Category Archives: Learning

Help! My Hardwood Floor Is Splitting

No one wants to think about their hardwood floor splitting, but it is, unfortunately, more common than you may realize. Hardwood floor splitting occurs more commonly if your hardwood floors are on the newer side. Why is that? Well, hardwood floor splitting occurs due to water, typically excess moisture or humidity. And if your hardwood floors aren’t properly installed or sealed, that can lead to moisture getting into your floors and causing the hardwood to split.

Potential Causeswall-2-wall-help-my-hardwood-floor-is-splitting

For instance, if the wood was installed in an environment that wasn’t humidity controlled, extra moisture could have been trapped in the boards. An uncontrolled environment is one that’s outside the ideal humidity range used throughout the hardwood flooring industry, which is 35 to 55 percent.

Another way the installation could have been done improperly is if the wood wasn’t acclimated correctly before it was installed, which means your floorboards could have either been too wet or too dry during installation.

There are other reasons your hardwood floors could be splitting that have nothing to do with installation. The levels of humidity in your home could have increased or decreased significantly. This can also lead to splits. For example, if it’s an excessively humid summer and the humidity gets into your home, that could cause splitting. Additionally, moisture can seep through the subfloor, causing a damp crawlspace, which will, in turn, cause splitting. Your floor will take on the moisture and then release it to the rest of the room.

Now that you know why your hardwood floor could be splitting, what can be done to solve the problem?

Call a Professional

The first thing you should do is call a professional. Don’t attempt to fix the splitting on your own. Not only can it be dangerous, but it could lead to further damage to your floors if the repair isn’t done properly. Additionally, you’ll want to call a professional because they can fix, not only the problem, but also the source of the problem to help ensure that your hardwood floors stay fixed.

At Wall 2 Wall Hardwood Floors, we can do all of this for you (and more!). We’re pros when it comes to hardwood floor installation, hardwood floor repair, and hardwood floor restoration, just to name a few of our specialties. We’ll use our expertise to fix your splitting hardwood floor and get to the root of the problem to prevent it from happening again. For example, if there’s a damp subfloor under your flooring that’s causing the splitting, we’ll help you remedy that issue.

You should only take action on your own if you’re entirely sure the issue isn’t due to an underlying water or moisture issue and that it won’t reoccur. If this is the case and you know how to use the proper equipment safely, you can sand, fill, and refinish the floor if the splitting is getting extensive. If you’re at all hesitant, call for assistance.

Check the Humidity in Your Home

As we mentioned above, moisture in the air is a common reason hardwood floors split. Double-check the humidity of the room where the floor is splitting and of your home in general. You don’t want to fix your split hardwood floors only for it to happen again a short while later due to excessive moisture in the house.

Just as high levels of moisture in a room can cause the hardwood floors to split, low levels, resulting in it being too dry, can do the same. For instance, if it’s wintertime and you have the heat pumping throughout your home, check the humidity level in the room where the floor is splitting. It might be too low. If it is, you can get a humidifier and run it in the room. This humidifier will help to bring more moisture into the room. It’s all about finding that happy balance in the range we mentioned above (35 to 55 percent).

Don’t Feel Like You Need to Act Right Away

Of course, if you see a split in the flooring of your home and it’s right after installation, you should call the company who installed your floors. However, if the floors aren’t new, there’s no reason to call for help immediately. It’s good practice to wait a full season to see if there are any further changes in your flooring before you get the problem fixed. This is because, as the weather and humidity changes, it’s normal for hardwood floors to change somewhat. Sometimes, the splits can close by themselves when the humidity rises again. Wait a while and see—there’s no reason for you to spend excess money if you don’t have to.

Whereas moisture—whether there’s too much or too little of it—tends to be the main factor when it comes to hardwood floor splitting, if the floor is older and the finish on the floor is worn, the splits could simply be a sign of age. This is something that a professional can diagnose so you know for sure.

When the splitting is due solely to age and not because of a water problem, there’s no need to fix the splits—as long as you’re okay with them, of course. If they don’t cause a safety risk to anyone walking around, if they aren’t that big, and if you don’t mind the look of them, it’s okay to simply leave the splits as they are. When, however, the splitting is a concern or you suspect an underlying water or moisture issue, call in a hardwood floor professional to assess the situation.

If your hardwood floor is splitting and you’re in the Portland area, please give us a call. We can come to inspect and fix the problem for you.

5 Tips for Installing Hardwood Flooring Wall to Wall

A hardwood floor is one of the most elegant upgrades you can give your home. A wood floor brings benefits both aesthetic and practical. Compared to a carpet, it’s easier to clean and longer-lasting, and it won’t trap allergens and bad smells in the way that carpet will. What’s more, a hardwood floor can have a profound effect on your home’s value: up to 2.5 percent, depending upon other factors. Since a hardwood floor doesn’t need to be replaced every few years the way carpeting does, you’ll easily find that the initial cost of installation pays for itself over the lifetime of the house.

Of course, installing wall-to-wall flooring is an art and science unto itself. Below, we offer our top five tips to ensure your home has a floor that can last generations.

Tip #1: Know What’s Involved

Attempting to install a hardwood floor yourself is not a job for a beginner. You should have a solid background in carpentry and know your way around the tools of the trade. Because installing wall-to-wall flooring requires extremely precise measurements—even a minor error can lead to serious problems with your floor—you shouldn’t try to undertake this job on your own unless you’re confident of your skills. You’ll also want to be sure you have the patience to undertake a task of this size. It’s a long and difficult job.

If you’ve considered all the above factors and have decided that you can handle the installation process on your own, great! If, on the other hand, you’ve decided you need the help of a professional, there’s no shame in that either. Contact Portland’s top hardwood flooring professionals at Wall 2 Wall and ask them for a quote for the job.

Tip #2: Choose the Right Materials

So you’ve decided you want to install a hardwood floor. Of course, that’s only the first of a series of decisions you’ll have to make. “Hardwood” can mean many different types of material, and you’ll need to decide exactly what’s best in your situation. While most people imagine that hardwood floors are always made from solid planks of oak, cherry, or other similar materials, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

In fact, modern technology has led to advancement in the hardwood flooring world, just as it has in other areas of home design. For example, a popular and relatively new type of hardwood flooring is known as engineered flooring. These are planks covered with only a thin top layer of the hardwood of your choice, and it has a variety of advantages over other types of hardwood floors. In particular, engineered flooring can be installed directly onto concrete, without requiring the layers of plywood traditional floors have beneath them. This means that they can be installed essentially anywhere—and also that they can be installed over floors that have radiant heating systems.

Solid flooring still has advantages over other types, though. It can be sanded repeatedly and therefore can easily be refinished every few years, meaning it will stay in amazing shape for decades.

Besides these choices, you’ll have to make aesthetic choices as well. What type of wood do you prefer to have in your home? Oak, cherry, mahogany, or something else entirely? Oak is a popular choice, owing not only to its durability, but also to its ability to take stain well. If you prefer something with a darker finish, walnut is also an excellent choice, although it’s a little softer than oak.

Tip #3: Decide On the Size of the Wood Planks

As with any home improvement project, preparation is key when it comes to installing wall-to-wall flooring. You’ve settled on the material to use, but you have a few other important decisions to make. For example, what’s the width of the planks you want to use? Do you prefer wide planks or thin planks? Each has its own distinct advantages.

Thin planks—in the four- to six-inch range—are standard and a bit cheaper. Wide planks—seven inches or more—are considered to be a “luxury” feature that exudes a sense of elegance in the home. It’s more expensive than thin planks. Thinner planks also tend to warp less over time, although this can vary depending on other factors.

Tip #4: Consider How You’ll Install Your Floorwall-2-wall-5-tips-for-installing-hardwood-flooring-wall-to-wall

After you know all the details regarding what your floor will look like and what it will be constructed from, you’ll need to know how your floor will be installed. How the floor is installed depends a good bit on what it’s constructed from. Solid hardwood planks usually need to be nailed straight down onto the plywood beneath them. Engineered flooring can usually be glued down or even stapled into place.

Tip #5: Prepare Carefully Before You Begin

Once you’ve made all the decisions regarding installing your wall-to-wall flooring, you’ll need to actually begin ordering the materials. Begin with careful measurement of the rooms you’ll be installing the flooring in. Always order at least 5 percent more material than you actually need. This is to allow for cutting and a margin of error.

The next step you’ll have to take is rolling out your underlayment, should it be required, and then you’ll lay out the hardwood planks. Line the planks up parallel to the longest wall. If you’re nailing the floorboards down, you may have to drill holes in them first. With each step, take care that there are no large gaps between the planks of your floor, and then you can begin the job.

As with any massive building project, it helps if you have a few extra sets of hands to assist you. Ask friends or neighbors to help with the job. Of course, don’t be afraid to call a professional if you believe the job requires it.

Why is My Hardwood Floor Buckling?

Hardwood floors are a classic and timeless addition to a home and have grown to become an extremely popular flooring choice among owners. Apart from adding beauty and warmth to your space, it’s also easy to maintain and has a long shelf life compared to other alternatives.

However, given the wear and tear floors are subjected to on an everyday basis, one cannot escape from all of the common problems that could arise as even though hardwood floors are high on aesthetic appeal, remember that there will be times when you will notice abnormalities in the flooring, sometimes through no fault of your own.

One of the most common issues people with hardwood floors are faced with is buckling.

If you notice a portion of your hardwood floor is slightly raised, this is a sign of buckling and generally occurs due to increased exposure to moisture, which the wooden plank pulls away from the sub-floor, causing the raised appearance.

Image of Hardwood Floors Buckling - Hardwood Floor Buckling Blog

Buckling is often accompanied by cupping or crowning; when either the edges of the plank begin to rise and resemble a cup or the middle section begins to swell.

If you’re wondering why this annoying phenomenon can occur, here are the five most common causes behind this issue:

Leaks & Floods

If there is one enemy hardwood floors have, it has got to be moisture, and buckling is what you get when hardwood floors have been exposed to moisture for an extended period of time. This often arises after flooding, subfloor moisture buildup, drainage problems, or leaking pipes.

In spite of being processed into a flooring material, wood is living and is hygroscopic in nature, which means it reacts to the changes in the moisture content in the environment. Wood expands when it comes in contact with moisture and when the moisture is unable to spread
laterally, it leads to floor buckling.

So, the first step is to identify the source of moisture and tackle it before you repair the buckled floor. If it is a case of minor buckling, the affected portions can be dried and fixed. In extreme cases, you will need to get a professional to replace the damaged wooden planks.

Humidity

However, while water is a main cause of buckling, if you search and find no obvious water issue there are a few other culprits.

Another common reason for buckling is humidity. Yes, changing humidity levels can also impact your hardwood floors. While humidity levels are very low during winter, they rise in the summer months. Similar changes in the humidity levels are seen throughout the day which impacts hardwood floors.

High humidity levels are characterized by excess moisture content which causes the hardwood floor to swell, creating pressure between the planks. Prolonged periods of high humidity result in buckling.

It is this reason that the National Wood Floor Association (NWFA) recommends maintaining humidity levels between 30% and 50% to ensure proper maintenance of hardwood floors. How do you achieve that? Use humidifiers and air conditioners in your home to keep the levels in check.

Not Acclimated

As per NWFA, acclimation is referred to as “the process of adjusting (conditioning) the moisture content of wood flooring to the environment in which it is expected to perform”.

Most manufacturers recommend acclimating the wood to the new environment because wood is generally sourced from different regions and after being shipped and stored in various locations, it is best to give it some time to adjust to the new space.

However, when you fail to follow this process, the hardwood floor starts showing signs of distortion which can be hugely disappointing. Due to the difference in moisture content, it ends up swelling on absorbing moisture, leading to buckling.

So, don’t rush to install hardwood floors without acclimating. It is better to spend time going through this critical step rather than dealing with the consequences later.

Poor Installation

Imagine having to ask, “why is my hardwood floor buckling?” after spending all that time and money on getting hardwood floors installed. Infuriating, isn’t it?

Improper installation is another reason why your floor can show signs of buckling. There are many kinds of improper floor installation such as not preparing the surface well prior to installation, not attaching the floor properly to the subfloor, uneven underlying surface, inadequate or insufficient nailing, using poor quality products for installation, among others.

If the wood is not given adequate space to expand, it will lift up from the subfloor and appear buckled due to moisture retention. Hence, it is very important to outsource the installation to hardwood floor experts who use the right technique and equipment to get the installation done correctly.

Improper Care

Hardwood floors are not typically high on maintenance, but you must follow proper care instructions in order to ensure longevity.

For instance, you cannot be using soap and water to mop hardwood floors because they will cause buckling due to the absorption of moisture. Instead, shift to friendlier alternatives like a microfiber mop or cloth. Microfibers trap the dirt and dust particles, unlike brooms.

In case of spills, clean them up immediately to avoid further damage. It is also a good idea to use floor coverings meant for wood floors such as mats and rugs to minimize damage.

Repairing buckled hardwood floors depends on the extent of the damage. Quick fixes are not effective and you will need to get the entire buckled portion replaced or repaired. In many cases, buckled floors aren’t repairable and usually end with floor replacement anyway. What you can do is ensure you are cleaning the floors on a regular basis and proactively tackle repairs before they affect your beautiful hardwood floors.

The next time you wonder, “why is my hardwood floor buckling?”, contact us right away. At Wall 2 Wall Hardwood Floors, we are flooring experts offering unparalleled craftsmanship at incredible prices. Whatever your concern, from installation to refinishing, repair and replacement, we will gladly cater to all your flooring needs.

What To Do When You Notice Your Hardwood Floor is Warping

You’re settling in for a nice evening in with that new bingeable TV show that your coworkers keep talking about. The snacks are laid out, the couch cushions have been arranged perfectly, and you’ve told your friends not to bother you for the next eight or so hours.

What To Do When You Notice Your Hardwood Floor is Warping

You walk to the kitchen to get a drink, but as you stand in front of the fridge you notice something’s not quite right. Looking down, you see that your once elegant oak flooring has become warped and discolored. Tonight was supposed to be a relaxing evening; the last thing you want to think about is replacing hardwood floors.

Water can cause serious damage to wood without anyone catching it. When you do see it, you’ve got to act fast. Here are some tips on what to do if you notice your hardwood floor warping.

Find the Source

Before you even attempt to replace your hardwood floors, figure out exactly where the water is coming from. Repairing the damage is ultimately useless if you don’t take care of the root of the problem.

Hardwood floors don’t start warping because of a few spills here and there; you’re looking for a constant source of moisture creeping into the wood over a long period of time. Depending on where the damage is located, you should be able to pinpoint likely suspects.

If the damage is near a window or a door, you may be looking at a case of poor installation. The average homeowner might not even notice until the wetter part of the year, when heavy rainfall or snow leads to moisture seeping in through cracks in the seal. Older homes are particularly susceptible to outside water leakage, faulty installation or not.

Warping near a radiator or refrigerator can indicate an internal source of water. Depending on the appliance you’re looking at, it might be easy to tell. Radiators and water heaters have most of their piping exposed, making it a snap to look over the connections and see if anything is amiss. You’re in for more of a chore if you’re looking at a fridge or dishwasher, as most of those water sources are tucked away or hidden behind the appliance itself.

Many modern refrigerators have a convenient water dispensers built right into the door, allowing you to fill your glass with cool, filtered water. Should any of the piping in the dispenser or filter break or clog, you might be looking at a serious leak right in your own home.

Dishwashers can be an even bigger problem as drainage tubes can develop cracks after only a few years of use. If the tube is cheaply made, or if it’s not supported properly, you could be looking at a prolonged series of drips seeping into your floors.

Once you’ve found and repaired the source of the water, you can tackle the floors themselves.

Assess the Damage, then Determine What Needs to be Done

Depending on when you caught the damage, you might not have to just to completely replacing your hardwood floors. If you notice the warping early enough, or if it hasn’t progressed too far, you may have other options. Before you get in touch with your local hardwood specialists, get the lay of the land and figure out what you need to do.

Cupping and crowning are a common symptom of water damage. Moisture makes the wood expand, causing it to either rise up along the edge or the center of the boards. Sometimes all you need to do in order to restore the floor is to remove the source of water and let the floors dry out. If the warping is minor, the floor should shrink back down to it’s intended size and lie flat.

In other cases, it might be necessary to sand down the uneven edges and refinish the floor. While the process isn’t as extreme as ripping out the entire floor and replacing it, it is still pretty involved. Sanding, staining, and sealing all take time, and getting the floor back to how it used to look can be harder than you think.

The stain of your floor changes over time due to sun exposure, making matching the color tricky. Even if you get the stain to match, the edges between the old and new finish will still stand out. Sometimes the only way to get a cohesive floor is to sand and refinish the entire floor.

For serious damage, your only option is putting in new boards with the help of a professional with experience replacing hardwood floors. This person will be tasked with finding wood to best match the same kind and grain of wood, then make adjustments to match the hue and stain of the rest of the floor.

Matching the grain and hue of the floor, then seamlessly weaving it in to replace the damage planks requires skill and expertise. Homeowners within the greater Portland, Oregon area can rely on Wall2Wall Hardwoods for the help they need assessing and repairing the warping.

Be Prepared & Preventative What You Can

Replacing hardwood floors is enough to make you never want do it again. So, after your hardwood is back to its beautiful self, make sure to prevent water damage from happening again.

Keep an eye on potential sources for leaks. Be sure that any cracks in your doors or windows are tightly sealed before wet seasons, and be aware of any unintentional moisture being brought into the house by people.

Don’t let wet rain jackets drip on the floor all autumn long and use a shower mat to keep the bathroom floor from accumulating moisture. Check your appliances regularly for any cracks or leaks, and also proactively repairing any damage to pipes or tubing. All it takes is one steady drip over time to ruin your beautiful hardwood floors, so it’s up to you to be vigilant and nip the disaster in the bud.

But don’t worry. With some maintenance and a little foresight, your flooring will stay gorgeous for years to come!