Will Buckled Hardwood Floors Go Back To Normal?

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Hardwood floors can face many problems and damages if not maintained properly over the years.

One of these problems is a buckled hardwood floor where the flooring boards can lift from edges, overlapping each other and forming a buckle on the surface.

It is an excellent way to stub your toe or get a sliver. However, many people fear having to replace the hardwood panels as the buckled floor might not return to normal.

Generally, buckled hardwood floors can always return to normal with proper repair methods. All you need to do is know the right way to repair it yourself or get help from a professional and your buckled hardwood floors will be restored to their original form.

Buckled Hardwood Floors Go Back To Normal

Stay tuned to know buckled hardwood floor causes and fixes.

What Are Buckled Hardwood Floors? | Will Buckled Hardwood Floors Go Back To Normal?

Buckled hardwood floors occur when your flooring boards lift from the edges of the subfloor or are humped in the center.

Hardwood floors are often damaged if not taken care of properly. Many people are aware of scratches, scuff marks, and normal wear, and tear but many do not know what a buckled hardwood floor is or how it can be solved.

While scratches or scuff marks can be cured with a varnish or a recommended cleaner, buckled hardwood floors are difficult to cure.

Hardwood floors contract and expand according to the weather. This does not mean they are breathing, but the temperature and humidity cause it.

What Are Buckled Hardwood Floors?

In summer, the high heat and moisture content makes the wood warm and moist, expanding and taking up more space.

In winter, the low temperatures and reduced moisture levels soak up any water content from the flooring, making it slightly shrink.

This is why flooring boards are placed in menial spaces from each other. However, during this process, some hardwood boards develop humps or swelling in either center or edges, while others lift at the edges.

In serious cases, the uplift of the edges can be too much, making you think that the floors are getting lifted from the subfloor.

If you see any of these signs, you must know that your hardwood floor is buckling. If not treated on time, the hardwood floors might need replacing.

What Causes A Buckled Wood Floor?

Loose subflooring is one of the major reasons for a buckled hardwood floor. When the hardwood panels are not tightly attached to the subflooring, there is a high chance that the edges of these boards will lift or curl.

This is often known as cupping, where the wedges swell and curl to form a cup, leading to your hardwood floors becoming detached from the subflooring and slowly lifting upwards.

While there are many reasons for this, water damage is the most prominent reason, which damages the subflooring and causes buckled hardwood floors.

It can happen suddenly when the subfloor is flooded by water, which damages the structure or can take place over time when the moisture builds up in the subflooring structure; slowly making it weak and vulnerable to the point where buckling takes place. This makes the wood floors bouncy as well.

What Causes A Buckled Wood Floor?

You don’t need to spill water on the floor every day for this to happen; small spillages which were ignored once and got soaked up into the surface can cause the moisture content to increase and may slowly deteriorate the structure of the subfloors.

However, natural reasons such as changes in seasons, rain, and other factors can also cause this moisture level to increase and have adverse effects over time.

As this process takes much time, it is likely that you may not know when this is occurring or has occurred, and your floors would already have been damaged.

Another reason for buckled floors is an improper installation which can include extra gapping, insufficient or non-suitable adhesive, inaccurate screws or nailing, and low-quality subfloor construction.

These can cause a buckled floor in only a few days after being installed in your house.

However, if this was the reason, you might want to avoid repairing it yourself, as re-installation or redoing some of the steps in construction might be necessary in this case.

Therefore, it is best to leave this task to professionals. The moisture can have the same effect on your laminate flooring and damage it similarly.

However, you can repair both using the same methods. Although the repairing methods are discussed later, the primary factors remain to remove excess moisture to dry the area and replace damaged tiles or boards with new ones.

If you’ve bought the flooring from a renowned company, they would also offer installation for your hardwood floors.

If so, you must opt for installation rather than trying to save money on cheaper installation solutions.

Doing so can save you from buckled floors and prevent additional repair costs in the future. Below are some of the factors which might cause your hardwood floors to buckle.

If you want to know the reasons and solutions of buckled hardwood floors in detail, I have written a detailed article on why my hardwood floor shakes when I walk that you may find helpful.

Buckled Hardwood Warning Signs

Buckled Hardwood Warning Signs

You should look for certain signs if you are worried that your hardwood floor has started or might start to buckle. These signs include:

Cracking or separation in hardwood boards.

  • Cupped edges: Cupping hardwood floors refers to the condition when the edges of the planks are lifted and might curl inward or outwards.
  • Crowning: This is the same as swellings or humping, where a certain area in the wood is puffed-up and becomes more prominent; the usual reason for this is excessive moisture content.
  • Lifting: This is the most serious sign where the board might separate from the subfloor or get lifted entirely.

Usually, if your hardwood floor receives constant damage or has sustained damage from any factor, you will see crowning and cupping most often.

However, if a sudden occurrence, such as a natural disaster or a severe pipe leakage, floods the subfloor, you will only see lifting on your hardwood floors.

Another common situation where lifting can be witnessed is when the signs mentioned above were ignored, and the hardwood floors were allowed to deteriorate further to the point where lifting occurred.

Determining The Extent Of Buckling Damage

Observing the signs on time and identifying the damaged area and root cause might save you a lot of time, effort, and money.

Identifying these factors at the right time can mean that your hardwood floors have not been damaged to the point where they can’t be repaired.

In most cases, only drying up the area of removing excess moisture can help; however, other cases require more attention.

This serious attention can range from fixing subflooring and making it sturdier to changing a few hardwood boards to remove the damaged ones and prevent others from getting rotten or buckled up.

If you notice buckling or preliminary signs of buckling on your hardwood floors, it is best that you attempt minor repairs rather than having to change the entire wooden flooring.

Minor Buckling Repair

Repairing a hardwood floor with minor buckling is easy. If you identify the signs beforehand, you can counter the problem when there is excess moisture and prevent it from proceeding to buckled floors.

A suitable way to do so is to remove the excess moisture using towels or paper cloths, which will help prevent any further water damage to the area.

Minor Buckling Repair

Then, you must clean the affected area with a suitable disinfectant that can properly clean the area and prevent molds or mildew from building up on the spot.

Moreover, you must dry the area afterward as collected moisture can cause serious disturbances in the structure of your hardwood floors.

It is preferred to vacuum the area a few times after disinfecting to ensure the excess moisture has left the area completely.

However, if you are lazy and want to spend only a little bit of time or effort on the drying process, you can use an electric fan to speed up drying.

In addition, raising the room temperature using a heater can also help to remove moisture quickly.

Another way to speed up this drying process is to use a dehumidifier in the area and keep it turned on for at least 24 hours.

In cases of minor buckling, once the moisture has been warded off, the buckled floors will return to normal.

However, if the boards are not returning to normal even after drying, you might need to replace the boards once and for all.

Tools Required For Fixing Buckled Hardwood Flooring

If your hardwood floors are a bit more damaged and can’t be cured with only drying.

You need to take up some other measures and attempt another repair technique before you think about hiring expensive professionals or replacing your entire hardwood flooring.

For attempting these repair methods, you are going to need some tools, which are as follows:

  • Pry bar
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Floor scraper
  • Chalk/grease pencil
  • Ruler/straight edge
  • Towels
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Electric fan
  • Circular saw

Additional Material

  • Flooring adhesive & nails: The use of nails, screws, or adhesives varies depending on your subflooring arrangement, so make sure you choose the right type and amount of material.
  • Replacement planks: These are the best option if some of the planks in your hardwood flooring are severely damaged. They can be used to replace the damaged boards rather than having to replace the entire flooring. These boards can either be the extra ones not used during installations or be bought from the hardwood store if necessary. However, if you are still looking for the same boards, buy natural wood boards but make sure to match the type of wood with the one you already have in your house. You can then stain it to match the look.
  • Heavyweights: These will be used to keep the hardwood floors in place once the glue has been applied to ensure they stick properly and no air pockets are developed.

If you are trying to fix your floors using the tongue-and-groove methods, you need to have exemplary skills in carpentry.

Moreover, proficiency in the tools such as the saw is also important if you want the project to succeed.

However, if you think you need to gain the required skills, it is best to seek professional services, or you will do more damage than repair.

How To Replace Damaged & Buckled Hardwood Flooring?

You can replace the buckled hardwood planks by cutting out the damaged ones and placing the newer ones in their place.

Although it is less troublesome to repair buckled hardwood floors, you need to follow the entire procedure accurately if you want to succeed at the task. Here is a step-by-step guide to how the repair is supposed to go:

  • Firstly, you need to identify the area which has been damaged on your hardwood floors, There are numerous mentioned above that you can use to identify the damaged area.
  • Once you have identified the area, use chalk or a grease pencil to mark it out. Using a ruler to draw straight lines around the edges is best for better accuracy.
  • Next, take a circular saw and cut the area you marked. It is preferred to cut along the edges to save yourself a lot of mess and hassle. Below is a suitable method to do so:
  • Cut the damaged board along the edges using your marking lines as guidance, and make sure you develop a distance of half an inch from the longboard edges.
    Secondly, you need to cross-cut the center of the area at an angle.
    Repeat the same method for all the boards you need to replace.
  • After that, you can use a pry bar or a chisel and hammer to remove the damaged board from your flooring panel. A suitable way is to place the chisel at a 45-degree angle against the boards. Then you can put slight pressure on the hammer until the board emerges. Make sure you don’t apply too much pressure or strike it, as it can also damage the neighboring boards. Another way to remove the boards is to break the cutting kerfs at the ends. This will allow the chisel to cross-cut directly through the center.
  • Now that the subflooring is exposed, you must take care of the extra moisture and try to soak it up using towels, kitchen rolls, etc. As mentioned before, you must disinfect, vacuum, and dry the area for the best results. Wait for the surface to dry completely before proceeding to the next step, or the humidity problem will not disappear.
  • Replacing the old hardwood planks with the new ones can be tricky as you first need to identify if they were glued, nailed, or screwed. This is because you must use the same method in most cases for replacement purposes. If the planks were glued previously, you must scrape the surface to remove remnants of the previous adhesive so you can apply a new one. Try to do it by hand and scrape it at an angle to complete the task within time. Besides, it is better to use an up-down motion for the best results.
  • To place the board into the space you’ve just cleared, you need to first cut it to the right dimensions for it to fit. You can either measure the space where you will place the board or measure the previous board (that you removed) beforehand to get the exact measurements. Another way is to place it over the area it has to be fitted in and trim it until it fits. However, this method is quite messy and inaccurate if you need to be more skilled.
  • Now that the board is cut to the right dimensions, it is time to place it into its place and attach it. If your hardwood plank was fitted with an adhesive solution, you must apply it evenly on the board’s surface and the subflooring. However, if the replacement boards are too many or were fitted with nails primarily, you can use nails. Place the boards into the right spot and use a farmer to drive the nails inside but make sure you don’t cause splinters in the wood. It is best to select the right size of nails according to the size of the boards and then thickness. Besides, you can use nailing in combination with gluing for extensive support.
  • If you used glue to fix the hardwood plank in place at any point, it is recommended to put some heavy weight on the boards to keep it pressed down. This will allow the adhesive to work more efficiently and will prevent any air gaps between the subfloor and the hardwood board. The recommended time is around 45 minutes for the weight to be placed on top as it helps the board to stick evenly from all places.

Tips To Avoid Buckled Hardwood Flooring

If you just installed your hardwood floors and are worried about them starting to buckle immediately, rest assured, as it won’t happen as long as you take care of them.

Tips To Avoid Buckled Hardwood Flooring

It is possible to avoid buckling using a few simple preventative measures. However, it is necessary that there is no problem with your subflooring before these measures can work:

Don’t Let Spills Stay

Wood is an excellent absorbent, and if you let spills stay on the surface, they will be absorbed into the hardwood planks as well as the subflooring.

Hence, your priority should be to prevent spills; however, if any occur, you must clean or wipe them off immediately.

If you ignore these spills, they will not only cause your hardwood floors to buckle but also promote molds to grow in your hardwood floors and the subflooring.

Look Out For Leaks

Leaks in water pipes are one of the greatest sources of humidity in hardwood floors, which causes buckling and other issues.

Hence, it is crucial to look out for leaks regularly, and if you see some strange activity on your hardwood floors, it is best that you get an inspection from a plumber immediately.

The most common places for leaks are sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, and underground water pipes.

Moreover, moisture often gets trapped in crawl spaces and saturates the area causing serious damage to your hardwood floors.

While regular inspection is an amazing way to keep this factor in check, you can also use a dehumidifier to ensure that your hardwood floors and the subflooring remain dry.

Avoid Certain Types Of Footwear

Footwear such as high heels or shoes with cleats can exert tremendous amounts of pressure, which is certainly not suitable for your expensive hardwood flooring.

Not only can it cause cracks which will allow moisture to seep in, but it will also increase the wear and tear of the hardwood floors.

Hence, placing rugs or carpets in high-traffic areas is best if such footwear is inevitable.

Don’t Wet Mop Too Often

Wood doesn’t go hand-in-hand with water and extensive wet-mopping can destroy your hardwood floors over time and can prove a major reason for buckling to take place.

Hence, it is important to wring out the mop before applying it on the floors and not use it too extensively. Besides, make sure to dry the surface completely after you are done.

Use The Right Products

Many people make the mistake of using random cleaning products on their hardwood floors. Whether you want to do general cleaning or deep cleaning, you must find a product that is suitable for the type of wood your flooring is made of.

Besides, make sure to check if the surface is porous/non-porous, sealed/non-sealed, and choose your cleaner accordingly.

In addition, it is recommended to clean the floor softly rather than going too harshly to prevent scratches.

Avoid Using A Shiner

Avoid using a shiner if your floors are not sealed, as the moisture can seep inside and cause buckling over time.

A suitable alternative is to buff the hardwood floors using a soft and dry buffing pad which is non-abrasive.

However, it is crucial to ensure that this pad must be appropriate for hardwood floors. All you must do is rub it in a circular motion along the grain of the wood, and you will be good to go.

Can Buckled Wood Floors Be Repaired?

Repairing buckled wood floors is possible if you are good enough at finding the root cause, which is making your floors buckle and warp.

Once you identify the reason you must eliminate it so that the repair process can be carried out without worrying about the same problem occurring again.

If the floor has buckled up due to excessive moisture content, you need to find the source of humidity before anything else.

While you do that, you must dry the hardwood floors and soak out all the excess moisture to prevent it from causing any further damage which can’t be repaired.

Once the floor is dry, you can do several things to restore your hardwood floors to their original form.

The first method is to do spot repair, which might include heat-drying the area to make the wood return to its normal condition. This is best used against crowning and swellings.

The second measure you can use involves the first one but another step of conditioning the wood to make it regain its original shape.

It is important to note that no pressure will be applied to the hardwood floors in this phase.

Thirdly, you can re-nail or re-glue the hardwood floors if you have experienced lifting. This can ensure that the planks are not strongly attached to the subflooring and will not come off again.

Lastly, if none of these work, you must go for the replacement of the damaged boards as there is no other way of repairing them. You can use the above-mentioned method to replace the damaged planks with new ones.

In most cases, the buckled hardwood floors can return to normal when the first three steps are performed.

However, it is necessary that you attempt these repair methods as soon as you see a sign of buckling and find out the cause.

If you delay the process or let the floors succumb to moisture, there is a high possibility that your entire hardwood flooring will be ruined and you will have to replace the entire room’s flooring.

A suitable way to prevent moisture from accumulating is to turn on fans or heaters momentarily, promoting water evaporation so your wooden surfaces can’t retain any water that might be harmful to them.

Maintaining your hardwood floors regularly can prevent them from buckling up; however, if they still do, make sure you find the root cause and try to repair them on time before the damage gets out of control.

Will Cupped Hardwood Floors Flatten Out Over Time?

Will Cupped Hardwood Floors Flatten Out Over Time?

With optimum treatment, the cupping can be reduced to a great extent, but there is no guarantee that the cupped hardwood floors will completely straighten out.

You can sand and refinish the boards for a final attempt, but with proper maintenance over time, there is a high chance that your hardwood floors will lose most of the cup.

Will Warped Wood Floor Go Back To Normal?

If the damage is minimal and you have tried the treatment on time, the warping will disappear, and your hardwood panels will return to normal shortly.

However, if you have allowed the boards to get damaged for a long time or if the hardwood floors still show signs of damage even after repair, you might have to replace them.

What To Do When Hardwood Floors Buckle?

If your hardwood floors are buckling, you must remove excess moisture from the surface and place weight on it, so it straightens out over time.

Next, you must find the source of excessive moisture or any problem in the subflooring and try to fix that as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

Repairing buckled hardwood floors is an easy task if you follow the instructions properly. The procedure is simple; find the root cause and fix it, and then attempt to repair the damaged boards. If not restored, then replace them.

However, it is preferred that you maintain your hardwood floors and prevent them from buckling.

Follow all the tips and repair methods to maintain or restore your hardwood floors so they may turn back to normal.

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