How to Keep Wood Floors from Buckling and Cupping

We recently had new siding put on our house, and now the wood flooring is starting to buckle. What could be the problem? – Lynn

Hi Lynn,

Usually problems with buckling or cupping in a wood floor are caused by excessive humidity inside or under your house. It’s possible that a nonpermeable housewrap was used behind your new siding, which is increasing the humidity level in your home; or that the siding covered up existing foundation vents under your home.

In either case, you should monitor the humidity level inside and under your home using a humidity gauge (hygrometer) to make sure both areas are under 60% relative humidity.

Solid wood flooring moves constantly as the humidity level changes – expanding when the humidity is high and contracting when the humidity is low. This problem is particularly pronounced during a hot, humid summer or cold, dry winter.

Reasons Wood Flooring Buckles or Cups

  • If the humidity level inside or under the house is much higher than the wood flooring was acclimatized to when it was installed, it can cause the boards to expand and buckle.
  • If the humidity level inside or under the house is much lower than the wood flooring was acclimatized to when it was installed, the flooring may shrink and leave gaps between the boards.
  • If the humidity level is much higher or lower inside your house compared to under it, it can lead to the boards cupping.

If the flooring cups down (the center of the width of each floor board on top is higher than the edges), the humidity inside your house is substantially higher than the humidity in the crawlspace or basement under it.

If the flooring cups up (in a “U” shape on top), the humidity in the crawlspace or basement is much higher than that inside your house.

How to Reduce Humidity Inside a House

  • Run a properly sized air conditioner during hot, humid weather.
  • Use bathroom vent fans (vented to the outside) during and for 10-15 minutes after showering or bathing.
  • Run a kitchen stove vent fan (vented to the outside) when cooking.
  • Make sure the clothes dryer vent is unobstructed and vents outside your house.
  • Consider installing a dehumidifier if the above suggestions are not enough to lower the humidity level under 60%.

How to Reduce Humidity Under a House

  • Make sure there isn’t any standing water in the crawlspace or basement under your house caused by plumbing leaks or drainage problems.
  • Be sure the ground slopes away from your house, and rainwater is diverted away from the foundation.
  • Seal the walls and floor of your basement with a waterproof sealer, or cover the ground in the crawlspace with thick (6-mil or more) plastic sheeting.
  • Make sure there is adequate ventilation in the crawlspace under your house (1 square-foot of vent space per 150 square feet of crawlspace).
  • If problems with high humidity in the crawlspace or basement under your house persist, consider closing up all vents and installing a dehumidifier under the house or conditioning the space under the house.

Good luck with your project,

Danny

Further Information





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14 Comments on “How to Keep Wood Floors from Buckling and Cupping”

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  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    November 7th, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Hi, Hobart,
    First, thank you for your military service and for sharing your story with us.
    We’re sorry to hear about this situation, and how devastated it makes you and your wife feel.
    This is a unique situation that requires careful consideration to properly answer. We recommend submitting questions involving such matters to the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show.
    Please use this form to contact Danny Lipford, America’s Home Expert, directly: https://www.todayshomeowner.com/radio/ask-questions/ (You can just copy and paste what you have included here; no need to type it all out again.)
    We’re sure Danny can offer individual advice for this matter.
    Take care.



  • Hobart Williams Says:
    November 7th, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Hi , We have a Problem that at least 6 people cannot Solve ! Our home is 64 years old , concrete block , off Grade. I am a Disabled Senior Veteran & was Just able to purchase ( what I thougt ) was our Dream Home ! We are raising our 8 year old Grandchild, our Son is a Single Dad & bought for her to inherit ! Every Summer when we use the AC the wood floor humps up to the point , it is a Trip hazard ! It’s in front of the AC closet ( was ) . We hired 2 different HVAC companies the First One was “ supposed “ Replace the duct work in The attic. It’s Not really an attic , the ceilings were lowered in the hall to be able to run duct work , it’s Almost. flat roof, very little sloped pitch . It didn’t Work …. the second company came in to replace Ductwork…. went from 6 inch to 8 inch & Better insulated . It’s Still happening ! Crawl space is DRY . The City Inspector told us to tear out the insulation under the house…. he did that to his house … with or without insulation , Same Problem? Since the Duct Work was replaced with 8 inch , the problem became a little worse ?? We hired a Company called Buiding Science to do load calls etc…. it was their opinion to add 8 inch duct , didn’t Work ?? We have Spent every dime & had several opinions… NO ONE can Give us an ANSWER ? We are going to have give our home up to Foreclosure if we cant Figure it out ! I have had 3 Heart Surgeries, 2 Brain Surgeries in the past 6 months. I have a Brain Aneurysm, I had One knee replaced & can’t get my other knee replaced till my Heart Heals ( 1 year ) the floor is a trip Hazard & I can’t afford to Trip ! My wife is also Disabled ! We are Devastated, this was Supposed to be our Last home & our Grandchild’s Forever Home …. can you Help ? We could possibly get you Media Coversge ? We are Heartbroken. Thank You , Hobart L. Williams



  • Vito Says:
    January 5th, 2018 at 12:43 am

    We have floating wood floor over concrete install about 7 years ago and we getting some bouncing spots never washed with water. Can this be repaired. Need your help.



  • David Berry Says:
    December 5th, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    We have severe cupping and we are on a co ncrete slab. The moisture of the concrete is around 7.1. The lumber people are balking at replacing floor. Help.



  • Danny Vicknair Says:
    September 5th, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Can keeping the temperature-in the moist Louisiana summer with 95deg, 99% humidity- in your house we so cold (67deg) that the outside of the doors sweat outside, double insulated windows sweat outside, and could it make the un-insulated 70 years old wood floors sweat so bad some boards cup or warp and discolor? It only happens in the summer. 3 summers in a row since we’re in and Zero winters.
    I’m guessing raise the thermostat to human levels–impossible –or insulate the floors very good.
    What do y’all think?!?
    Thanks.
    Danny.



  • Hap Partridge Says:
    August 24th, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Danny, as you know I am an insulation contractor (& trained as a HERS Energy Rater), in your hometown of Mobile, Al one of the wettest humid cities in the country! We consult on many houses that have moisture problems that result in buckled floors!

    I would add 2 quick points in this climate to your guidelines –
    1. People may do a great job of upgrading their energy efficiency, then many can & do keep their home COLDER. The COLDER the temperature difference from the interior to the exterior -moisture drive becomes exponentially stronger from outside to the interior!
    2. Fiberglass batts used as insulation on a floor over a vented crawlspace traps moisture that is drawn in by this temperature difference!

    Love your show! My mother tells me Danny’s on.

    M



  • J. Freeman Says:
    August 6th, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Our house is 31 years old and was built with oak cross-cut hardwood floors in our living room and dining room. Four years ago, we removed the carpeting in our family room and had it replaced with oak cross-cut hardwood flooring. We recently had a complete kitchen remodel and installed oak cross-cut hardwood floors. where we previously had a tile floor. Our hardwood floor in the kitchen has recently cupped. Why would it cup when all of our other hardwood flooring is fine and we had never had a problem with it?



  • Marua Says:
    August 14th, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I am looking for options & estimates to address the cold floor caused by a crawl space.



  • T Moriarty Says:
    June 24th, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    In our den and our master bedroom there is one spot in both rooms where the hardwood floor has raised a little bit like a bump. It doesn’t go up and down it is like that all the time, winter or summer. We have always had carpet and maybe we never saw it before now that we don’t have carpet.



  • Genady Prutianov Says:
    September 15th, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    My apartment unit is built on top of concrete slab with garage under. Concrete slab, moister barrier, 2×12 flooring joist, 3/4″ subfloor, underlayment and 3/4″ hardwood floor. The appartment is six years old. All floor is throughout the unit is buckled. We removed 10’x10′ section of the floor. The subfloor under vapor barrier is wet and some areas are rotted. Top os insulation between joists is wet also. Top only. There is no evidence of water coming in from outside, no plumbing leaks. Could moister do the damage that severe? If so, what can be done to prevent that?



  • Grenda Walton Says:
    August 29th, 2015 at 8:04 am

    I have used sticky carpet tape to tape down stairs carpet on my vinyl/wood stairs. Now I want to replace the sticky tape.
    What do I use to remove the old tape without damaging my stairs,
    Thanks.



  • Karla Morehead Says:
    August 11th, 2015 at 8:53 am

    This has happened to a rental unit that I have. Is this covered by homeowners insurance. We have had a lot of rain & very high temperatures.
    Thanks,
    Karla



  • Dan Hayes Says:
    October 11th, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Have new construction house on slab with engineered hard wood clued down. First round of flooring cupped. Floor replaced with same type flooring using special moisture resistant adhesive. Slab passed moisture reading required for gluing flooring. Second floor also failing with cupping over 65% of floor. Now scheduled for third round of flooring. Different type of engineered hard wood, same moisture resistant adhesive. Chance of success? No drainage issues with landscaping or lot. Should floor be floated with click lock flooring?


  • Official Comment:


    Ben Erickson Says:
    March 28th, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Test of comment checkbox


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How to Keep Wood Floors from Buckling and Cupping