Floor Cupping: What You Need To Know

Even though hardwood floors are very durable, you can still see problems from time to time. It’s never fun to walk into a room and notice something off about your flooring—especially if the damage is obvious, as is the case with cupped floors. Fortunately, floor cupping doesn’t have to mean the end of the world, or even the end of your beautiful flooring. Both owners of engineered and solid hardwood flooring will experience this issue. When you understand what’s happening and what caused the problem, you can do your best to fix your floors and prevent cupping from happening in the future. You can do the right thing for your hardwood floors by reading this overview about floor cupping.

What Is Floor Cupping?

Cupping is a wood floor’s natural reaction to moisture. Engineered and solid hardwood both contain real wood which will warp when it absorbs water. If water seeps into a plank wood flooring, it will expand on the side closest to the moisture. Cupping is when the edges of a board are higher than its center, creating concave shapes. Cupped floors not only affect the appearance of a space, but can also lead to structural problems. The wood can expand and cup over time, causing gaps between the floorboards. As the wood contracts, it can create more problems as the damage could cause the subfloor to buckle. The individual planks may also start to crack or splinter if they can’t settle back into their original shape. Cupped floors should be addressed immediately to prevent further damage.

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Read More: how to fix cupped wood floors

Common Causes of Wood Floor Cupping

If you want to address the problem, you need to know about the common causes of floor cupping. Moisture is the main cause of floor-cupping. Wood is porous, meaning it absorbs water easily. Solid hardwood and engineered hardwood can both absorb water. However, engineered hardwood has a plywood core that is more resistant than solid hardwood to changing its internal moisture content. Even though engineered hardwood resists moisture and water better, it can still suffer from cupping. Once you know where your water is coming from, you can take steps that will prevent damage to your flooring.

Humidity Levels

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Humidity plays a huge role in the upkeep of your hardwood floors. Wood will match the moisture content in the air to its own moisture. Your wood floors will expand and contract when they are humid. Low humidity can cause your floors’ shrinkage and drying. Your home’s humidity levels will likely fluctuate from season to season, particularly if you live in an area with dry winters and humid summers. Humidity can cause cupping that is less severe than others and may even resolve itself as the seasons change.

Subfloor Moisture

Another common culprit of floor cupping lies beneath the surface of your room. The subfloor can allow moisture to enter wood planks. This is most common in homes that have basements or crawl spaces which are less humid than the rest. Water damage throughout the subfloor—often due to leaky pipes or a similar issue—can also creep into your floorboards from below. Your subfloor is an important component of hardwood flooring. Make sure it’s properly prepared before you start installing. You must clean and dry the subfloor thoroughly before you start laying your first planks.

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Leaks and Spills

Wherever there’s a leak or spill, there’s a chance that water damage will follow. Protecting hardwood flooring from spillages is an important part of hardwood flooring maintenance. It is important to quickly clean up any spillages and ensure that it dries completely. Pay attention to mudrooms and entryways as they might be subject to water damage from people trying to get inside on wet days. Unfortunately, you won’t notice every spill. Particularly dangerous are the areas around sinks and dishwashers. Leaks can also be found below the surface, around pipes, and other parts the plumbing system. If you notice cupping in your floors, but you can’t find the source, you might have more significant water damage in your home. This can cause mold growth and other issues beyond the flooring. You should address this issue as soon as you notice it.

Improper Installation

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Some causes of floor cupping can originate from the original installation. Preparing the subfloor for hardwood floors is essential. You can have moisture-related problems if you put in wood flooring when the subfloor is damp. You You should take the time to ensure that your floorboards have a stable internal moisture level so they can last many years. Air conditioning is one such example. When you install and use air conditioning, the room’s humidity levels will change—and the moisture content of your wood floors will change with it. When the humidity levels are stable, you can lay down the floorboards.

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How To Fix Wood Floor Cupping

If you find cupping in your home, the first thing you should do is locate the source of the problem. The long-term issue will not be addressed if the floor is dried. To To truly repair it, you need to find the source of the damage. Once you’ve addressed that, you can try to get your wood floors back to their original beautiful state. A dehumidifier can be used to restore the room’s humidity level for minor cupping. If you have more serious damage to your floorboards, however, you might consider a professional drying treatment. This will restore them to their original form. Sanding a floor with a cupped surface can lead to more problems when the wood contracts. Remember that cupping happens board-by-board. You may only need to replace one or two boards, even if a large portion of the floor is damaged beyond repair.

Although hardwood flooring can be difficult to maintain, the benefits are worth it. If you’re ready for rich, elegant floors in your home, check out our American black walnut engineered wood flooring or any other fantastic collections today.

Floor Cupping

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