Category Archives: Hardwood Floor Damage

What Causes Hardwood Floors to Separate?

What Causes Hardwood Floors to Separate?

A hardwood floor can contribute a lot to the beauty of a home’s interior and give a nice, warm feel to any room. With different kinds of wood available or patterns to create, the possibilities are endless, and a hardwood floor can give your living space just the style you desire. But the effect can rapidly be spoiled if gaps appear between the floorboards. These little spaces easily accumulate dust and dirt and can be a source of frustration and concern. The good news is that there’s always something you can do to make your floor look beautiful again. First, let’s look at what causes hardwood floors to separate.

External and Structural Causes

A hardwood floor may start to show signs of separation due to outside causes. Wood is an organic material and sensitive to variations in temperature and humidity, which can cause it to shrink or expand slightly with changing weather. This is entirely natural, and flooring technicians will take a degree of floor movement into account when they install your hardwood floor. But when temperature and humidity fluctuations tend toward extremes or become frequent, your floor may start to exhibit cracks between sections.

Accidental damage—spilling liquids, dropping large objects, or dragging heavy, bulky furniture, for example—can also cause floorboards to dislocate. In older houses, moisture that seeps in unnoticed can also have damaging effects.

Separation can be due to structural issues with the floor itself. Perhaps the wood was inadequately acclimatized prior to installation or the gaps left around the perimeter of the room were the wrong size. Poor workmanship could be the reason your hardwood floor is separating. If the floorboards weren’t tapped into place properly or weren’t a perfect fit, they won’t be able to expand and contract freely and organically as they need to.

In a nutshell, although wood responds to its environment and to seasonal and other changes, a properly installed hardwood floor will cope well with these, within reasonable limits. In contrast, when variations in the atmosphere, particularly humidity, are too great or the quality of the floor itself (the wood or the installation) is subpar, problems are likely to arise.

What to Do About Hardwood Floor Separation

Prevention is better than a cure, so the ideal time to treat hardwood floor issues is before they arise. And this means before work even begins on the floor itself. To start, the space the floor will occupy must be prepared and the subfloor made ready to build on. Meanwhile, the wood must be properly acclimatized. This means that it needs to get used to the conditions inside the building it will be housed in.

The relative humidity of the wood flooring boards needs to be somewhere between 35 and 55 percent. So the climate inside the building—particularly in the case of newly built homes—needs to be stabilized to this humidity level before bringing the wood inside. When work starts on laying the floor, there should be no more than a few percent difference between the humidity of the subfloor and flooring.

All of this is second nature to us at Wall 2 Wall. Our hardwood floors can last for decades and will look as good as new for almost as long.

If you’re already past the prevention stage, here are a couple of steps you can take.

Correcting Gaps Between Floorboards

Sometimes it’s possible to actually close up the gaps between floorboards—after all, they shifted one way, so they can shift back the other. This is only an option if the boards aren’t fixed. If the floor has expanded outwards too much, it needs to be pushed back tightly into place. You’ll need to work from the outside inwards and use wooden pegs around the outside to prevent the floor from spreading again and cracks from reappearing.

Filling the Gaps

Sometimes, pushing boards back together again isn’t possible. But rest assured, there are ways to fill the gaps in such a way that the end result is almost imperceptible.

  • Using sawdust and clear resin filler. You can mix sawdust from the same wood as the floorboards with resin to form a paste and then fill the gaps. If you proceed unhurriedly and methodically, your floor should look nicely rejuvenated.
  • Color match acrylic filler. This kind of filler comes in many color tones, and if you can find one that perfectly matches your floor, your gaps will be nothing but distant memories in no time. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions for use.

Filler strips. For larger gaps, you can put a strip of actual wood in, almost like an extra tiny floorboard. Use the same species and color wood and gently tap the strip in until it is flush with the floor surface. You can sand it down if necessary.

Preventing New Gaps

But what happens if more gaps appear, even after repairing the previous ones? First, just wait a bit. Even when a floor has not been laid perfectly, it will often settle and then stop changing.

There are also steps you can take to keep humidity levels, one of the main culprits that cause hardwood floors to separate, within a reasonable range. You can use a humidifier in winter to stop the dry air from making the wood shrink too much. And if your summers are hot and humid, a dehumidifier can stop the wood from expanding excessively.

If your floor still remains temperamental and doesn’t stabilize despite your best efforts, don’t hesitate to call a contractor. There may yet be a simple cause and solution. At Wall 2 Wall, we can advise you on what’s causing your hardwood floors to separate and make all the repairs you need. Reach out today to discuss your hardwood floor.

What Can I Do When My Wood Floor Is Cracking?

What Can I Do When My Wood Floor Is Cracking?

Wood floors are growing prominence for their beauty and contemporary preservation methods. They are generally easy to care for as well. But what happens when cracks form in or between the boards? We have good news. This problem can be both rectified and even avoided with proper floor upkeep.The hardwood flooring experts at Wall 2 Wall have some suggestions to help you keep your flooring looking as good as new. Sealing cracked wood floors can be done in various ways, depending on whether the floor is finished or incomplete and the severity of the problem.

1. Use Adaptable Gap Fillers

Several of the fillers used to keep some elasticity after drying. They are a good choice for sealing microscopic fissures since they are less prone to be forced out if the boards expand. Filler application is a straightforward technique that requires only a caulk trimmer and a caulk gun or comparable removal instrument.

To implement this strategy:

  1. Start by suctioning the cracks with a hose attachment. This will help remove any debris that may be preventing the filler from adhering to the boards.
  2. Insert the end of the filler tube into the caulk gun with a little tilt. This tilt will enable you to control the filler application while preventing unequal coverage.
  3. Add the filler to the gap as you would normally add caulking; then use your trimmer to scrape away any excess carefully.
  4. To prevent leaving stains or other defects on your floor, carefully follow the recommendations on the filler tube when cleaning up.

2. Make Use of Wood Scraps

One common method for covering wider gaps in wood floor cracking is to use pieces of the same kind of wood as your floor. Ensure the area is moist to keep from having your wood panel forced out the next time your floors expand. Split the strips in half and glue the two halves together.

Then, fasten the strips between both the boards with a hammer with cushioning, leaving a small bit above the floor height. After the glue sets, scrape the extra wood using a woodworking plane to ensure that the surface becomes glossy over the repair site. It’s worth noting that this technique works best with square-curtain boards and is unsuccessful with tongue-and-groove flooring.

3. Make Use of Rope

An old but still popular method of crack closure utilizes a rope. This approach is evocative of Arabian shipbuilding traditions, and it provides a small amount of insulation.

You’ll need to gauge the rope to suit, just like you did with the wood. Avoid using synthetic rope. All you do is wedge it into place, filling the cracks as you would with caulking. Make sure the rope fillers are level with the adjoining boards. After that, you can dye the rope to suit the color of your floor.

4. Make Use of Sawdust

Using fine sawdust to cover holes in a cracked wood floor is a simple way to fill them. Larger sawdust may have undesirable grain. Thus, sanding wood of a similar species is ideal.

To use this method:

  1. Gather sufficient sawdust for the floor area that needs to be fixed. If you don’t have any spare pieces of matching wood, you can go to a flooring shop and buy some.
  2. If you can’t find matching wood, you’ll have to retool a portion of the current floor. Take a strip from the floor’s border or a portion from beneath a doorway, which will be covered by the doorframe when re-laid, by pulling up the baseboard and prying up a piece from the floor’s border.
  3. Using a belt sander, sand a cup or two of sawdust from the piece of wood.
  4. To form a reasonably thick paste, combine the sawdust and wood glue.
  5. Lay the sawdust into the crevices using a plastic spatula. Make an effort to finish it as smoothly as possible. Wipe any excess off the spot and nearby floors with a moist cloth. To avoid dragging filler out of the patch, wipe on a diagonal.
  6. Allow the filler to dry for a few days.
  7. Lightly sand.
  8. If there is a significant color difference between the patch and the remainder of the floor, you may need to re-stain it. Stain the patch with a tiny artist’s brush. Allow it to dry for a minute before wiping away. Allow the stain to dry overnight before applying a coat of varnish to the patch using a small artist’s brush.

5. Replacement of the Whole Floor

If the problem with your wood floor cracking is more severe, you may need to completely replace it. This is the case if the spaces are wide and many or when other signs of board deterioration are present, such as missing or warping slivers. While this is a costly alternative, trying to fix a badly deteriorated wood floor can end up costing you even more money over the long term.

Preventing Wood Floor Cracks

Following are some of the things that may cause your wood floor to crack in the future. Knowing these, you can prevent cracks in the future.

Humidity Levels

Low humidity levels may wreak havoc on your floor. Low levels allow the wood to dry out, which weakens it and causes the floor to crack. This drying process can also cause the floor to check, which means the wood will crack along the pattern. Low humidity might also degrade the finish, causing routine maintenance problems.

Keeping a small humidifier in the area or using your furnace’s humidifier will help balance the humidity and prevent this problem. Proper humidity levels in your house will also improve your family’s health, so this preventative action has numerous advantages.

Cleaning with Water

Wood flooring can only withstand minimal wet cleaning. Soaking your floor with a cleaning solution will cause damage. Use a moist mop or towel instead.

Rug Protectors

Although rug pads help keep your rug in place and prevent it from sliding, certain varieties create scratches on your floor. Rubber-backed mats, for example, may affect the color and luster of your floor. Rather, it is advised to utilize pads made of felt.

Wavy hardwood floor that is sun bleached and traffic worn.

What Does It Mean If a Hardwood Floor Is Wavy

You love the classic, beautiful look and feel of having a hardwood floor in your home. But what happens when you look down one day and see that your hardwood floor appears to be … wavy? Believe it or not, this isn’t an uncommon problem. Read on to find out more about this issue, including why it’s happening and what can be done to fix it.

What Causes a Hardwood Floor to Look Wavy?

There are two kinds of damage that can make your floor appear wavy. They are known as warping and cupping.

In either case, this damage is because of humidity or moisture or just related to water in general. Sometimes, this happens because of a shift in weather, perhaps due to the seasons changing. Other times, it’s due to excess water or humidity.

This is because hardwood floors are very sensitive to water. Wood is a hygroscopic material, so your floors absorb water, which leads to problems.

The longer the problem causing hardwood floors to look wavy goes on, the worse the damage will be. Once water damage starts, it unfortunately doesn’t take much for it to spread quite fast. And this also means that any necessary repairs will likely cost more as well. That’s why it pays to be aware of how your flooring, as well as your home in general, is holding up.

Too much moisture doesn’t just make the hardwood floor wavy. And this damage isn’t a problem just for the look of your home. It can also be a safety hazard that affects the health of the occupants of your home. The absorption of moisture can also allow mold and bacteria to grow. Like the water damage, these hazards also spread quite fast. And because of what happens to the floors with cupping and warping, it can even cause people to trip.

What Is Cupping? And Why Does It Happen?

Cupping is a somewhat common type of floor damage that is also known as wash boarding.

As you may have guessed from the name, cupping is when the edges of the planks that make up your hardwood floor curl up. This happens because the hardwood can swell when it absorbs too much moisture. In turn, as the edges rise up, the middle of the plank sinks down. So it takes on a sort of cup shape. And that shape creates the wavy floor appearance that causes your concern.

As explained above, the reason for this damage is related to water. With cupping in particular, it’s usually due to an imbalance of moisture. And, typically, the imbalance is that the bottom of the floor has more moisture than the top.

What causes such a moisture imbalance? One reason could be if the air in your home is especially dry. This can happen in the winter or as the result of air conditioning in the summer. It could also happen if there is any moisture trapped under the floor.

If My Floor Is Cupping, What Can I Do to Fix This Problem?

Cupping is actually a milder form of floor damage, even if it might not look it. Extreme cases aside, it is usually fixable and/or reversible. This means that unless you want to, you would likely not have to install a completely new floor.

Often, the way to fix this damage is simple. You just have to figure out the right moisture balance to help things go back to normal. But don’t expect a big change overnight. Moisture movement can sometimes take a little while, so stay patient.

The other important thing to do is to take steps that could prevent cupping from happening again in the future. This means you should be more aware of moisture balance going forward. For instance, you may need to tweak how often you run heating and cooling units or humidifiers and dehumidifiers.

How Is Warping Different Than Cupping?

Warping, which can also be known as buckling, is a more serious type of damage than cupping. Like cupping, the damage happens because of how the wood absorbs moisture. In this case, the moisture usually comes from beneath the floor. The excess water could be due to a leak or flooding.

In some cases, the hardwood pulls away from the floor. When the damage is severe, it can even pull up a few inches.

How Do I Fix Minor Warping?

Like with cupping, the key to fixing the floor is to restore balance with the moisture. Because the moisture beneath the floor can cause so much damage, having a dehumidifier in the basement can help fix the problem. Or it can even prevent it from happening in the first place. As with cupping, keep in mind that the damage will not be reversed right away.

How Do I Make Sure My Wavy Hardwood Floor Are Not Too Far Gone to Save?

Hopefully, you will catch the signs of water damage to your hardwood floor early enough to save it. Here at Wall 2 Wall, we have plenty of experience with water-damaged hardwood floors. For the simplest, repair contact us as soon as you notice that damage.

Whether you need a hardwood repair or to install a new hardwood floor, make sure you go with the best. No matter the extent of the damage, at Wall 2 Wall, we will find a way to restore your hardwood floor. Because of our expertise, we will know whether to restore the boards, replace them, or do a mix of both. You can also count on a reasonable rate for our expert work.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, contact our experts here at Wall 2 Wall. You can find more information on Wall 2 Wall on our website. You can trust that we are your absolute best choice when it comes to working with hardwood floors in Portland, Oregon. Check out our gallery of work on our website and fill out the online form to get a free estimate today.