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Problems: Buckling

piano

Buckling is one of the most severe issues homeowners can face when dealing with hardwood flooring. This is where the wood literally detaches from the subfloor bowing upward and or breaking completely. It’s caused by adding extreme amounts of humidity or moisture directly to the hardwood floor.  Unless you’ve experienced a broken pipe or flooding caused by a natural disaster, buckling doesn’t happen first without other warning symptoms such as crowning or cupping. For more information on crowning or cupping issues, see our article Problems: Cupping and Crowning.

Buckling can occur when:

    • When slight cupping or crowning turns into extremely noticeable cupping or crowning and is ignored or left unchecked for long periods of time and then extra moisture is introduced.
    • If your floor was “floated” over the subflooring and there are extremely heavy objects over the top of it without coasters or other methods in place to help properly distribute the weight. For example if you have hardwood flooring freely sitting on top of another floor, placing heavy appliances or heavy furniture like a piano or pool table directly on top of it, may force part of it “down” as if that part of the floor was securely nailed to the floor below. This hinders the slight movements of the rest of the floor from freely moving and can put extreme amounts of pressure on other parts of the floor causing the floor to buckle.
    • If the proper extension gap was not used during installation, which can place unequal and extreme amounts of pressure on various parts of the floor.

Preventions:

As with many home repairs, preventative maintenance is often cheaper than waiting until it’s too late. If you’re at the point where you’re experiencing cupping or crowning, consider taking the time now to control the humidity levels in your home with the use of humidifiers or dehumidifiers. Applying fans to the floor can help reduce the amount of moisture in the planks at a faster pace.

Considerations:

Once the floor has buckled, you, family members or visitors to your home may find themselves in situations where they will need to be extra vigilant to avoid tripping, falling or becoming scraped by potentially sharp wood edges. We recommend you contact a professional hardwood flooring installer to help you identify the full cause of the buckling and to help repair your floor properly. Because extreme moisture conditions are the most common reason for buckling, be prepared to potentially deal with some molding issues that may exist in the area and or surrounding areas of the buckling.