How To Fix Warping Hardwood Floors & Causes Of Warping

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This is the most complete guide on getting rid of warping hardwood floors quickly and easily.

Who doesn’t like their house to be aesthetically pleasing? Along with the curb appeal, it is also essential to take care of the indoor. People now take indoor designing and decoration very seriously, and that’s why the interior design business is flourishing day by day.

Hardwood flooring is one popular choice for people who like to go with a traditional look. Various types of hardwood flooring, though, make it look fine with the contemporary theme as well.

Hardwood flooring, despite being expensive, is durable and excellent in appeal. However, maintenance is required to elongate its durability and attraction.

Sometimes, people face weird problems with hardwood flooring, and warping, buckling, or cupping are the worst ones. This not only affects the look of the floor but also makes it dysfunctional for a particular area.

To address this problem, people often call for professionals, which is a wise decision, but with the proper guidance and instruction, it can be performed by you as well.


In this detailed guide, we have come up with a detailed description of the steps that you need to follow to get rid of warping hardwood floors. Take a look at this detailed guide and enrich your knowledge of fixing the warping problem from the floor.


If your engineered or solid wood floor planks are warped, know the term “warping,” which is used to describe this distortion. This form of damage may also be referred to as “buckling,” and there are additional labels for specific distortions, such as cupping and crowning.

It’s called cupping when the borders of a board are elevated over the center of the plank. As a result, a crowning floorboard is one where the center of the floorboard rises above the edges.

Both of these are visually unappealing, but they can typically be fixed without having to replace the flooring. If you catch the warping early enough, you may be able to salvage some of the damage.

But if the warping is severe, you’ll need the help of a hardwood flooring expert.


Wash-boarding, another term for cupping, is a less severe type of floor deterioration. A normal hardwood floorboard can be imagined. Cupping occurs when the plank’s edges curl inward and the middle sinks.

When there is more moisture beneath the wood pieces than at the top, this happens. There are a number of factors that could lead to your floor cuppings, such as the dry air in the area or trapped moisture under the plank.

Although a cupped floor is unsightly, it can nearly always be reversed. Humidity levels in the space can often be restored so that moisture levels can be balanced appropriately.

How To Understand Floor Buckling

Many people fail to notice the problem initially, and when they finally do, the problem has turned worse. To keep you ahead of the situation, we have listed some signs that may help you understand the very problem with your hardwood floor.

  • Hardwood board separations or cracks.
  • It is called “cupping” when the edges of hardwood boards bend upwards.
  • The term “crowning” refers to the raised center of a hardwood board caused by moisture deterioration.
  • “Lifting” refers to regions where the boards literally lift up from the subfloor, indicating that the subfloor has deteriorated.

Common Reasons Of Warping Hardwood Floors

If you understand the reasons, know that you have won half of the battle. This will help you to follow the preventive measures later. Moisture in the air or changes in the weather can cause the hardwood to warp or twist out of shape. You might also find this guide helpful in pet urine soaked into hardwood flooring.

To avoid damaging your floors, keep an eye out for these common causes of wood floor buckling.

Consistent Water On The Floorboards: Water is the worst enemy of hardwood flooring. A single spill won’t be enough to cause your hardwood floors to crumble, despite the fact that you should mop up any spills right away. Find the sources of steady wetness, such as drips or leaks instead.

Change In The Amount Of Moisture In The Air (Relative Humidity): Humidity fluctuations might cause your wood floor to warp or crack if you reside in a location that experiences moist summers and freezing and dry winters. One season it grows, and the other, it shrinks. As long as the cupping is consistent throughout your home and the intensity of cupping isn’t extreme, this may be the culprit.

Subfloor Moisture: A wood floor can cup if the crawl space, concrete slab, or basement is too damp. In new construction, this is especially prevalent if the floor has already been placed before any form of heating or cooling system has been installed. If your crawl space or basement has a lot of dampness, this can potentially happen at a later date.

Leaks or spills: Due to leaks, cupping is most likely to occur around sinks, dishwashers, and other water-using appliances. If a minor leak, the cupping may not become noticeable until it has progressed to a more severe state. If a sudden leak or spill isn’t cleaned up promptly and thoroughly, or there is remaining moisture, it might create cupping.

Improper Care/Cleaning: Similarly, if any moisture is left behind after cleaning up significant leaks and spills, cupping might occur. There is also the risk of further damage if adequate cleaning techniques and supplies are not used.

Improper Installation: Because cupping can occur if hardwood floors are laid before the subfloor is properly dried, it is important to ensure that the subfloor and the floorboards are at an equilibrium moisture content (EMC) prior to installation. The humidity and temperature of the air will change as more people and furniture move into the space.

In the long run, you want to make sure that the humidity level between your subfloor and the finished floor is properly maintained. And you’ll need the most precise tools to measure and ensure that the readings are optimal before beginning the installation.

How To Fix Warping Hardwood Floors

You might be able to fix the problem yourself, depending on how terrible the warping is. Minor warping caused by a leaky pipe over a long period of time will require more extensive treatments than minor cupping caused by a single spill.

The first step in repairing a buckling or cupping hardwood floor is to locate the source of the leak. Tired of black water stains on your hardwood floorings? Read this comprehensive guide on it.

Figuring Out The Source Of Water

A warped hardwood floor can’t be repaired or replaced if you don’t address the underlying issue that caused it to warp in the first place. A spilled or extra water from mopping the floor could be the only explanation for the odor.

Gaps around the frame, poor installation, or insufficient insulation can cause damage near a door or window. In the late summer or early fall, this may not be evident to the eye.

Buckling may be coming from somewhere close to a kitchen appliance, a radiator. While a leak in a fridge/freezer, dishwasher, or washing machine may not be as obvious as one at the back, leaks in radiators are more obvious.

In case the damage is severe, you may also want to look for signs of flooding or a leaky pipe in your home’s exterior. A buckling hardwood floor can be the result of any one of these factors.

Get Rid Of Excess Water:

  • Use a disinfectant and a dry towel to clean the infected area.
  • A floor vacuum should be used for complete dry-vacuuming.
  • Use an electric fan and leave your dehumidifier running for around 24 hours to expedite the process.

Smaller warping and the warped floor should be addressed in this way. The intense procedure may be used to correct warping if the wood plank still displays signs of damage or swelling.

Keep Reading: Effective Solution For Sticky Floorings After Mopping

Avoid These For Fixing Cupping Or Buckling Hardwood Floor

Inexperienced people make the error of sanding the floor back to its original level. However, the moisture issue that led to the warping has not been addressed once more.

For example, if you sand down the affected regions after a very rainy summer and the wood warped the other way after the air-dried out, you could end up with crowning.

Don’t assume that your floor is broken. There’s still a chance, after all! Climate control, humidity readings across the house, or looking for leaks or places where moisture could enter the house are all ways to remedy many moisture problems.

These blunders can be avoided by testing for changes in your home’s ambient circumstances over a period of time. Data loggers may determine the change in ambient humidity levels, when it occurred, and how long it has been since the change.

Using this data, you may make an informed decision on the future of your flooring.

Understanding The Level Of Damage

For buckled hardwood floors, it may not require extensive repair. It is possible to repair a buckled hardwood floor by draining the extra moisture, but if the damage is severe, the entire floor will need to be replaced.

The best way out is to do this quick and inexpensive repair if you observe any small buckling or other evidence of water damage.

Repairing Minor Buckling

Using towels, remove any excess water from the affected area, and then use a disinfecting solution suited for hardwood floors to clean the area. This is a crucial step, as dirt and debris can hold on to extra moisture.

After cleaning, make sure to dry and vacuum the area thoroughly. After you’ve toweled the area dry, you can also use an electric fan to speed up the drying process.

For the next 24 hours, keep a dehumidifier running. If the buckling is modest, the boards may be able to restore to their original shape. It is necessary to replace the boards if they still exhibit signs of deterioration and buckling.

Tools Needed For Buckled Hardwood Solutions

  • Chalk or grease pencil
  • Floor scraper
  • Hammer
  • Circular saw
  • Pry bar
  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Towels
  • Electric fan
  • Chisel
  • Flooring adhesive or nails
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Extra Plank: If you have any spare planks, you can use them to make a new floor, or you can buy new ones from a local hardwood or flooring store. Natural wood boards can be stained to match your floor if you can’t find a suitable replacement.
  • A heavyweight object.

Keep Reading: Amazing Ways To Shine Laminated Floorings

Effective Ways On Fixing Warping Hardwood Floors

It’s not as tough as it sounds to repair buckled engineered hardwood floors, but it’s crucial to follow every step and not skip any.

Step 1: The first step is to draw a box with a piece of chalk or a grease pencil around the affected area. Make sure your lines are straight and even by using a ruler.

Step 2: Get the circular saw to the depth of the board you’ve drawn a square on, and then cut along that line. Follow these techniques:

  • To repair the longboard, make two parallel cuts down its length, positioning them about a half-inch from the edges.
  • Make a slanting cut in the center.
  • When replacing a motherboard, do this for each one.

Step 4: Remove the affected board with a pry bar or chisel and hammer. Place the chisel against the boards at a 45-degree angle, and hitting lightly with the hammer is an excellent way to get the job done. Alternatively, you can chisel straight through the cut you created in the center after breaking the cutting kerfs at the ends.

Step 5: Towels should be used to remove any excess water from the area; then, a vacuum cleaner should be used to dry the surface entirely. Turn on an electric fan and leave it there until the area is totally dry, if necessary.

Step 6: Use a floor scraper to get rid of glue residue from your subfloor if your hardwood planks are attached using adhesive. With a forward-downward motion, you may more easily remove the hand-scraped residue with swift and short strokes.

Step 7: Place the board into the open region. After cutting it into the correct proportions, set it in the region and continue trimming until it fits perfectly.

Step 8: Apply glue or adhesive to the board and spread it out evenly. Hammer and nails can also be used to install replacement boards if you need to repair a big area of flooring or if the flooring was put with nails. When working with large areas, you can put nails all over the boards to keep them in place before gluing the final one in place.

Step 9: Place a substantial weight on the new board for at least 45 minutes if you’re using adhesive. This will keep the board level as the glue dries.

Why Shouldn’t You Ignore Fixing It?

Additionally, your hardwood floor may fail, despite the evident warping of the planks. There is a risk that the cupping will develop, resulting in making gaps within the boards.

Lower relative humidity can cause warping, buckling, and cracking of the boards, which can cause them to separate from the flooring. However, wetness remains a significant concern.

Cupping in the flooring may be a sign that the moisture problem has not been fully treated and needs to be addressed again. Persistent cupping should be investigated, especially after catastrophic incidents like floods.

It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to long-term moisture problems.

Prevent Warping Hardwood Floorings

Warping can reduce the life expectancy of hardwood flooring if it is not properly cared for. By following these steps, you can avoid warping in hardwood:

Sealing Gaps In Your Windows & Doors: When your home’s outside is damaged by weather, it can have an impact on your internal environment. Cracks in your home’s openings should be repaired with silicone caulk.

Wiping Up Spills Immediately: Because wood tends to absorb water quickly, it is imperative that you clean up any spills as soon as possible. Hardwood floors can distort and mould if they get too much water on them. You should also be on the lookout for rainwater from outerwear and snowmelt from boots, in addition to liquids.

Checking For Leaks: Cracks that could leak onto your hardwood floors should be looked for the water sources. Always be on the lookout for leaky fixtures, such as those in your bathrooms and kitchen where water can drip or overflow. This household appliance should be repaired as soon as you observe any water pooling nearby.

Regulating The Humidity & Temperature: Your flooring might be damaged by changes in the atmosphere, so do your best to maintain it pleasant. Get a programmable thermostat or a dehumidifier to keep an eye on your room’s temperature. The humidity in the air can be reduced by most air conditioners when they cool down your home in the summer.

Only Using Cleaning Products Approved By The Manufacturer: Even if you can find a variety of hardwood floor cleaners in the market, it’s advisable to speak with your manufacturer and warranty to determine which cleansers to use. Some substances could damage or scrape the finish of your hardwood flooring.

Using Soft Buffing Pads: Rather than using a liquid buffer, use a soft, dry buffing pad to remove scratches. To restore the shine to your floors, follow a circular motion to wipe it.

Regularly Sweeping Your Floors: Maintaining your hardwood floor correctly can prevent it from rising off the subfloor due to the accumulation of dirt and filth underneath and inside the planks. Dust your floorboards once a week to prevent harm from debris.

Applying A Polyurethane Finish: A polyurethane wood finish, despite the fact that it won’t make your hardwood flooring watertight, provides additional protection for the floorboards. Flooring experts can assist you in applying many coats of finish to your floors.

Other Resources You May Like:

Few Words Before Wrapping Up…

This was all about the comprehensive guide that will keep you ahead of warping hardwood floors. If you already are in such a problem, you must follow the removal process so that you can restore the floor like it was before and if you are not there yet, follow the preventive measures so that you don’t have to face it in the future.

We understand that you have invested a good amount of money in purchasing and installing the hardwood floor in your house. To make the investment worth it, you need to be precautious.

By following the elaborated guidelines, you can quickly get rid of the warping hardwood floors, but if you don’t and if you notice the situation getting worse, you should call for professional help.

This is especially applicable for people who live in high-humid areas or have faced a catastrophe like a flood. The damage might be impossible to be repaired by following DIY measures. Professional help would be wise to get. All the best!

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