Why is my floor buckling?
Wood floors can expand and contract with the seasons and changes in humidity. This is why a wooden floor is installed with this in mind. This is why hardwood floors are not pushed in from one side to the other. This allows for expansion and contraction. Wood flooring that has been subject to moisture (e.g. water damage or high humidity) will gradually absorb moisture and expand. The floor can buckle if it expands too much and is not sealed properly.
How do I determine if my hardwood floor is damaged?
Hardwood floors absorb moisture slowly. The boards slowly begin to swell as they absorb more moisture. The swelling is known as cupping. Both edges of the board rise and form a “cup” shape. Your floor will appear wavy and not flat.
Your floor will expand in thickness as moisture is absorbed. Additionally, the floor will also begin to stretch side to side. This causes the gap between your floor and the wall to shrink until the floor is unable to expand further. This is when buckling begins. The boards will then be forced upward because they can’t expand sideways. There is no way to save the floor once this happens.
What Hardwood Floors are at Risk from Water Damage?
Any hardwood flooring can be damaged by water. While some flooring can be saved if it is repaired quickly, others are not.
Solid Hardwood A single piece of hardwood, typically 3/4″ thick, is installed, sanded and finished onsite. You can choose from oak, maple or hickory floors, as well as pine and other types of wood. These floors are most resistant to water damage because they absorb water slowly. However, they can be restored if damage is dealt with quickly.
Prefinished Solid Hardwood This pre-finished hardwood is sanded at the factory and finished. These hardwoods are very durable and can withstand water damage just like solid hardwood. The only problem is that they can be difficult to dry, and sometimes irreversible damage can occur to their finish.
Engineered Hardwood These floors are manufactured and their nature is determined by the materials used. They will be affected by water in different ways depending on the materials. These floors are often called “was wood” by restoration workers because while it was once wood, it is now something else. Engineered wood floors can be dried if they are damaged by water, but the floor may need to be replaced if the finish is damaged.
Laminate Flooring – These floors can be damaged by water. Their top layer, or finished layer, is thin and can warp if they are over-wetted. A lot of times, the padding (or plastic barrier) that cushions the floor is used. Water can cause the padding to become wet. Once this happens, it is impossible to remove the flooring and then the padding.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring This flooring is very resistant to water damage. However, it can still be damaged. These floors can be damaged by water. The subfloor and vinyl planks should be dried after which the vinyl planks may be reinstalled.
What types of moisture can damage my floors?
The main causes of moisture buildup in flooring are flooding, which can happen quickly or slowly as the flooring absorbs excessive moisture. The main reasons are:
- Leakage of pipes
- Icemaker leaks
- Dishwasher supply lines
- The subfloor was wet and the floor was laid.
- Humidity buildup
- Humidity can increase when there is not enough ventilation for a prolonged period.
- Incorrect installation (no room for expansion).
How do I repair floor damage or buckling?
It is difficult and specialized to dry hardwood floors. Water can only be removed as slowly as it absorbs. A hardwood floor can’t be dried with towels and a fan. This job requires special drying equipment.