Why did this solid wood floor buckle?

Such a common problem with wood floors is buckling. This is classically seen with a raised hump in a section of the floor that can be a scary sight and look expensive and time consuming to put right. Which isn’t far from the truth..

Buckled solid wood floorHere we can clearly see what the buckled floor looks like. Not a pleasant sight at all and often down to a few simple errors.

In this particular instance the main culprit was a lack of adequate expansion. For a start, this solid oak floor was installed as an overlay. A big no no in the world of solid wood flooring. This type of floor should always be installed directly to a sub-floor either by secret nailing or the use of adhesive. They should never be overlaid. However, the installer may have got away with this if they had left adequate expansion clearance around the perimeter of the floor.

A wood floor will ALWAYS expand during it’s life. When it expands, it should be given room to do so. Any point where it is hitting a solid object, like a wall or perhaps even a door frame, will prevent the solid wood floor from expanding. However, in nature the force of expansion is a powerful one. Just because the floor doesn’t have room to expand, doesn’t mean it will stop expanding. So when the wood floor can’t expand around the perimeter, the weakest point to release this expansion pressure will let itself be known and often does so in the form of a hump.

In the case of this floor, expansion (or not enough expansion) wasn’t left around the fireplace, walls and even radiator pipes! The latter being the biggest problem, as not enough expansion around radiator pipes can result in the floor putting a huge amount of pressure against the pipes with the potential for rupturing them. Time to get a plumber in, more money down the drain!

Can I give you any advice that will save you time, money and heart ache? Yes I can.

If you’ve had a wood floor that has been overlaid and which has buckled, you may actually be surprised to read that the fact the floor has buckled can be a good thing! The section that has lifted is the excess release of expansion energy and in some circumstances can be looked at as a kind of release valve. By using something like a multi-tool, mark out (or request your original installer do this) around half an inch away from any points the floor is grounding and cut these marked out sections out.

As soon as all the marked out wood has been removed, you should see the hump drop or when given gentle downward pressure, it should return back and sit level with the sub-floor in it’s original state.

I have to say that there is no guarantee that the buckled section of flooring isn’t damaged. In the instance illustrated above, the overlaid wood floor would have been pva glued along the tongue and groove. Buckling to a wood floor that has been installed in this way would most certainly result in the pva adhesive rupturing. Leaving no bond and no joint integrity, often resulting in plank separation in the near future.

If spotted in time and expansion space created as soon as possible, you may have had a close escape with the infamous buckled floor!

© Copyright 2013 Wes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Fitmywoodfloor

I am a Pergo trained professional installer of 20 years. I've been up close and personal with lots of floors and have the knobbly knees to show for it...Should you have any questions or comments please feel free to add them below. Thanks for taking the time to call by and I hope the information you've found has given you some insight!........................................................................................................................................................................“When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in the site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network, amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr, amazon.de, amazon.it, amazon.ca, affiliate window network.” This statement is to comply with current internet regulations regarding transparency to consumers.

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