If you own a house with hardwood flooring or are debating installing hardwood flooring, it’s extremely important to know how to care for your floors. This includes just taking care of them year round and also knowing when and what to look for or be aware of in terms of any cracking or gaps that may occur. Some of this is unavoidable, based on weather and humidity but it is good to be prepared for anything so that your floor does not retain any more damage or wear than necessary.
Ways to Fix the Cracks
- One thing to be aware of is that your hardwood flooring planks will expand and contract with changes in moisture. This means that although there may not have been any gaps during the summer months, especially if it was first installed then, that you may notice gaps and even splits in the wood as the winter months come around. This is caused by the heating of your house as the weather gets colder and dryer which then dries out the wood flooring, causing it to contract. One way to help prevent this from happening, or at the very least, lessen the effects, is to adapt your heating system with a humidifier. By doing this, you’re regulating the moisture in the air and it should help to close up the gaps and keep them to a minimum during those winter months.
- Rule of thumb for hardwood floor gaps is if the gap is smaller than the width of a dime, then the gap is normal and you shouldn’t worry about it.
- One extremely temporary fix is to use talcum powder, which is mostly helpful on a loose floor that is squeaking due to the cracks. You can fill the crack with the talcum powder to muffle the squeaking until you can fix the crack and once you’re ready to fix the crack, you can simply just vacuum out the powder from the crack.
- When your wood begins to crack, it is best to try and fix it as soon as possible. There aren’t any truly permanent solutions as the wood is constantly changing somewhat due to weather and wear, but there are ways to fix minor problems and help prolong the life of your wood floors. Cracks that are under 1/8 of an inch can be filled with wood putty that matches your floors. You will need to use a putty knife to fill the crack and then once the putty has dried, you’ll need to scrape off and sand down any excess putty. Any cracks that are 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch wide will need to be caulked with a polyurethane caulk that matches the color of the floor. For cracks over 1/4 of an inch, you’ll want to use backer rods before caulking. Anything that is much wider than ¼ of an inch should be refinished or replaced all together. At that point, you should also have a structural engineer come to look at the damage to do an assessment as well.
- Buckling is another issue that can occur in wood floors. Buckling is when the boards warp and lift up from the subfloor they were attached to. If this occurs, you will need to contact a hardwood installer to take a look at the problem and determine the cause. You will then need to ensure that your hardwood flooring is securely attached to the subfloor so that they do not buckle again.
- Cupped floors, or wash boarding occurs when the edges of the planks rise up but the center sinks down. This is caused by a moisture imbalance where there is more water on the bottom side of the plank than the top. The only way to fix this is to adjust the humidity levels in your home and give it time to return to normal and once this is done, you can have the planks sanded and refinished.
- Warped floors, which can also be known as sagging, can be a severe problem for any homeowner with hardwood flooring. Warped floors are caused by a serious moisture problem in the house and should be addressed immediately. This issue is very rarely caused by faulty hardwood or installation, but is instead caused by moisture issues within the home that need to be taken care of.