There is nothing worse than buying a beautiful, new hardwood floor and days later witnessing damage from moisture or flooding. Thankfully, there are a few handy tips if you happen to suffer minor buckling in your hardwood floors. However, if the buckling is from extreme moisture exposure, you will probably need to consider replacing entire planks. Buckling can occur for a number of reasons. Whether there is too much weight on the wood flooring or exposure to moisture, understanding why buckling occurs is the first step to fixing it.
What Is Buckling
Buckling, also called cupping or crowning, is the most extreme case of too much moisture exposure for wood flooring. When a plank has begun to separate from the sub-flooring, it has begun buckling. Although most cases of too much moisture or humidity can be solved before buckling occurs, it does happen.
Cupping is when the edges of a plank begin to rise above the midsection. Crowning is when the midsection begins to swell above the edges.
Buckling, along with cupping and crowning, is a relatively common occurrence, especially in homes with high humidity or moisture content. When you are having your wood flooring installed, make sure the installer is certified by the National Wood Flooring Association and checks the moisture content of the home before installation.
Also, ensure the installer is using the correct materials for installation, especially for floated flooring. If the floors are installed incorrectly, cupping or buckling will probably occur. To prevent this, make sure every aspect of the installation is done professionally and with the proper materials.
Finding the Problem
Before you consider repairing buckled flooring at all, you must find the source of the problem. Again, if the issue is related to improper installation, you may be at risk of replacing the entire floor. However, if the cause is moisture related, finding the source and fixing it could cure the buckling without having to replace anything.
For starters, you should contact your installer and have him/her come take moisture readings of the home and the floor. Hardwood flooring should always have a low moisture content. As wood naturally absorbs water, it should always be kept as dry as possible.
Finding out the moisture content of the planks will tell you whether the issue is moisture related from faulty installation.
The next step, if the issue is too much moisture, is to find out where the excess moisture is coming from. This can be a bit trickier. Sometimes, the concrete in the sub-flooring can be too moist, which can cause buckling. Other times, the issue might be an appliance in the house, like a leaking dishwasher or a broken pipe. If this happens to be the issue, a simple fix of the appliance may be all that is needed.
If an appliance is not the issue, you may also need to manage the humidity and moisture content in your home. This can be caused by a lack of proper ventilation. Again, a certified hardwood flooring installer can determine how to adjust excess humidity in the home. Most of the time, managing moisture content in the home is an easy fix.
Fixes for Minor Buckling
Once the source of the moisture has been found and fixed, there are a few simple remedies that could save your flooring. For starters, you may want to pull up a few of the planks to make sure the sub-floor is not saturated with water. If this is the case, soak up the excess moisture with towels or a vacuum. Additionally, you can also bring in fans or space heaters to dry out the moisture more quickly.
Once the excess water has been handled, minor buckled planks should return to normal.
If moisture is not the cause of the buckling, you may have an issue with poor nailing to the sub-floor. To fix buckled floors that have been improperly adhered to a sub-floor, an easy fix may be to simply re-nail the flooring. However, this usually will not work if the planks have become too warped. For warped planks, the only viable solution is to replace them.
Prevention and Maintenance
The sad fact is that many buckled wood floors are not repairable. If the wood has been severely warped or damaged, the only choice is to replace the flooring. That means proper maintenance of your flooring investment is the best fix.
Preventing buckling in the first place can save you time, money, and replacement of your flooring.