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My Wooden Floor Has Bowed - Why and How To Prevent

You can be forgiven for thinking that you’ll need to rip it up and start again if your wooden floor has bowed or buckled. While they can be a real nightmare, you’ll be happy to know they can be easily fixed if caught in time. From sub-par installation to poor floor prep, we’ll look at a few reasons why your wooden floor might bow and how you can remedy the situation.

Excessive Moisture

Often the most common reason for a bowed floor is that there is excessive moisture coming from somewhere! Either from an escape of water, such as a flood, burst pipe, very high relative humidity, poor ventilation and inadequate heating  etc...or if the sub-floor hadn't been prepared and allowed to  dry out sufficiently prior to the floors being installed, although this can be prevented by applying a liquid membrane prior to installation.

Poor Installation

We understand that people like work done as cheap as possible, but often it can come back to bite you. By getting some mates to install the flooring or a cheap fitter, they can sometimes to fail to leave an adequate gap for the wood to expand into or cut door frames etc to allow the floors to expand if needed. The old adage "buy cheap, buy twice" and "pay peanuts get monkeys"  is often the case.

Why Is An Expansion Gap Important?

When a wooden floor is interlocked, each plank will expand depending on the humidity of the room, which means that if there were 60 rows of flooring in a room and each row expanded during the course of the day by 0.5mm the entire floor would potentially expand by 30mm depending on the floor type. Obviously you can’t always leave a 30mm gap in your flooring which is why it’s important to think about expansion rates in conjunction with humidity and temperature.

How Do I Fix It?

If you’ve noticed your floor is showing signs of bowing, it’s important to identify where the flooring is butting against the perimeter and why it is happening. Measuring the room’s humidity and buying a dehumidifier if the air is too moist can be an easy and cost-effective short term solution, if the cause is just the time of year.

If there are small bows, a fix can be relatively easy as all you potentially need to do is wet the area and place a heavy object on the bow. If it’s a large one then you will have to rip up the affected board and replace them. If "cupping" has occurred, this can be sanded out, if not too bad, but the flip side of this, is that the floors could "crown" at a later stage, due to the boards being thinner at the edges compared to the middle, which is the lowest part of the bow and in turn doesn't get sanded as much.


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