Buckled Hardwood Floors - Job Analysis. Why? Fixes
Here's a situation we often hear from many that run into probelms with warped or buckled floors. Floors buckle because they have run out of room to expand across the face of each board. In other words, the floor has gained moisture either by the ambient conditions within the home's structure or it has flooded with water. With no more room to expand they lift from the subfloor forming a tenting appearance. Depending on the severity, some can actually pop loose from their fasteners (shown right).
No Protection From The Crawlspace - Wood Sub Floor
Had this problem been recognized earlier by minor swelling, the floor could have been saved. The determining cause of the problem was failure to provide any protection under a crawl space that was exposed to ground soil. That was not the worst part of it. Rainwater had found it's way into the crawl space area and puddled; leaving it sit with nowhere to go but be drawn into the wood subfloor above.
Moisture entered the wood subfloor and into the planks themselves. In other areas of this home, some were affected more than others. Some not at all. It had a direct relationship with what was under the subfloor. Some may be wondering why no moisture barrier under the hardwood? Ordinarily you would see black asphalt felt paper that functions as a vapor retarder.
The product used was a wider four inch plank, often known to cause cupping issues given the right conditions in some locations. The installers not only nailed the boards but used construction adhesive in an effort to minimize the potential cupping effect. It did not work. These kind of issues are common with solid hardwood and rare with engineered, but one should recognize potential problems that may exist before any installation is started.
Buckling Over Concrete Slabs
Concrete sub floors or installations that buckle over concrete can be caused by several reasons.
• No moisture barrier
• Prolonged high humidity ¹
• Plumbing leaks
• Water intrusion - walls, windows
• Concrete slab failure
• No expansion area allowed
We have several pages on the site that deal with single board replacements and larger problem repairs. The causes mentioned above can also be responsible for buckling over wood sub floors.
The next problem shown was a result of water intrusion from a leaky window.
How To Repair?
Depending on the conditions everything must be dried out thoroughly with corrective measures that caused the problem. Instead of removing the entire floor and starting over, it may be possible to rip cut some board rows to smaller dimensions so the flooring will fit back into place. Keep in mind this solution only pertains to mildly affected problems.
We suggest consulting with a seasoned hardwood professional to better assess the damage caused. More experienced professionals will recognize the problems and cause while performing moisture testing readings that are vital to insure the problems do not occur again. These procedures will also confirm the hardwood be repaired at the proper time so it does not become a rushed band aid solution.
¹ These situations may happen more with climates that are very dry most of the time.