The Menace Of Cupping And Crowning

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The Menace Of Cupping And Crowning

The Menace Of Cupping And Crowning

These are two common complaints with wood floors, caused by the moisture absorption attributes of the structure. Slight contractions and expansions of the hardwood planks are expected as they react to the atmospheric changes within the premises. However, this can go overboard- leading to the cupping or crowning. Let’s delve into them, and how they should be addressed.

Cupping explained

The hardwood planks that are affected here develop a concave shape instead of being flat as required. Basically, excessive moisture that is beneath the floor is absorbed by the wood from the underside of the planks. This results in an imbalance with the moisture levels towards the top, causing the affected boards to begin to swell. The edges are pushed upwards, and a dip forms in the middle of the plank. In a nutshell, the bottom of expands, the sides well, and the top sinks inwards, resulting in the concave shape. The excessive moisture can be as a result of improper insulation underneath the boards, a broken waterline, or it was simply a case of wet mopping, where the water seeped through the planks and increased in concentration at the bottom of the boards. In addition, cupping can occur when the air above the boards is too dry, as it will result in a steep moisture gradient within the hardwood.

Dealing with cupping

The first step is identifying the source of the excessive moisture, and having it addressed- otherwise any other measure will just be wasted effort. The cupping will recur unless the cause of the moisture imbalance is resolved. After this, allow the floor to acclimate to the surrounding environment. The floors sanding can then be carried out to even out the surface, followed by applying the recommended finish treatments for your particular type of installation. 

How crowning occurs

This is basically the opposite of cupping. Here, the convex shape is formed, with the middle of the affected planks rising higher compared to the edges. The end result is an arch that sticks out of the floor like a bump. The primary cause of crowning is also an imbalance of the moisture levels. However, in this case the gradient is reversed, with the moisture concentration being greater towards the top of the boards, and less towards the bottom. Crowning can be caused by water that remains on the surface for too long- be it as a result of wet moping or spills that are ignored and left to remain on the floor. It is also a common occurrence during the warmer months, where the interior space has higher relative humidity levels compared to the cooler months, which results in the wood absorbing more moisture from its environment, leading to the swelling. 

Dealing with crowning

Just as with cupping, the first priority is pinpointing where the excessive moisture is coming from, and then fixing it. This should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid permanent water damage. The affected area is then allowed to dry out and acclimate, after which the floor sanding and refinishing is carried out. If the cause of the water problem is not identified early the damage can become so extensive such that the quick repair becomes unfeasible, which would necessitate the floorboards to be replaced. 

Bring In The Experts For The Floor Sanding Process

Hiring rookies for the task, or dealing with the cheapest services available, always comes at a cost. What’s more, it’s the client who always gets the short end of the stick. It can be monetary, in which case damages are made to the property, and repairs will need to be made. It can also be the case of slow services that delay the rest of the finishing process. This is because, in order to offer very low prices, there have ben compromises that have been made. The company may have hired personnel who are not proficiently trained for the task, or be using equipment that doesn’t have the capacity needed to deliver a quality job quickly. The rookie company may have also chosen to skip out on getting insurance, meaning that you will be exposed to liabilities in case of an accident while the job is being carried out. 

What of the dust? Improper handling of the dust generated during the floor sanding brings about different problems, with the most immediate being the huge cleaning job that will be needed due to the mess formed. The sanding dust also poses health risks from allergic reactions, to respiratory issues since the fine particles that are inhaled can get right to the lungs, causing scarring that reduces lung capacity. What’s more, the dust is a mixture of irritants, toxins and carcinogens, and you don’t want the persons on the premises being exposed to these agents. Then there is the risk of fire, due to the inflammable nature of the sanding dust. Adequate safety measure need to be put in place, and with a company offering rock-bottom prices, this is unlikely to be the case. The quality of the results is also key. Mistakes made during the floor sanding will be made more prominent when the finish treatments have been applied. It can get so bad that the entire project needs to be repeated, which ends up costing you heavily in the long run.  Things don’t have to take this road. Get the job done right the first time around, to the expected quality standards, by turning to the professional floor sanding services. 


How To Prevent Cupping And Crowning

After addressing the source of the moisture problem, plus getting a floor sanding and refinishing carried out, you want to protect your installation and prevent a recurrence of the cupping or crowning. There are two main control measures:

  • The first is maintaining consistent atmospheric conditions within the indoor environment. This entails adapting appropriately to the seasonal changes. By nature, the wood floors will expand over the summer and shrink during the winter due to the changes in temperature. Having a humidifier or dehumidifier in place will enable you to maintain constant levels of humidity. 
  • The second is addressing water issues on the wood floor as soon as possible. Even when the surface has been treated with a finish coat, any spills that winds up on the floor should be cleaned up immediately. In addition, wet mopping is ill-advised. Rather, one should rely on specialized wood floor cleaning products. Mats are recommended for the areas where there is a high susceptibility for spills, like at the sink, or under the pet bowl.

The Menace Of Cupping And Crowning

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