Hardwood Floor Cupping

Tips by Real-Estate-Agents.com

Q: We have a one-year-old hardwood floor that started cupping in the spring or earlier. The boards are four-inch red oak. The installer is claiming no responsibility for the problem. He blames customer abuse and moisture problems as the cause.

Could you tell me if there any other reasons for a floor to cup besides high moisture? Is a moisture barrier between a cellar and a first floor supposed to help prevent moisture trouble? Can there be problems with installation? Can there be problems with sealing and sanding? Can there be problems with the initial product? Can an installer blame the customer for high moisture content in their home with no proof?

We just had a major flood from a washing machine on the first floor. No water went towards the new wood floor. When checked by a moisture meter, there was no moisture problem there. However, the moisture throughout the cellar was way above normal. If that is the case, wouldn't a moisture reading show up on the new floor when the cellar is the wettest it has ever been?

If you cannot answer all these questions, please refer me to someone who can, and someone who can tell us how to handle customer complaints to a big business.

A: Is this a solid wood product or an engineered product? Solid planks will expand and contract more than an engineered product. Four-inch planks will expand and contract more than smaller planks, and parquet flooring rarely has these problems because it is made of many small pieces of wood.

When an installation occurs, most installers check the sub floor for moisture content. They will not install a product if the level of moisture is too high. A solid wood floor is almost always installed with a moisture barrier between the sub floor and the flooring to help control moisture emission.

Sealing and sanding could also be a factor. If a floor is too dry when installed unfinished, or too damp and the climate changes, the floor will cup or peak, the opposite of what it was at time of installation.

Wood floors are a living product which have capillaries that carry moisture throughout the planks. Homeowners do affect the humidity and moisture content in their homes in many ways. Moisture emissions from cooking, showering, carpet cleaning, and your water damage are all factors which could cause a floor to cup or peak.

When your home flooded from the washing machine, the humidity in the entire home increased as the moisture evaporated into the environment. Humidity seeks an equilibrium between the rooms and as well as the inside and outside environments. This could cause moisture problems in a wood floor in an entirely different part of the house, making a settlement with the installation contractor or manufacturer very difficult.

Try a desiccant dehumidifier to help your floors level out. You may be able to go to a rental yard for this piece of equipment, but consider contacting a water damage specialist because they have the tools and meters to measure the levels of success in moisture removal.

One other item to remember, most floors do change in their appearance as the seasons change. Humidity in the summer is much less than the fall. In climates that have a lot of snow, like Minnesota, the humidity in the winter may drop so low that wood may split and dry out. This is where using a humidifier to add moisture to the air could be beneficial.

For the most appropriate information and advice about a specific project, it is advisable to have some local experts come take a look. They may find grounds to help you file a successful complaint against the original installation or product.

To locate some water damage and hardwood professionals, visit Service Magic and enter a service request to be matched with the ideal service professional in your area.

-- Tips courtesy of Service Magic

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