Solid hardwood floors are made of planks of solid wood that are installed on top of a subfloor. Eventually, the floor can become damaged by warping. The warping generally occurs in one of two ways; the planks either cup or bow. Cupping is when the edges of the wood planks bend upwards to form a sort of bowl shape. Bowing is when the middle of the wood plank bends upwards. They are caused by several different factors.
Heat and Moisture Cause Cupping
Generally, heat and moisture will cause your wood planks to cup. Since wood is porous, it absorbs moisture. It can even absorb moisture from the air. Heat also drives moisture into the wood more efficiently; therefore, very humid environments are most prone to create cupping. Furthermore, the wider and longer a plank is, the more likely it is to cup. That’s because the wider planks have less rigidity.
Therefore, experts will often recommend that you not install wide solid hardwood in your basement or other very humid areas.
Excessive Moisture Causes Cupping
Your floors can cup if you are not careful when you wash them. Many people choose to mop their floors. That’s a perfectly fine choice, but you need to be careful. The water used when mopping can warp the wood if you don’t dry it up. The best options are to wring out the m op so that it’s only damp when you mop. Then, make sure that you dry the floor after you are done mopping.
You can dry the floor in a few ways. You can mop it again with a dry mop if the area is pretty small. You can also use towels to dry up the floor. Alternately, you can open the windows and turn on fans to help dry the floor. If you have standing fans, you can aim them at the floor to speed up the drying process.
Sanding Can Cause Bowing
One of the best ways to address cupping that has already occurred is by sanding the wood flat again. However, you need to make sure that the floor and the subfloor are both completely dry before you do that. Otherwise, the floor might dry and then bow.
You should consult a professional if you notice bowing or cupping. Dealing with it can be very complex and time-consuming. A professional will be able to address the cupping, replace planks that can’t be repaired, and advise you on preventing it in the future.
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