Filling up a warped spot in subfloor

Q: I have older 2″ wide flooring on 1 x 6 sub flooring running diagonally on joists on a 2nd story. In one area, where a HVAC duct runs between joists, the sub floor has warped and dried out leaving a void in between the two. You can feel a soft spot when walking over it.

Continue reading Filling up a warped spot in subfloor

Gap of a few inches along wall

Q: We purchased a house that had small areas of incomplete wood flooring in three rooms. There are 3 or 4 rows in each room where the flooring is 2-4 inches short of the wall. Can this be repaired or do new boards need to be put in? And if so, would the color be noticeably off?

The National Wood Flooring Association considers gaps as wide as a dime to be normal

Q: We’re buying a gut-reno’d home in Boston. We did a walkthrough to talk about some changes yesterday and found that the heater is malfunctioning. In the finished attic, the temp was 100+ degrees, and on the second floor, it was 90 degrees. It has been at this level for ~3 days. There are a few spots where shrinkage has happened (along with some separation of the moulding in some spots). Continue reading The National Wood Flooring Association considers gaps as wide as a dime to be normal

Packing significant gaps between pine planks with rope

Q: I have 36 year old wide pine planks in my log home, 3 bedrooms worth. Many of the gaps have widened significantly (up to 3/8″). I picked out 35 years of gunk, grime, even money, and now have significant gaps that collect everything including making a highway system for the bugs. Continue reading Packing significant gaps between pine planks with rope

Should gaps between floor boards be topped with poly?

Q: I had my oak floors refinished and requested Glitza, which was used. But between some floor boards where there are gaps the poly didn’t cover fully, so gaps are visible. Should I ask my flooring guy to come back? Continue reading Should gaps between floor boards be topped with poly?

Repairing an 8ft long gap 1/8th in wide

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: I have a red oak HW floor that was installed in a new house the late summer of 2002. No gaps have developed anywhere in the entire house, save an 8ft run between two planks in the kitchen. The gap is 1/8th of an inch. Continue reading Repairing an 8ft long gap 1/8th in wide

Is 1/16″ a large gap?

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: My only question for you now, is do you think that 1/16″ is a large gap?

A: I wouldn’t consider 1/16″ gap to be large, especially when viewed from the moon. But I don’t think I would want to have one any larger than that between any given boards in my floor. Continue reading Is 1/16″ a large gap?

Cracks in floorboards and between the bevel

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: I recently installed maple strip flooring (2 1/4 inch wide) and I am noticing that many of the boards seem to be developing cracks through the boards which are rough to the touch. The boards were placed in the room two weeks prior to installation. Any idea what’s happening?

A: Maple and many other harder kinds of wood are more touchy when it comes to humidity/moisture imbalance. Tiny cracks may be considered normal, and none would be perfect. You left your floor to acclimate plenty of time in the house before installing it.

However, during the storage time, were there any wet trades happening in the home which would increase humidity? It seems obvious that the floor is now drier than when first installed, and hence, has shrunk a bit.

If your furnace is now running, perhaps the addition of a humidifier would help.

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Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors:  The cracks between the bevels reveal the subfloor, and I can fit a nickel into the cracks in some areas, and roll the nickel on the subfloor. Other areas are only dime-size cracks, etc. There is one stretch of crack that appears across one entire line of the house, perhaps above one of the main supports of the home. I can put a quarter and penny side by side and roll them. As for the bevel, it is the very large intentional bevel that is there for looks. I just love it except that now the bevel serves as a funnel of sorts for dirt to go down to the subfloor. Obviously, this is especially a problem in the kitchen where lots of food dirt goes, and in the bathrooms where my four little boys tend to miss.

As for the cause, it appears that things were done as carefully as you could ask for. The home took 10 months to build so concrete work, etc, was long done, and the floor wood was on site (in the garage) for around 3 weeks before installation. The air conditioning was not running yet (and I don’t really recall the weather at the time). The floor install took place in mid to late August. Then they were sanded, stained, and finished on site approx two weeks later. And yes, the Glitza was awful. (Does it continue to emit lots of the toxins all the time or mostly during the application and when it is “stirred up” as in sanding? Would you recommend refinishing with another safer product and is it possible over top of the Glitza? We wanted a durable surface, but I certainly don’t want to put their health in danger.)

Lastly, our contractor was out yesterday to look at things and turned up the moisture on the main level furnace. Apparently the humidity control (which for some reason is on the furnace and not on the thermostat for that particular furnace, but IS on the thermostat for the 2nd level/lower level furnace) was on all the way but that happens to be a “test” mode which doesn’t deliver much moisture, so he turned the dial down a bit to the highest moisture level and we’ll see what happens. How long would it take for the wood to respond to the increased moisture, and is it reasonable to expect the cracks to close completely? I’m concerned that there is no “seal” there any longer and things can still seep to the subfloor and cause odors/problems over time.

One final question, what is the recommended thing to fill these cracks? Wood putty, etc.? And does the entire floor have to be refinished to properly get us back to where we should be? Our builder is a high-end and experienced (and very honest) guy, but hasn’t run across this before and was going to talk again with the floor refinishers about options. Honestly, you have helped us and our builder very much!

A: I am happy for you that you have an honest builder. I do know that every once in a while, a worker can do everything the right way, and something still goes wrong. You are asking some really hard questions, I must say. For example, I have not worked with Glitza in years. It is an extremely durable finish, but really nasty to work with. Does it emit vapors when it is cured and dry? I am not a chemist and have no idea. This question falls into the same category as some bamboo flooring that uses a urea femeldahyde adhesive.

They don’t all use such an adhesive. One company in Toronto markets bamboo floors that use this adhesive. From what I have learned so far, it seems it does emit such vapors, but according to the government of Canada is within acceptable limits. I don’t know what that means, and I don’t know if I can trust it. Glitza also contains urea formaldehyde.

On coating over top of it with another product, I would suggest you contact the manufacturer. You may also try a test patch in a corner. Abrading the surface coat is always a must to ensure adhesion. So, buff a small spot and apply a finish of choice. Give it a day or 2 and see if it is going to peel off, or if you have achieved a bond.

Dura Seal (Min Wax Corp.) sells wood putty in jars which are color matched. This may be your answer to the few spots that have large gaps. I doubt the gaps larger than a dime will close over. Give it a month and see.

The one thing I am sure about is that such shrinkage is due to moisture instability in the wood planks. Whether that resulted at the factory, warehouse or job site, I don’t know. It has been a long winter this year. The furnace has been blowing in my house since November when we first got snow, that has remained until now. Last year, I installed a birch floor in my kitchen. I have a few gaps appearing, but nothing like what you describe. I have no humidifier attached to my furnace. I also have noticed a few small gaps in my existing oak strip floors that have been down 70 years. If such gaps were not there on installation but developed later, it is always environmental.

I don’t know that I have helped much in this. I would suggest that you give the floors a month to adapt to suggested environmental recommendations (45 % relative humidity). After that, you can use a floor putty such as I suggested or have the floors refinished.

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Boards that are cracking

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: I have boards that are cracking and I was told it was the humidity. I was wondering what is the proper humidity for hardwood floors.

A: 30-45% Relative humidity in the home is about ideal. Mind you, it is difficult to have it at much over 40% in the winter without having condensed water streaming down your windows or walls.

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Reducing snagging, splinter hazard from cracked planks

Q: I have 2 1/4″ white oak and 3 1/4″ wide clear maple planks that have a handful of splits along the long edges, that form spike-like splinters. These cracks are somewhat clean, but because they form a spike-like point, they are snagging and splinter hazards. Is there some way to ‘micro-glue’ them or at least reduce the snagging/splintering potential? Continue reading Reducing snagging, splinter hazard from cracked planks

Minor chips and splinters on floorboards

Q: I have an engineered hardwood floor and the relative humidity in my house is between 45 to 55%. The hardwood is within 2% of the subfloor moisture content. The installation was done by a reputable professional that I personally know and have seen his work over the past few years. The problem is in about 500 total square feet 30 or so boards have gradually exhibited minor chips and splinters, mainly on the edge, but a few in the center. Other than installation error could this be some type of product defect through milling or green wood not being cured properly? Continue reading Minor chips and splinters on floorboards