Engineered wood and solid hardwood floors are two gorgeous flooring options that can add a touch of sophistication to any Houston home. On the downside, these floors’ appearance, performance, and durability can be affected by a series of problems. Typically, a floor that feels soft when you step on it is the first sign that indicates there is an issue with it.
Assessing the Root Causes of Wood Floor Problems
When it comes to flooring issues, poor floor installation is rarely the root cause of the problem. Instead, most issues are the result of excess moisture or water accumulating underneath the home and/or soil movement, which may cause your foundation to shift. In order to fully understand how flooring problems occur and prevent them efficiently, let’s take a closer look at their potential underlying causes.
Excess Water Underneath or Around Your Home
Engineered wood and solid hardwood floors are particularly sensitive to moisture. Excess water or moisture collecting under or around your home and then getting absorbed into your floor system could cause your wood planks to swell and eventually twist out of shape, which may lead to peaking, buckling, cupping, and/or sagging in your floor. When any of these conditions occur, your floor may detach from the subfloor in some areas. As a result, your floor may feel softer, bouncier, or unnaturally spongy in those particular spots. If your floor is exposed to moisture or water for a longer period of time, some wood planks may even split, particularly when force dried.
How to fix the problem: While replacing the damaged planks or the entire floor may be a quick and easy fix to the problems mentioned above, the new floor will likely sustain the same type of damage if the root cause is left unaddressed. So, instead of wasting your money on a temporary fix, it would be more cost-effective to have your property inspected and the underlying issues fixed by professionals.
Once the root cause of the problem is taken care of, it’s important to ensure that water runoff is efficiently directed away from your home. This can be done by installing adequate gutters and downspouts and cleaning them on a regular basis, grading the landscape properly around your home to achieve positive drainage, and installing a French drain, if required. As well, if you have an older plumbing system, and the problem was caused by a leaky pipe, you may want to consider repiping your entire home.
All these measures can help you ensure that excess water or moisture will no longer accumulate under your floor. It’s also important to know that if a flooring problem is caused by water pooling around or under your home, it’s just a matter of time before it affects your foundation as well, potentially causing it to move and shift. If that happens, it will inevitably lead to structural damage in the future.
There are 3 major causes of differential settlement: soil movement, poor structural design, and inadequate construction methods. Although there are over 1300 types of soil in Texas, the most common one is clay soil. The problem with this type of soil is that it expands significantly when wet and shrinks just as much when it dries. All this movement may cause your foundation to shift and settle in an uneven fashion, which in turn could affect your wood floor, causing the same aforementioned peaking, buckling, cupping, and/or sagging.
When these issues occur in a newly built home, the problem may arise from inadequate structural design and/or construction methods. If the specifications are incorrect or the builder fails to follow the plans, a series of flooring issues, as well as other problems, may occur throughout the home over time. For example, if the builder doesn’t compact the soil under the foundation properly or installs concrete piers at a greater distance than the one specified on the plans, the slab might not provide adequate support for the floor system and home. Over time, the slab may start to crack under the weight of the floor system and home, eventually causing damage to your beautiful wood floor.
How to fix the problem: In this case, the best course of action is to consult with an experienced contractor specializing in all types of foundation repairs. Once the root cause of the problem is fixed, a professional flooring installer can make all the repairs required in order to bring your floor back to its original condition.
Irrespective of their underlying causes, most flooring problems tend to develop in a relatively short time span. If you’ve just stepped into a room and realized that your wood floor feels softer than before or noticed any other issues, contact Allied Foundation as soon as possible. Because a wood floor that feels soft may indicate a much bigger problem, including severe foundation damage, fixing the problem sooner could save you a lot of money and hassle!