What Causes Hardwood Floor to Crack?

Hardwood Floor CracksHardwood floors expand and contract naturally thereby causing cracks and warps. This is usually in response to changes in the immediate surroundings. Proper installation and preparation, as well as controlling the environmental factors will reduce the chances of this happening to your wood floors.

Cracks mostly occur where the hardwood floors are not acclimatized to your home environment before installation. At times, they are caused by improper installation and/ or exposure to overly dry air and excessive moisture. Cracking at the joints or edges can be attributed to the expansion of wood.

1. Cracks Between Boards

Changes in humidity and seasons also cause cracks. When you turn on the heater or HVAC unit, humidity levels are likely to plummet. This shrinks and creates spaces in between the boards.

These spaces should be expected. The good thing is that seasonal changes will close them up. To reduce these changes, you should consider adding moisture during the dry months, such as by installing a proper humidifier into your furnace.

2. Cupping

Crowning and cupping are natural reactions by the floors to moisture. If they occur to a minor degree, you should not be overly concerned. However, severe cases indicate serious moisture problems.

Cupping occurs when the edges of the board are high while the center is low. Although it is caused by humidity, it can also happen if water spills on the floor and is absorbed by the wood. This moisture will swell the wood, crush the board together and cause deformation at the edges. To repair these cracks, identify the cause of the moisture and deal with it.

Of course, you may have to control the humidity levels. Other causes include plumbing leaks in the basement. The good thing is that you can reverse cupping. Sometimes the floor dries out naturally and improves with time. Still, you can also use fans to speed up the drying process. After the hardwood floor dries, sand and finish it by re-coating.

3. Crowning

This is the literal opposite of cupping: the middle of your flooring boards are usually higher than the edges. This is also caused by moisture. It also happens when you sand the floor immediately after it cups. Sanding off will lower the edges once normal moisture content resumes.

4. Manufacture Issues

In case the flooring was not manufactured properly, then cracks are to be expected. Glued up panels sometimes look like they are made up of different pieces. This is commonly referred to as planking.

5. Panel End Splits

End splits and cracks can also crop up after your edge glue the panels. End splits also develop if your wood shrinks beyond a given span. The shrinking is caused by dryness in the immediate environment. This means that end splits occur when the panels are wetter than the surrounding air.

Solution to Cracking Hardwood Floors

Consider installing a humidifier during the dry months of winter. Over summer, the wood will contract, causing the floors to buckle slightly in response to the high humidity. Therefore, you should get a dehumidifier to reduce further cracking.

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