6 Common Problems Facing Wood Floors
While they are strong and durable structures, capable of withstanding the heavy footfall that is witnessed in commercial establishments and modern-day busy homes, and even have protective finishes applied on them to increase their wear resistance, it doesn’t make then invincible. Wood flooring is still susceptible to damage over time. Some of them can be avoided or delayed with proper maintenance, while others are simply results of external issues where the affected flooring is simply part of the damage in the building- like those flooding incidences. Here is a look at common problems that are usually witnessed when it comes to wood flooring:
- Excessive wear and tear
Every wood floor will eventually wear out- but when your installation deteriorates in just a year or two after it was finished, then there is something definitely wrong. Causes vary from issues like the floor not being sanded properly before application of the finish products, insufficient drying time being allowed between the subsequent coats that were used, all through to routine maintenance being ignored. The floor sanding needs to be done to quality standards- exposing the bare wood for the finish coats to be applied onto it and bond with the structure, and the instructions on the product label of finish products used being followed to the letter. The routine dusting and damp mopping is also key, to deal with the dirt that accumulated on the floor on a daily basis.
- Permanent gaps
Gaps forming in wood floors is normal. They are usually a phenomenon that is caused by the seasonal changes in the moisture levels, caused by fluctuations in the temperature and relative humidity levels of the surrounding space. For the indoor heating that is normally carried out over the winter, the flooring dries up and it loses moisture, causing it to contract. On the other hand, the humid summer months see the wood absorbing more water, thus expanding. However, when the gaps being too big and irregular, then it’s a sign that there’s more than meets the eye. For instance, with the floor was too wet when it was being installed, the gapping that will occur afterwards as the wood dries up will be abnormal. When the wood planks are installed in sections such as over heating ducts, near the fireplace, or the area receives lots of directs sunlight, then there will be excessive drying. The gaps are usually repaired as part of the floor sanding process, since the dust that is generated can be mixed with filler products to retain consistency with the properties of the rest of the flooring. The timing of this is critical. The wood should be sufficiently acclimated to its surrounding environment.
This has different causes. The floor installation may be on top of a wet basement. Perhaps the vapour barrier that is between the floorboards or subfloor is perforated, allowing rising damp to get through. It may even simply be a case of a water spill that was allowed to remain unattended to for too long. For the cupping, the bottom of the affected boards is wetter than the top, which leads to the edges rising higher as the wood expands. This leads to the ‘cupping’ effect. Usually, resolving the moisture issue will fix the cupping problem. However, there are cases where the deformation has become permanent. In order to make the surface flat, floor sanding will need to be carried out. The moisture content of the floor will need to be analysed before this is carried out. This is to avoid sanding the raised edges too soon, and ending up with crowned boards after the floors have dried out. This brings us to the next issue.
The middle of the wood planks here gets to be higher than the surrounding edges- basically the opposite of cupping. Addressing the cause of the moisture problem is key as well, before going to the next step of carrying out the repairs.
What happens when the floorboards absorb too much moisture- after there isn’t room to expand? They buckle. Here, the planks simply get crushed together and, due to the strain, lift off the subfloor. This is in extreme cases of water damage- like when there has been flooding. It also occurs when the floor installation was carried out when it was too dry, thus there is insufficient allowance for the expansion that would take place afterwards as the floor acclimated to the environment. With buckling, even the door frame can be moved, and the trim popped from the wall. The issue is worsened in cases where the fastening was improperly done. Nails of the wrong size being used, or when they have been spaces too far apart, using trowels of the wrong size when fixing the glue-down installations where the resultant bond between the wood planks and the subfloor is weak- these are all contributing factors to the effect.
- The finish peeling off
This is due to blunders being made during the finishing stage. For instance, before the lacquers, varnishes and similar products are applied, the floor needs to be clean. Dust- such as that generated from the floor sanding process, needs to be effectively got rid of, otherwise the particles landing on the wet layer of finish will contaminate it, preventing it from curing properly. This, plus other kinds of dirt that are allowed to get into the coats of finish, will lead to them flaking or peeling off. In other cases, it is the result of the surface itself not being properly prepared. For instance, when the floor sanding is carried out to extremely high grits- yielding a very smooth surface, it will be problematic for the finishing process that is to follow. This is basically burnished wood, where the surface has become too smooth for the wood stains and finish products to adhere properly to it. Oversights like not lightly sanding in between subsequent coats of application also contribute too this, and peeling also occurs when incompatible finish products are used. Fixing a peeling floor simply involves sanding it back down to the bare wood, and redoing the finishing process.