- CROWNING - BUCKLING
"Washboard". Across the width of one piece of the flooring
material, the edges are high, the center is lower. Generally
Moisture imbalance through the thickness is the only cause. The
material was manufactured flat and was flat when installed. Job site
or occupant provided moisture is greater on the bottom of the piece
than on the top. Prove it with your moisture meter. Find the source
of moisture and eliminate it. Common moisture sources and their
Airborne (Relative Humidity) - dehumidify air space or (lack of
during heating season humidify air space); wet basement - ventilate,
dehumidify; crawlspace groundcover/vents, add exhaust fan on timer;
lot topography - french drain to remove; rain handling provisions -
correct to drain away from house; excessive lawn/garden moisture -
reduce/waterproof foundation; leaks plumbing, roof, doors - fix;
don't hose patio; maintenance; correct capillary through slab -
install barrier, french drain, drain tiles. In kitchens, the
dishwasher and ice maker are notorious leakers.
Expansion is also the result of site moisture and may have moved the
floor tight to vertical surfaces. If so, remove flooring along the
wall, or saw cut, to relieve pressure.
Allow time. Time for the corrections to take effect - to permit the
floor to improve on its own. It may become acceptable . After
stabilized, sand flat and finish. Cost of corrections should be for
owner or builder to cover.
CROWNING, or the center of the piece of flooring (across
its width) is high, the edges are lower.
While moisture imbalance might be the cause (by excessive moisture
introduced on the finish side of the floor; i.e. water used in
maintenance, plumbing leaks overhead sprinkler system), it is more
likely that the floor was cupped (problem #I) and sanded flat thus
removing the outer edges, the sanding having been done at the wrong
time, i.e., before corrections were made and before the floor
flattened on its own.
After the floor has stabilized following corrections, sand flat and
finish. Note: Some slight cup and/or crown can and should be
tolerated. It is common in wood floors, especially in wider planks.
It is, in many cases, seasonal in its occurrence and can be
minimized with lighting and furniture placement, by using beveled
products and by other than high gloss finish.
"tented", "ballooning" floors. Pieces of the flooring are no longer
in contact with the substrate.
Generally an extreme moisture problem. See Problem #1 for sources
and corrections. Inadequate expansion space, even "net fit"
(installer error) prevents normal expansion. On nailed products,
insufficient nailing, incorrect nails, incorrect sub floor
construction. On glue down product, incorrect mastic, insufficient
mastic, wrong trowel used, inadequate mastic transfer, sub floor
separation, sub floor contamination.
If caught early, spot repair/replacement may be possible. In many
cases, however, pull, correct, and relay/replace is more practical.
NORMAL CRACKS-SEPARATION BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL
FLOORING PIECES-ABNORMAL CRACKS-LOOSE, NOISY, SQUEAKY
Mother Nature, Dryness. Should a floor have been exposed
to problems 1, 2, &3, then afterwards, "dried out" cracks will
develop. If subjected to extreme moisture, the edges of the
wood can crush and subsequent drying and shrinkage can present
larger than normal cracks. Square edge floors show cracks more
than beveled. Most cracks are seasonal, they show in dry
months, or the cold season when heating is required, and close
during humid periods.
Add moisture to the air space during dry periods. A constant
Relative Humidity (RH) of 50% works in concert with the manufacture
of wood floors to provide stability in the floor. Live with
normal cracks or add humidity--its the owner's choice.
LOOSE, NOISY, SQUEAKY FLOOR, NOISY, SQUEAKY
Inadequate nailing, flexing weak sub floor system, nailed over
particle board type sub floor. Check sub floor thickness and joist
direction. Insufficient or incorrect adhesive. Subjected to excess
moisture, excessive drying.
Add face nails, counter-sink&putty. Strengthen sub floor from below.
Inject adhesive or pull-add-relay. Lubricate squeaks with graphite,
wax, baby powder. Wedge sub floor up from joists.
Wood joist system - sub floor warped and loose, joists warped or
fractured, support pillars settled, perimeter foundation settlement.
Concrete slab system - slab
cracked and settled.
Correct, strengthen substructure, repair sub floor, splice joists,
add joists. Structural, failure is not the wood floor contractors
domain usually. Owner needs a general contractor for repairs prior
to wood floor corrections.
Quality or "Grade"- knots, heavy
color variation, out of-square, surface defects.
Consumer expectations, incorrect sampling, incorrect ordering,
mistake by supplier, manufacturer, installer error (should not have
Pull and replace offending pieces. Review samples with owner.
EARLY WEAR ON FINISH--SCRATCHES
Improper maintenance, grit, water, strong soaps, dog toenails, chair
Correct maintenance, especially vacuum, not just broom sweep. Clip
dog's nails, felt chair leg glides, appropriate exterior walk-off
mats to prevent grit, area rugs especially in front of kitchen
sinks. Re-coat if necessary - owner pays.
Stain not dry. Excessive burnishing. Early coats not dry. Skipped
screening between coats. Product incompatibility. Stain not
sufficiently wiped leaving heavy pigment on surface (is finish
peeling from finish or wood?), improper tack. Surface contaminated
such as wax, oil soap maintenance.
If de-lamination from wood surface, sand and refinish. If surface
only, screen and re-coat.
Customer expectation, poor sampling, lighting over the floor and
room colorings. In correct maintenance including residue of
cleaners, waxes, etc. (i.e., Oil Soap). Wood itself changes color
with age ("Patina"). Extreme hot sunlight through South/West facing
windows. Color different under rugs or low furniture from lack of
exposure. Bleaching is unpredictable - don't oversell expected
Compare with sample. Explain lighting and colors. Remove residue and
correct maintenance procedures. Move rugs and colors will even out
in time. Shade large windows.
High heels. Dropped heavy objects, metal tips on furniture legs.
Unprotected rolling of heavy appliances such as refrigerator or
Remove high heels or maintain proper heel-tip protectors. Provide
large felt or rubber protectors under heavy furniture legs. Roll
heavy casters over plywood protection only. For individual dents
where wood fibers are not broken, cover with a dampened cloth and
press with an electric iron to draw fibers up. Last resort sand and
finish - owner pays.
Water from spills, water from continual source leading to mildew
(black) or decay (brown/white) or alkali (white) or bleeding up of
adhesive. Urine (dark) from pets, wet diapers. Unprotected metal
chair legs. Improper maintenance with water or harsh chemicals.
Traffic pattern wear. Excessive harsh sunlight (wood looks starved
near South or West facing windows). Light deprivation under area
rugs, large low furniture. Be sure to observe if only one piece of
flooring is affected, or does the stain continue across adjacent
pieces. Oil soap residue.
Correct water source, let dry. Minimize sunlight. Relocate area
rugs. Correct maintenance procedures and products. Dark stains,
surface with fine sandpaper, feather out area,
dampen cloth with 50/50 household bleach & water and lay on stain
for 30 minutes, remove, let dry, re-color if necessary. Waxed
floors, clean with renovator or paint thinner (combustible) and
re-wax. Whiteness/cloudy surface finish, clean and buff. If all
fails, screen and coat, sand and refinish, replace severe boards.