Tag Archives: Hardwood Floor Care

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.

Water damage on hardwood floor.

Prevent Water Damage to Your Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are a thing of beauty. They add a refined, rustic charm to your modern home, instantly adding warmth and charm. When well maintained, hardwood floors are an excellent investment, as they increase your property’s value. Typically, these floors are highly durable and can withstand minor damages caused by temperature changes, pets, tools, and toddlers. However, take extra care to avoid water damage. As tough as hardwood floors can be, water makes a formidable enemy.

The best way to keep your hardwood flooring shiny and beautiful and reduce the cost of maintenance is to protect it from water damage. To help, we’ve compiled a list of tips for preventing water damage to hardwood floors.

How to Protect Your Hardwood Floors From Water Damage

Check Your Plumbing

Check your plumbing before installing hardwood floors and keep an eye on it after installation. This is because water pipe leaks and flooding are some of the primary causes of water damage to hardwood floors.

Call professional plumbers to inspect your plumbing system once in a while, and make necessary repairs as soon as you notice a problem. Also, check appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines for cracks and pipe damage. The quicker you address these issues, the longer your hardwood floor will last and the lower the maintenance cost.

Keep Wet Things Off the Floor

An important step in preventing water damage to hardwood floors is keeping an eye out for wet items on the floor and removing them immediately. Muddy shoes, wet umbrellas, damp towels, and drenched furniture should not be allowed near or on your hardwood floors. These wet items transfer moisture to your hardwood floor. If it keeps happening, the moisture content will increase until it causes severe water damage. Soaked objects also promote mold and mildew growth on the surface and in the seams of your hardwood floors.

Clean Spills Quickly

If possible, always keep a dry towel nearby so you can quickly clean spills on your hardwood floors. This is perhaps the simplest way to protect your floor from water damage. Don’t let puddles of water or any other liquid, no matter how small, sit on your hardwood floor for a long time. The liquid can quickly seep into the wood and weaken it from the inside. Instead of a wet mop, which can further wear down the wood, use a dry or slightly damp cloth to clean up the mess.

Use Quality Cleaning Products

Using the right cleaning products for your hardwood floor can improve durability and keep it safe from water damage. Only use products specifically made for hardwood floors, and always read the instructions before use. Steer clear of products that promise to make your hardwood floor shine because they usually contain waxes that can actually destroy the finish on your floor and allow water to penetrate more easily.

Use Mats and Rugs

A great way to prevent water damage to hardwood floors is to cover them with mats and rugs. By placing a mat in front of your door, you can ensure that you and your guests don’t bring wet feet into the house.
Lay rugs strategically inside your home. For instance, if you have a pet, place a mat with a waterproof back under its water bowl to absorb spilled water. Rugs or mats in high-traffic areas, such as the living or dining rooms, will add a layer of protection to your hardwood floors.

Control Indoor Humidity Levels

If you don’t have a humidifier in your home, get one as soon as possible. Because of the nature of hardwood floors, changes in weather and humidity can affect the wood and cause water damage. According to the National Wood Flooring Association, humidity levels should fall between 35 and 55 percent to maintain the quality of your hardwood flooring. Humidity levels above 55 percent can trigger cupping or buckling, causing your hardwood floor planks to expand and pull up because of excess moisture. Humidity levels lower than 35 percent can cause the wood to dry out and contract.

You need to find the proper balance of humidity and maintain it. Some HVAC units have built-in humidifiers. If yours doesn’t, you can also purchase a stand-alone humidifier in the size you need. An inexpensive indoor humidity monitor can help you determine if your space needs more or less humidity to keep your hardwood floors at their best.

Apply a Sealant

Applying a sealant is a great way to toughen and maintain your hardwood floors. Sealants such as polyurethane can make your hardwood floors more resistant to water. This means it takes longer for water to seep into the wood and cause damage.

Because polyurethane spreads thinly, apply at least three coats to ensure it prevents water absorption. For the best protection against water damage, reapply the sealant every three to four years. If you’d rather use a wax sealant to protect your floor, you may need to reapply once a year.

Use a Natural Oil Finish

You can use natural oils in place of wax or polyurethane to prevent water damage to hardwood floors. Since oil and water don’t mix, the oil finish will serve as a good layer of protection. Unlike most sealants, natural oils don’t just sit on the surface of your hardwood floors. Instead, they penetrate deep into them and harden the wood to improve its durability.

If you’ve noticed any sign of water damage or require preventative refinishing services, count on Wall 2 Wall Hardwoods to protect and restore your beautiful hardwood floors. Don’t hesitate—contact us now for more information.

Hand vacuuming hardwood floor.

5 Tips to Help You Maintain Your Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors add a beautiful look and upscale feel to a home. A newly installed hardwood floor or recently renovated hardwood floor, however, is a costly investment in your property, and it requires some extra care when considering how to clean and maintain it. Whether you have installed solid wood, engineered wood, or even reclaimed wood flooring, the maintenance of your wood floors will be similar. Regular cleanings and upkeep will keep your hardwood floors looking pristine and add years of life to your home investment.

Each season brings different obstacles for your hardwood floors. During the winter months, you will be battling ice melt that gets tracked in on shoes and furry paws. Ice melt can eat away at unprotected wood flooring, and it should be removed promptly. The fall and spring months are wetter, and with family and friends tracking in wet leaves and mud, your wood floors will need to be regularly dried to prevent warping and mildew buildup. During the summer months, you may battle dripping swimsuits loaded with chlorine and saltwater after a day at the beach or pool, and that chlorinated or salty water will need to be cleaned up regularly to help maintain hardwood floors.

The experts at Wall 2 Wall Hardwood Floors offer some pro tips on how to keep your hardwood floors healthy and lasting for years to come.

1. Dry Mop and Vacuum Hardwood Floors Weekly

Leaving dirt that is carried in on shoes and furry paws on a hardwood floor can cause unwanted scratches. The debris acts as sandpaper, and as it’s walked on and spread across the hardwood floors, it will cause scratches that build up over time to make your floor look dull and scuffed up. By dry-mopping your floors weekly, you can prolong the bright glow of your hardwood floor. You can sweep with a traditional broom or, even better, use a microfiber cloth that will cling to the debris and remove any dust and allergens more easily.

Weekly vacuuming is important as well, as the suction can help remove the debris that has built up in between the floorboards. When using a vacuum on your hardwood floors, make sure to put the vacuum on the hard floor setting, which will switch off the bristles so they don’t scratch up your floors as you push the vacuum across the floor. Alternatively, you can use the non-bristle attachment that is meant for hardwood floors if your vacuum comes with one.

2. Clean Wood Floors With Wood Floor Cleaner Monthly

Dry mopping and vacuuming your floors are great ways to remove dust, but there is also debris buildup that happens over time that can slowly eat away at your hardwood floors. Cleaning your hardwood floors regularly with a wood cleaner recommended by your flooring manufacturer is an important step in keeping your wood floors in great shape.

Not all wood floor cleaners are meant for all hardwood floors. Depending on the finish on your flooring, your floors may require a certain type of cleaner. Check with your manufacturer to determine which is best to use on your floor. Most hardwood floors will do best with a floor cleaner that has a neutral pH. It is best to avoid floor cleaners with harsh chemicals when cleaning any type of hardwood floor.

When you have found the right cleaning product for your floors, make sure to use a damp cloth or mop to clean the floors, and avoid using too much water. Using too much water can cause your floorboards to warp and bow. Also, avoid steam cleaning your wood floors for the same reasons, as it can make your wood floorboards swell and cup.

3. Wipe Up Spills Immediately

Wood floors are very reactive to moisture, and so if there is a spill on your hardwood floor, it’s recommended to wipe up any wet spill quickly. Leaving moisture on a hardwood floor will cause the wood floorboards to swell, and they could warp and become misshapen over time, causing potential tripping hazards and unsightly warped flooring. Leaving wet spills on hardwood floors can also cause staining that can be difficult to remove.

To effectively clean up any wet spill on your hardwood floors, it’s best to use a dry or slightly damp cloth to wipe up the spill right away. This will avoid any moisture leaking in between the floorboards or into the wood, which will avoid any potential for swelling floorboards from the spill.

4. Use Furniture Pads on Furniture and Trim Pets’ Nails Regularly

Scratches can be difficult to remove once they are found on your hardwood floors. To maintain the good condition hardwood floors, it is recommended to use furniture pads on the bottoms of your chairs and heavy furniture. If the furniture is on the heavier side, it’s best to use a wider furniture pad to help spread out the weight. Consider attaching the furniture pads to your chairs, couches, tables, and any furniture that may be heavy or that you may move across the floor regularly.

Your pets’ nails can also cause scuffs and scratches on your hardwood floors. Keep your pets’ nails trimmed to avoid unwanted wear and tear on your hardwood floors.

5. Polish or Wax Your Hardwood Floors Twice a Year

Polishing your hardwood floors can help add a sheen to the wood and can also help extend the life of your flooring, making it a worthy task. Before polishing your floors, it’s a good idea to first dry mop the floor to remove any dust or debris. It’s also a good idea to vacuum your hardwood floors to remove any debris that may have built up between the floorboards. When choosing a floor polish, make sure it is a water-based polish to avoid any harsh chemical buildup.

If you are looking to refinish your hardwood floors or are interested in the installation or restoration of hardwood floors, contact the hardwood floor experts at Wall 2 Wall Hardwood.