3 Common Hardwood Flooring Problems And Their Prevention
Updated: Dec 2, 2019
The appeal of hardwood flooring is how natural it is. Being natural also means that it is prone to damages if not taken care of. It is no doubt that hardwood flooring lasts a long time – only if it is well maintained. It is a good idea to invest in maintenance works for your timber flooring so as to save cost in the long run. With regular maintenance and taking precautions to prevent damages from occurring, timber flooring can last a lifetime.
Here are 5 common problems that hardwood flooring may encounter and how you can prevent them.
1. Cupping & Crowning
Cupping and crowning is when the centre width of the wooden planks are not levelled with its edges. It occurs when hardwood floors continuously expand and contract due to fluctuating humidity levels. If the centre width of the wooden planks is higher than its edges, it is crowning. It is an indication that the interior humidity levels are higher than the levels below your home. If the centre width is lower than the edges, creating a U-shape, it is cupping. This means the interior humidity levels are lower than that of the level below. (E.g basement)
In Singapore's hot and humid climate, it is important to run an adequate amount of air conditioner once in a while. Switching on the bathroom vent and stove vent when taking showers and cooking respectively, can help to reduce the fluctuation of humidity levels. It is also a good idea to consider installing a dehumidifier. Water leakage left unattended can cause changes in humidity levels too. Be sure to check your plumbing regularly so as to ensure that here are no water leaks going unnoticed for long periods of time.
The number one most asked question regarding hardwood flooring is "how to prevent scratches?". First, let us start by saying all hardwood floors scratches. Because of the nature of wood, it is only a matter of time before scratches are seen on your hardwood flooring. There is no way to prevent scratches on hardwood floorings but here are some tips to minimise them and prolong the life of your hardwood.
By far, the #1 culprit for scratches on hardwood floors is dirt/grit, so do whatever you can to minimise this. Sweeping and cleaning your wood floors everyday is a good practice to get rid of dirt and grit. Avoid roller chairs if you can because dirt tends to get caught in between the wheels and can scratch your hardwood floors. Other common practices like lifting chairs instead of dragging them and adding felt pads to furnitures can really go a long way.
We recommend customers to sand and recoat their hardwood floors every 3-4 years, depending on situation. This is preventative maintenance and it is good to invest. Maintaing wood floors once every few years can prevent further damages that will cost a lot more to fix.
3. Water Damage
The damaging effect of water on wood builds over time. By the time you notice a change in your wood floor, the water has already hurt the floor. One of the first signs that water has damaged your floor is cupping of individual planks, or crowning of several planks, creating a hump in the floor. Another sign that water has damaged your floor is black or dark staining along the edges of a plank or broader stains across several planks. This staining is most often caused by a combination of mould growing, the tannins in the wood turning color as they react to prolonged contact with minerals in the water, and occasionally rust appearing along the edges of the board where nails exist.
An occasional spill won’t cause mould to form or the tannins in the wood to turn colour or even create a cupped appearance. Persistent moisture over time is required for these problems to manifest themselves. Always check your plumbing to make sure there is no leakage. Poorly installed windows can cause rain water to seep underneath the frame, thus damaging the timber flooring. If you notice signs of water on the drywall in the form of peeling paint or staining, it is time to seek professional help.