A common problem that hardwood floor owners suffer from is cupping and buckling. For those of you unfamiliar with this issue, it’s a warping or malformation process that happens to wood flooring after it’s been exposed to humidity or moisture over long periods of time. The wood will draw in and retain the moisture, then when the wood dries, it will cause your flooring to warp due to the water particles distorting the wood at the molecular level. This unfortunate process can happen to any age of wood flooring, new or old.
Now you’re probably asking yourself, “How would indoor wood flooring become exposed to moisture when it’s installed inside of my home?” Generally wood floors are exposed to moisture through two ways. The first is standard humidity, whether it be caused by the outdoor humidity levels in your local geographic area, or whether it be humidity coming from inside of your home due to higher than normal ground water saturation levels. Another common source of water in homes are burst basement water lines, some of which can go unnoticed for months or even years, getting noticed only after substantial damage has been done to your floors or the internal framing and structure of your home.
Protecting your wood floors from adsorbing moisture is very important, as it can substantially reduce the chances of cupping and buckling. The surface of wood flooring should always be properly sealed with a glazing, waterproofing stain, or transparent sealant. Furthermore, you should always make sure that your flooring is resting on waterproofed and insulated layering that completely protects the underside of your boards. One of the main tenants to properly installing wood floors is to make sure that they will be properly protected from water damage for years to come. If you cut corners when installing your floors by not following proper installation protocol, then you are likely going to be setting yourself up for water damage in the near future.
When home owners first notice that their flooring is cupping and buckling, they generally attempt to blame it on defective flooring materials. However, upon further inspection, most cases where this damage begins to happen are usually caused by water getting into the wood from within the house, or are due to the floors not being properly installed or sealed. Only in a minority of cases is cupping and buckling caused by defected flooring products.
If you’re a home owner who has recently noticed cupping and buckling in your wood flooring, your first action should be to look for a source where water is getting into your floor boards. If you are unable to find a source of water getting into your flooring, then your second task should be to inspect the surface and underbelly sealing of your flooring. If water isn’t getting into your flooring, and the boards are properly sealed, yet warping is still occurring, then at that point you might be able to consider that your floor board materials are somehow defective.