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Troubleshooting wood and laminate flooring

When purchasing a beautiful new floor, one of your worst nightmares is to receive the product and find out that it doesn't do what you expected it to do! We hope the information below will help you to determine if the concerns with your floor are normal.

My floor is damaged

Poor handling is more often the case of damage to your flooring. This damage, depending on the severity, in most cases may not delay or affect your installation. The reason for this is that when you install your flooring you have to cut some of the flooring boards to fit into your desired space. The boards that you can choose for these cuts could be the boards with the impact damage on them. Therefore the waste from these cuts can be where the damage is located. To explain better please see image below.

Using damaged boards

When inspecting your floor it may also be important to check whether or not the surface is damaged. If you receive a product with just joint system damage – the good news is your flooring is 100% fine. The joint systems we promote (both laminate and engineered flooring) can work to 100% efficiency with more than 40%/50% of the jointing system missing. Therefore, just clean the joint as best you can and you are fine to install the floor and expect the flooring to remain structurally sound for many years to come.

Whilst we understand that it’s not ideal to ask you to use products that are damaged as we want to provide 100% undamaged products, sometimes it’s unavoidable.

There are very good reasons to consider using these damaged boards as part of the waste factor. The most important being the environmental factor. Wasting timber goes against our environmental policies as we pride ourselves on the supporting well managed forests that do not waste precious materials. Most factories we align ourselves with operate under a 100% recyclable policy.


My wooden floor is scratching, denting or marking

Scratches in any wooden flooring must be accepted and expected. These marks and scratches will build up over time. Prevent unnecessary interaction by clipping pet claws or not allowing them onto the new floor area and removing shoes. Sharp objects like dirt, sand and/or grit can stick to your shoes. This dirt can be collected efficiently at the exterior doors by adding the correct doormats. Putting felt pads on your chair and furniture legs will ensure that when they are moved they don't harm the floor and use rugs in high traffic areas.

High heels or stones in the soles of your shoes, dropping heavy objects, furniture or appliances being dragged floors are also causes of scratches, dents or marks so take care to avoid these situations if possible. For small individual dents where wood fibres are not broken, cover with a dampened cloth and press with an electric iron to draw fibres up. If this doesn’t work the only other option is to sand down you floor and refinish.

Laminate floors have a manmade hardwearing melamine surface with a tough scratch resistant top that will withstand these issues better, but it doesn't hurt to apply some of these points.


My floor is squeaky

Squeaky floors can be caused by several things but are usually related to an uneven subfloor or expansion and contraction of your flooring.

The best way to avoid this is to ensure you follow the instructions fully when installing, paying close attention to the expansion gap around the room. If you're looking for a quick fix, try sprinkling talcum powder around the offending board. The powder will reduce friction between the boards and quieten the squeak.

For a more permanent solution you will need to find the cause of the original problem and address that. This would normally mean uplifting your floor and preparing the subfloor to the correct guidelines or cutting the flooring back if it’s pinched against any fixed points, therefore re-installing the expansion gap.


My floor is lifting

Wood based products naturally expand and contract with moisture and variation in temperature.

Therefore if your flooring is lifting this generally gives an indication that not enough time was given for acclimatisation, or due to improper installation techniques i.e. not fitted with the required expansion gap. Other possibilities may be related to the environment, such as prolonged exposure to water, or a relative humidity (RH) level that is simply too high to allow the floor to function properly.

Fortunately this can usually be fixed by simply allowing more expansion and contraction, or by replacing the affected planks (depending upon the cause of the issue), or by regulating the humidity level.

To avoid this situation, acclimatise the floor to the manufacturers guidelines. Follow installation instructions carefully and leave the adequate expansion gap. Make sure the local living space is suitable for your flooring choice.

Cut the flooring back if it’s pinched against any fixed points, therefore re-installing the expansion gap. Add moisture to the air space during dry periods. A constant Relative Humidity (RH) of 50% is ideal to provide stability in the floor. Install a humidifier to control the RH levels.


My wooden floor doesn't match from one board or box to another

By its very nature, colouring of real wooden flooring is unique, as no two planks are the same and it is therefore impossible to guarantee an absolute colour match - in fact, it is part of the charm and character of having a real wooden floor.

If you want to have less variation with your product, you need to consider purchasing a stained product, which generally makes the product more uniform. Additionally look for prime grade products, which are chosen for exhibiting less of the natural characteristics such as mineral streaking, knots, and colour variation.


My wooden floor has streaks in it

What you’re see within your flooring is described as "Medullary rays". This is a perfectly natural feature of oak flooring and is 100% not considered a fault.

Medullary rays carry fluid from the outer parts to the core of the trunk. In the Oak trunk crosscut they are quite clearly visible as pale stripes reaching to the core of the wood. Medullary ray or sometimes called “mirrors or stripes" are visible in all parts of the trunk which lend oak to be uniquely interesting appearance. In all of our Oak products, the medullary rays are an important part of the wood's natural colour variation and characteristic and their occurrence has not been restricted in any way”

If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to call or email.


My floor has gaps in it

Wood based products naturally expand and contract with moisture and temperature. You will typically find that during the summer or humid months the joints within the floor will be more noticeable and gaps may appear.

There is a possibility that it is installation related, if you notice gaps immediately after installation (1 day or so) this might be an indication that the product has been insufficiently locked together or that not enough time was given for acclimatisation, which is the time required by manufacturers to allow the product to expand or contract to match its installation conditions.

The loss of moisture results in the most common reason for shrinkage of individual pieces. If subjected to extreme moisture, the edges of the wood can crush, and subsequent drying and shrinkage can present larger than normal cracks. Square edge (un-bevelled) floors show cracks more than bevelled edge floors. Most gaps or cracks are seasonal - they show in dry months, or the cold season when heating is required, and close during humid periods. This type of separation and closing is considered normal.

To avoid these issues, acclimatise boards to the manufacturers guidelines. Follow installation instructions carefully. Make sure the local living space is suitable for your flooring choice.

In some cases it might be necessary to uplift and reinstall the floor. Another way to deal with gaps is to add moisture to the air space during dry periods. A constant Relative Humidity (RH) of 50% is ideal to provide stability in the floor. Install a humidifier to control the RH levels.


My flooring is warped or bowed before installation

Bowed flooring is common and therefore a certain amount of bowing is to be expected in any wood flooring board. Engineered and solid wooden flooring products are produced in controlled conditions and when packaged for distribution, contain moisture content of approximately 8% - 12%. Our installation instructions state that the boards must not be unwrapped until they are required.

The reason for this is to allow the moisture content of the boards to adjust to changes in relative humidity as a complete floor. Staggering the joints during installation is necessary to maintain the structural integrity and eliminates any deformities caused by exposure to moisture. This in turn keeps the flooring flat and fully supported.

Bowing to a degree, is not considered a defect in any wood component, and does not indicate a faulty product nor does it affect the ‘quality’ of the finished floor.


My wooden floor is warping after installation

"Cupping and crowning" are common complaints that develop with high humidity or moisture levels commonly described as warping.

Both problems occur across the width of the flooring material.

Cupping is when the edges of a board are high and its centre is lower. It only occurs after water or moisture is absorbed into the wood from beneath, normally from the sub floor conditions. Cupping is caused by a moisture imbalance through the thickness of the wood. The wood is wetter on the bottom of the board than on the top.

Taking moisture meter readings can prove the moisture imbalance.

The first step in repairing a cupped floor is to identify and eliminate the moisture source. Once the source of the moisture is controlled, cupping can usually be cured. The floor may improve on its own as it dries out over time. Alternatively you can try and accelerate the drying process by using dehumidifiers. Once the moisture content has stabilized, the floor can be reassessed.

Crowning is the opposite of cupping: The centre of a board is higher than the edges.

Moisture imbalance is again the cause of the crowning however, the excessive moisture is introduced on the top of the floor and not from beneath, perhaps from water used in maintenance. The end result and problem solving is the same as cupping. The determination of moisture content is an essential part of the flooring installation process.

Flooring installers must know the dryness of the concrete slab and should not accept the sub floor is ready for installation based on just the age of the slab. Moisture readings are essential before installation takes place.

It is equally important to check percentage of relative air humidity, and acclimatising the material before installation.