Common Problems with Hardwood Flooring
Refinishing hardwood floors is a relatively inexpensive process that can add appeal and durability. (Photo courtesy of Nick Kotsopoulos)
There are many great reasons to install hardwood flooring: It matches well with almost any décor; it can reduce dust and other allergens; and cleaning is relatively quick and simple.
But even with these benefits, hardwood flooring is not maintenance-free. Installation errors, wood's natural tendency to swell with changes in humidity and long-term wear and tear can all cause unsightly conditions that detract from a hardwood floor's appeal.
If you own a home with hardwood floors, look out for these common problems:
Buckling and crowning
This is caused when the original installer did not provide enough space between the wood planks for expansion with humidity. Eventually, the planks may swell into each other and become raised. These raised areas not only look uneven compared to the rest of the floor, they also attract more wear and tear.
Scratches, dents and dings
These are some of the most common hardwood flooring issues and they generally occur over time as the floor is used and its protective finish wears off. This can be avoided by not wearing shoes in the house and by installing protective pads on furniture legs.
A floor's exposure to UV rays from sunlight can cause noticeable differences in the floor's color over time. Blocking sunlight by lowering the shades or closing shutters can help prevent this fading.
When exposed to or saturated in water, wood can swell and warp. Prevent water from coming in contact with wood floors by using area rugs below sinks and near entry doors, and by placing houseplant pots or containers on top of water-collecting dishes.
If your hardwood floors display any of the above problems, it's likely that only a skilled hardwood flooring contractor can help you resolve the issues. As with any home improvement hiring investment, check Angie's List for reviews on local contractors, call on references, and verify a company's licensing, bonding and insurance.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Sept. 12, 2011.