards will expand and the gaps will become less noticeable.
As mentioned above, a good way to maintain steady climate in the home year-round is to have a humidity monitor present and to adjust levels accordingly. It is normal for gaps to appear in the winter, however if you notice that these gaps continue to widen, or never return to their normal size in the summer, it might be a sign of underlying issues with the installation and you should contact a flooring expert to take a look.
Hardwood floor buckling usually only occurs when there is noticeable water damage, such as flooding. Buckling is defined by the floor pulling up away from the subfloor and it can be dealt with by removing the boards and ensuring the subfloor is properly dried out before installing replacement boards. Once the floor buckles, it cannot be returned to its original condition by simply adjusting humidity in the home.
Hardwood floor scratches
If you have a dog, or if you have children, prepare for your hardwood flooring to see some scratching. While solid hardwood is a durable substance, it will see some wear from pet claws, kids’ toys dragging across the surface, or heavy objects being dropped. While some scratches can arguably add ‘character’ to the look of the floor, high traffic areas may need some repairs or refinishing over time.