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How to avoid the five common problems with hardwood flooring

There is no doubt that hardwood flooring is the best choice that you can make from your home. Not only is it natural, warm and attractive, but it is also extremely durable, and because wood comes in so many colours and has lots of different grain styles, it is always possible to find a hardwood flooring solution to match your tastes and compliment your current d├ęcor.

However, the very characteristics that draw so many homeowners to wood, such as its naturalness, can also cause some issues with this type of flooring, if homeowners do not know how to correctly install and care for their hardwood flooring in Liverpool.

The issue with moisture

As you will probably know, wood is a hygroscopic material, which means that it will absorb moisture from the environment with ease. Wood is formed by a collection of cells that are similar to very thin pipes. As a matter of course, a tiny amount of moisture is naturally retained in the cell wall, and the hollow bit of the pipe-like cells has the space to hold on to and let go of moisture. When the tree is in a state of growth, the inside of the cell draws vital nutrients and water up from the roots of the tree to its other parts, performing a vital function.

When a tree is cut down, it is dried in a kiln, which serves to get rid of most of the mobile moisture content of the wood before it is made into things like hardwood flooring or furniture. However, the cells within the wood retain the same structure they had when they were a living, breathing tree, which means that they are still able to absorb and retain moisture.

Unfortunately, if moisture is retained by wood, then it will either expand or contract depending on the environment and the way in which the wood interacts it, and this can cause major changes to the wood.

Moisture related problems

Below, you will find five of the most common problems that can occur when one has hardwood flooring, and how they can best be avoided, so that you will be able to enjoy the beauty and durability of hardwood flooring for many years to come:

Cupping

Cupping is a problem that comes about when a moisture imbalance is present, due to the thickness of a wooden floor. Cupping is present when the edges of a wooden floor curve up and are at a higher position that the centre of the floor.

The main causes of cupping, include underground water sources, and leaks, or changes to the humidity levels in the room where the floor is located, which when it is absorbed by the flooring, causes it to push the boards upwards.

Crowning

Another problem that will need to be avoided when installing hardwood flooring is that of crowning. This is again caused by a moisture imbalance, but unlike cupping, the centre of flooring that is suffering from crowning is higher than the edges of the floor.

This particular issue can be caused by there being too much moisture on top of the floor, but it can also occur if a floor that was cupped was sanded and treated before it had reached the correct moisture balance. This is why it is so important that floors are allowed to settle and acclimatize before they are finished.

Abnormal Gaps

Sometimes, if the ambient relative humidity of a room changes suddenly, gaps in the floor can appear. This usual happens in hotter months and is a bigger problem if the moisture content of the flooring was greater than the ambient conditions when it was installed.

Other things that can cause odd gaps to form include hot areas caused by air conditioning, heating ducts etc., which cause moisture to vary in different spots.

Buckling

Buckling is one of the most serious things that can happen to poorly cared for hardwood flooring. It is basically a more extreme version of crowning, whereby very extreme changes in moisture curve hardwood flooring so much that it ceases to remain in contact with the subfloor. This most commonly happened when flooding has occurred over a long period, and in most cases, floors affected by buckling will need to be replaced and reinstalled.

Squeaking

Continuous and ongoing moisture changes can cause the nails in hardwood flooring to pop, and can also cause the adhesive used in the installation to break down. Both of these things can result in squeaks and groans that can be very annoying, especially in high traffic rooms.

Avoiding the problems

Luckily, all of these problems can be easily avoided if you take the time to prepare. The most important thing that you can do is measure the moisture content of both the subfloor and your hardwood flooring as thoroughly as possible before and during installation.

Using a wood moisture meter is the simplest way to get an accurate picture of the moisture content of wood flooring during any part of the process. It is also good for checking the moisture content once the installation is complete, so that proper maintenance routines can be employed.

Using a wood moisture meter will enable you to understand the relationship between wood and moisture content, so that you can accurately define when the floor has reached perfect equilibrium with the surrounding area, so that it can be installed at the optimum time.

Hire a professional

Of course, taking wood moisture into account is not easy, as there is lots that can go wrong. You can completely skip this step and avoid having any major issues with your hardwood flooring in Liverpool by simply hiring a professional flooring installation company, which is experienced and knows exactly what it takes to ensure that moisture does not ruin a perfectly good hardwood floor.

A benefit of hiring a professional is that you do not have to do any of the hard work yourself, and can simply sit back and enjoy the process of getting a beautiful new floor.

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