High-quality hardwood floors are gorgeous and long-lasting. They offer an elegant look and comfortable feel that’s hard to match. In many ways, they’re the gold standard of hard flooring. But they have a sensitive side and are susceptible to damage from moisture and humidity. It can feel like a catastrophe when your hardwood gets warped or damaged, but there are proven strategies for protecting your investment in hardwood and for dealing with warping if it occurs.
What Are The Signs of Warping In Hardwood Floors?
If your floorboards change in shape, seem uneven or seem to lift from the subfloor, you’re probably dealing with warping. Some of the most common types include:
- Buckling: when floorboards lift from the subfloor, creating tent-like peaks.
- Cupping: when your floorboards dip inward in a cup or bowl shape. It usually occurs when moisture hits the boards from the bottom, as with appliance leaks and plumbing issues.
- Peaking: when your floorboards seem to rise in waves. It’s often related to poor installation when boards don’t have enough room to contract and expand because of temperature and humidity changes.
What Causes Warped Hardwood Floors?
Humidity and moisture are the primary causes of warped hardwood. Sometimes water damage can involve a leak or another incident you’re not even aware of. One spill usually isn’t enough to cause your floor to warp. But if you don’t catch it, even an ice cube left on the floor can cause your planks to lift and deform. Some of the most common causes of warping include:
- Too much mopping or wet cleaning.
- Appliance or plumbing leak.
- Water flooding in from outside.
- Long-term exposure to humid air.
How Can I Prevent Warping?
The best way to prevent warping is to keep your hardwood from getting wet. Some tips include:
- Ensure your doors and windows are properly sealed to keep the elements out.
- Check your appliances and plumbing for leaks regularly and be aware of early warning signs.
- If you have a duct cleaning, power washing or another service involving water, check for signs of standing water after work is complete.
- Regulate your temperature and humidity. Keep your climate control consistent, open windows on temperate days and use a dehumidifier when the air is damp.
- Use recommended cleaning products and don’t over-mop your hardwood.
- Clean even minor spills promptly.
- Ask your installer about polyurethane finish for your hardwood to add an extra layer of protection.
Can I Fix Warped Hardwood Floors Myself?
If you have warped hardwood, the first step is to identify the water source and stop it if it’s ongoing. This will prevent damage from getting worse and spreading to other areas of your home. One reliable DIY solution involves using a dehumidifier. It takes patience and time, but in some cases, we recommend giving it a shot before calling in the pros.
- Place a dehumidifier over the area and “tent” it with a tarp or similar material so that it targets only the affected area (we want to avoid drying out the rest of your flooring). Let the area dry for five to seven days, then remove the dehumidifier and wait. It can take several weeks for boards to settle back in place, but this approach is often successful for less severe damage.
When Should I Call A Professional for Warped Hardwood Floors?
If you have severe warping, it’s best to get a professional assessment. Your installer has several options, including replacement and repair.
- Sanding can often restore the shape and appearance of warped hardwood, especially in cases of cupping. However, it may not work for buckled planks.
- Refinish with a polyurethane coating to protect your planks from humidity and water.
- You can remove and replace the affected floorboards without pulling up the entire floor. Your installer can usually match your original flooring.
There’s nothing quite like the joy of hardwood. It remains the material of choice for a timeless look and durability. But hardwood has a delicate side, and it can seem dramatic when damage occurs. But there’s usually no cause for alarm. The Loudoun Valley Floors team has decades of experience installing and caring for hardwood. If you have warped planks, we’ll assess and advise you on the best approach to replacement or repair.