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Hey stackexchange community,

Not necessarily a DIY question- but thought I’d ask just in case, since we’re a little desperate. We have a fairly dramatic case of hardwood floor wood warping currently happening in our home. The hardwood floor was installed around 5 months ago onto all rooms of the ground level in our home; for an initial period of approximately one month, the floor was fine, and remained level throughout. Since then, the warping has progressively been lifting the floor higher and higher in the centre of the rooms that the boards are installed in, running parallel to the board direction. We want to put a stop to it as soon as possible, but aren't really sure how to proceed, so any advice folks here have is greatly appreciated.

As to the 'why' - we've recently uncovered a damp issue in the corner of one of the rooms that the boards start at. We didn't think this damp was particularly bad...though the warping has spread clear out of the room with this damp and deep into the main living room, which we believe to be dry underneath. We're not sure on whether this damp is causing this warping, or whether there is something wrong with the installation itself. Underneath the oak hardwood floor is a wood underlay (https://www.diy.com/departments/volden-5mm-wood-fibre-laminate-wood-underlay-panels-6-99m-/5063022038852_BQ.prd), timber boards, and then concrete.

We really liked the floor when it was level. Is there anything we can do to save it?

(P.S. we're handling the damp issue asap, separately)

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  • Has the bulge ever retreated? Or is it steadily growing?
    – popham
    Oct 8, 2023 at 0:45
  • Steadily growing in length - the bulge itself isn't increasing in height anymore Oct 8, 2023 at 2:57
  • My intuition says the install was fine (it survived for a month), but that the moisture is more prevalent than you think. Maybe this is an insurance claim related to the leak? Oct 8, 2023 at 13:12

1 Answer 1

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This isn't really warping.

This appears to be an installation problem, specifically not providing enough space for expansion at the edges of the room. Wood floors shrink and swell as a matter of course. With inadequate expansion space, they hit the walls and start humping up, having run out of room to go sideways.

However, excessive moisture might well transform an adequate gap to being inadequate for excessive moisture. If you're in the Northern hemisphere, headed into winter, heating season should sort it out for a few months if you stop the water issue. If you're in the Southern hemisphere, you'll need a big dehumidifier, or several, or to close the house up and run AC to pull moisture out as you head into summer.

Cutting some off the boards at the edge of the room (generally undeneath a trim board to hide the gap) will give the floor some room to expand.

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  • Thanks Ecnerwal! We did think something was up with the installation; I'm not a tradesman, but (post-installation, sadly) I realised that they were meant to acclimatise the boards for 48 hours, which they didn't do What makes you think this is an installation issue? Oct 8, 2023 at 2:58
  • Because a competent installation leaves an adequate expansion gap at the sides of the room, precisely so this does not happen. This happens because the flooring has expanded to the point where it's bound between the walls, so the only way it can go as it swells more is up.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 8, 2023 at 11:39
  • But aren't the boards nailed down?
    – Huesmann
    Oct 8, 2023 at 13:33
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    They might, or might not be if "floating." If there isn't enough space, it doesn't matter, they will pull the nails (out or through.) If there is enough space, the gaps between the boards just get larger and smaller (which is why hardwood floors usually use narrow boards - lots of little gaps are much less noticable in dry season than a few big ones)
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 8, 2023 at 13:56

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