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14 Important Ways in Which Your Wood Floor is Trying to Tell You Something
Have you ever had the moment with babies when you stand in front of them pulling your hair in exasperation while they are crying and you keep saying again and again "Just tell me what you want"?
You have to read the signs, say the specialists. Same with your wood floors.
It seems they give you plenty of signs to make you aware before starting to ‘cry’ as loud as they can.
In this super easy guide, you can get yourself prepared for the sometimes inevitable problem solving regarding your wooden flooring.
So here is the deal, get ready for battle and impress your close friends with some awesome facts about solid wood floors.
And now, here they are, the obscure signs your floor wants you to understand:
14 tips to identify problems and take care of damaged wood flooring
1. Those ‘huge’ gaps between the floorboards.
Where? They could appear in some old-time houses as a primal type of flooring, often hidden underneath carpets and then forgotten. But when draughts appear chilling you to the bones you always know the culprit.
Why? The reason they appear in the first place is due to the nature of the wood which is to shrink during the winter and expand in the summer.
Some home interior renovators love restoring those hidden ‘jewels’ and they often face the problem of the gap.
How to fix it? The solution is simple as buying a gap-filling mixture, add some hardboard floor sanding dust from the same floor to match the colour and apply carefully.
Be aware. The bad news is, though, if your boards are particularly loose and tend to move, in cases where they don’t have enough support from below, then expect a large chunk of your gap-filling to fall off.
2. Squeaky boards making your days noisy and nights miserable.
Where? The noisy board's situation can appear in the middle of the night while you are safely tucked in bed and then you hear this eerie creaking noise like someone is walking on the floor but you live alone…
Why? Calm down, though, it's just the wood adjusting to the humidity and the temperature.
If your floor 'complains' while you are walking on top of it then we might be talking about loose boards, joists that are too spaced apart so they do not provide enough support to the boards and they have enough space to bounce and of course creak.
How to fix it? Floor repair consists of inserting shims into gaps that can partially help, filling long gaps with construction adhesives along the joists, adding more joists, lubricating the problem areas if you don't have access to the subfloor or changing the flooring if you had enough of it.
Be aware. The bigger the floorboards are the bigger the gaps can be and then proportionally the noise.
3. Spotting another life form forming its colonies in places often overlooked.
Where? Mould, mildew or fungus can be visible in corners, behind furniture or in seemingly random places, including up, under and inside your flooring.
Why? Well, water is the culprit here and the following raised humidity does not help either. Every time where you have a level of constant humidity be assured a new era of the mould spores infestation ensures.
How to fix it? Quick reactions, take measures immediately by swiping the flooring, check if the mould got inside and if confirmed use a solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water and scrub. If the 'disease' has spread deeply you are guaranteed to have a problem in your hands. Wood floor sanding and then refinishing might be necessary or in some cases replacing the contaminated places. This service is not necessarily very expensive as the floor sanding cost per square metre can be very affordable.
Be aware. This type of problem can be extremely persistent and once spotted should be watched over time for some leftover spores.
But bare with me there are more!
4. Is this a Dalmatian disease or in other words why are there so many stains and discolouration?
Where? Dark or light stains mainly around any source of water like sinks, potted plants, home entrances. Discolouration around windows and persistent light sources.
Why? Water leaves this present for you after drying up and you'd be lucky if that is the only one, for reference checkpoint 3. Sun gives a tanto people but where we can shed our old skin and be renewed naturally once the wood has been exposed to too much sun it changes its colour irrevocably thus the wood floor discolouration becomes visible.
How to fix it? Both problems are fixed with quality hardwood sanding and refinishing. Yeah, some money has to be spent.
Be aware. Some wood species darken and some lighten up due to sun exposure. Wood floor staining before finishing somehow limits this effect.
5. Soft, smelly kind of rotting floor which no amount of air freshener can evaporate.
Where? Corners, around bathrooms.
Why? Water has found a permanent residence in your wood flooring because of a broken pipe or some other reason.
How to fix it? Take out the damaged wood as soon as possible and stop the influx of water.
Be aware. if left untouched the rotting process can destabilise the joists and lead to future injury.
Have you heard of these?
6. Floor blocks starting to resemble a bow? What?
Where? Floor cupping can happen near every water source.
Why? It appears when water finds its way under the flooring and the wood being nice and spongy sucks it all.
How to fix it? Gradually dehumidify and warm the room, maybe remove few boards to let them dry and the moisture under to evaporate, if that does not help, remove all flooring and install underlay.
Be aware. Concrete floors have a high level of humidity which is why a barrier in the form of waterproof underlay should be installed between the floor and the wood.
7. Does the floor resemble a small mountain?
Bad news for you, the floor is crowning. That means your solution about the spilt water on the entrance which was to ‘leave it dry on its own as it’s warm anyway’ did not work as well as expected.
Where? In an area with high humidity, near water sources.
Why? Water coming from the top gets sucked from the boards and they expand in the middle. It is called buckling in cases when due to severe water damage several boards might lift and twist.
How to fix it? Removing the water or humidity source, leaving the boards to dry on their own but that has to happen gradually, sanding them and leaving them to dry, completely changing the damaged area, sand and refinish.
Be aware. Once you have resolved to change the floorboards you'd then have to sand the whole area, not just the new boards and then refinish it. This is done to avoid colour mismatching as your new flooring can't be able to be an exact match to the old one so the repair will be visible.
And can you believe there are even more?
8. Is this floor from the same wood?
Or in the other words why is the colour different, why are there so many knots and those visible defects what are they doing there?
Why? It's caused by the flooring grade or in other words the flooring price. It’s an easy price-oriented system where fewer imperfections cost more money.
Grades are called rustic, natural and prime and the cost rises with the grades.
How to fix it? Once you install your wood floor and finish it, it could be quite challenging to change the offending wood pieces and then you risk your floor looking uneven and with different colouring.
Be aware. Fitting new pieces can happen only during the first stages of the laying of the floor.
9. Can a lacquered floor have dandruff or am I not seeing right?
Where? Around doors, heavy furniture or frequently used pathways.
Why? Amazingly some floors shed, only once though and only if done incorrectly. If the stain or the coats of finish haven’t been left to dry enough time. Additionally, hard rubbing or cleaning liquids incompatibility can be the reason for some bubbles or blisters to appear and to start peeling.
How to fix it? Buffing it as a DIY if the damage looks superficial, or employing a professional sanding service if it's worse. Also, some consideration when buying cleaning products is much advised.
Be aware. Hiring a professional is a sure way to guarantee yourself a good ending and even if they have messed up as this might be covered in the terms and conditions of the contractor and you could be liable for a free redone.
10. Wave in action? You are dealing with an uneven floor.
Where? A wave typically runs through the length of the whole room and can happen everywhere.
Why? It’s your subfloor's blame or the joists which support the structure of the floor due to various reasons they have become warped or loose.
How to fix it? The joists have to be changed or repaired before any flooring levelling.
Be aware. You might have a very costly repair coming as new joists and/or new flooring can raise the cost of this fix.
11. Can't forget to mention the pet stains.
Where? Dark stains at random unspecific places.
Why? Pets tend to sometimes 'go' on the spot they are standing at this exact moment. Could be accidental or it could be on purpose in the cases where pets feel neglected and start to misbehave.
How to fix it? Deep cleaning but might remove the colour of the lacquer but if you want a completely happy ending the tip is to resolve to a low-cost sanding service and refinishing.
Be aware. Some damage might be so deep and extensive that you might have to change the stained boards.
12. Can't seem to be able to do the sliding on the floor routine, why?
It's because the floor is too rough, isn't it?
Why? It can happen due to moisture causing the surface grain to rise and is particularly true for oiled floors. Other reasons can be insufficient sanding service meaning the sanding machine was using only a low grade abrasive and the sanders did not perform an additional buffing or the newly lacquered flooring was contaminated with small particles during the drying uptime.
How to fix it? You could lightly sand or screen and re-coat the desired finish.
Be aware. Your pets might not appreciate the additional smoothness as they can lose grip on the floor while walking.
But look at this one! Familiar, isn't it?
13. Walking with high heels on the wood floor - Well, hello floor dents!
Why? Some types of wood are soft and a well-placed high heel can put quite a lot of pressure on a single spot thus causing it to dip.
How to fix it? Once the dent has appeared your option in fixing it would be to sand the area and re-apply finish.
Be aware. The same problem may appear if you drop heavy objects or your chairs have pointy legs.
And at last...
14. Do you like seeing creepy crowing creatures scurrying on your floor at all times of the day?
Yeah, we hate looking at them, too. Even on photos.
Where? Pests in wood flooring can be several types: termites, powderpost beetles, dry-rot fungi, carpenter ants and carpenter bees and you can find them in corners, hidden places, small holes.
Why? Because they like snacking on wood and your floor becomes pretty much their home.
How to fix it? Call specialists, as where there is one there are many!
Be aware. A bug infestation can damage the floor foundation pretty severely if left uncheck and not only it's if going to be costly to repair but it might endanger your life.
Some additional information:
Signs of termites can be visible holes or sagging floors, also wood might sound hollow when tapped. Some shed wings, faecal pellets that resemble sawdust can also raise your awareness towards a pest problem.
Signs of powderpost beetles are circular emergence holes, this pest starts its life as larvae that bore into the wood through surface cracks. As beetles can develop for years while eating and before exiting you can imagine the amount of damage that can be accumulated in the form of pathways. If you happen to find those emergency holes in your home check to see if there is a presence of a fine powdery boring dust around it. Sometimes the holes are old and you can confirm that if you see an undamaged floor finish on top of them or they might be old of their shape is elongated instead of circular.