Atlanta Hardwood Flooring Issues and Solutions

Welcome back folks to our Foxhound Floors Atlanta blog and today’s article is based on one of the most frequently asked questions that I continually get from potential clients (these are for clients who are contacting us for the first time and have had these flooring issues):

Why are my hardwood floors looking damaged when I had a local Metro Atlanta flooring company install them a short time ago?

This is definitely a common occurrence (sad but true) and the simple reason is that your Atlanta hardwood flooring solution was improperly installed but we have an answer due to our Foxhound Floors Atlanta experiences to include the number of reasons that I will explain in this article and there are quite a few “blunders” so let’s keep rolling towards preventive solutions before you watch your hard earned investment go down the proverbial “drain” although we are very sympathetic to potential clients that are going through this mess as we literally abhor seeing this because the client and their family suffers needlessly not to mention the reputation of the Metro Atlanta flooring industry as a whole as it leaves a negative impression (I’ve literally blushed at some of the language used by these clients who have experienced this nightmare when actually speaking to them in person or over the phone) for the client and we at Foxhound Floors Atlanta are doing our part to change that negative experience one installation at a time so let’s get started.

Let’s start with the first flooring issue known as cupping which is a problem that I see from time to time and this happens when flooring is installed over crawlspaces or a wet basement and the results are quite simply hideous for lack of a better word. In fact what usually leads to this mishap is that the bottom of the board is wetter than the top so it makes the edges “cup” if you will hence the reason it gets its name.

What type of floors are prone to cupping?

Great question all you sharp folks in Metro Atlanta and wide plank floors are more prone to cupping but every now and again, it happens to strip flooring and just in case you are not sure what strip flooring is, just know that it is a type of wood flooring that is milled from lumber and usually from the part of the tree that is less than desirable such as large limbs to include the upper portion of the tree trunk hence the name strip flooring. 

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, I’d like to point out that folks think that by using a vapor retarder also known as a vapor barrier that you can install between the subfloor and the floorboards can actually help prevent cupping but in reality all it does it slow the actual migration of moisture which is not a solution at all and simply not reliable.

What should one use then?

Well, the vapor retarder for strip flooring that we use that has been installed over conventional framed floors is called Aquabar B and what I really appreciate about Aquabar B which is made by a company called Fortifiber (they are not paying me to promote then although I wish they did) and does its job to reduce moisture related problems. Furthermore, you can use it for multiple interior construction applications as well which is very practical. How so? Well since it has such a superior vapor retarder under the wood flooring application, it slows moisture vapor below the flooring system which in turn allows it to acclimate at a gradual pace which is key.

Once this pace is gradually applied, you have reduced the “monster” in the room and that is the moisture migration so in essence, what Aquabar B does really well is to protect against moisture vapor related issues like cupping like we’ve been talking about. On top of that, it acts as a noise reduction application which is a very nice feature as well to include having been in the marketplace as a proven product for over 75 years so you can’t go wrong with Aquabar B.

How about cupping over wide plank flooring?

It is definitely a problem but we use a moisture vapor protection produced by a company called Bostik and this product is quite good and has its place in our toolbox. It is basically a one part, trowel applied, moisture cure urethane membrane designed to be used beneath glue down installations of solid, engineered and bamboo hardwood flooring. It is easy to apply and or trowel and definitely designed to minimize any moisture vapor transmission from the subfloor and creates a noise reduction barrier over the substrate itself.

This actually establishes an anti-fracture membrane than helps to bridge cracks that can occur in the substrate to or after the installation which is pretty nifty. Also, this product can be used in residential housing, light commercial/offices, heavy commercial, offices, hospitals, exterior and wet areas. Wow! As far as substrates are concerned, you can use it for concrete and cement patch underlayment. How about the different flooring types? Well, you can use it for solid hardwood, engineered hardwood, bamboo, cork, parquet, plywood, marble and ceramic tile and last but not least we have stone inlays as well. How about that folks for flooring choices that you can use this product for? Quite practical in its diverse approach for usage if you ask me.

Thus far we’ve addressed cupping as a flooring issue and now I would like to address buckling. So Foxhound Floors what is your definition of buckling? Glad you asked and we define buckling as boards that buckle when they cannot expand. How does this happen? It is due to the fact that when your floorboards have not acclimated correctly or they have been exposed to extreme moisture, they will push together in an aggressive manner and they will lift off the subfloor.

Pretty disconcerting if you ask me because it is extreme behavior based on wood flooring becoming too moist. Once this happens, you will see an expansion of the wood flooring where it literally lifts off the subfloor and actually moves the door frame and pops out the trim from the walls. Imagine seeing something like that happen? It will definitely catch your immediate attention not to mention probably scare the living daylights out of you. 

What are some other factors that lead to wood flooring buckling?

It can also buckle if your basement is damp based on some type natural disaster like a flood or it was installed when the floor was too dry to include using the wrong nail size or the nails were “nailed down” with too much space between them. As you can see, there are many factors that lead to buckling but in the end, it really comes down to moisture related issues that cause buckling to happen to your wood flooring.

What are some solutions to meet buckling head on?

You can always try to refasten some of the buckled floors but if they look beyond repair, I just remove them and replace them with new wood. By the way, once I see wood flooring with buckle issues, I don’t take on the work to repair them until the moistures issues have been resolved and the moisture content for the subfloors and floorboards are judged to be appropriate otherwise I will be on the “financial hook” as I will be deemed responsible and I don’t like that idea at all. 

At this point in time, I have discussed issues and solutions for Atlanta wood flooring and I can see that I will have to continue in the next article with more details on what on all the problems and solutions that I have encountered and applied a solution to.

Once again, thank you for coming to my blog and we look forward to having you return for more invaluable details that may help you in the near future once you decide that you want to install, refinish or repair your wood flooring.



Foxhound Floors Atlanta Team

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