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Posted: 4/3/2006 11:14:36 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/3/2006 3:06:01 PM EDT by BillofRights]
I have wood floors in several rooms. Oak slats I believe. It seems that every time I look at them, there are more cracks between them, as if they are shinking. The house was built in '99 so it's not too old, or new.

I am in a pretty low humidity area, does anyone think that a humidifier would help?

Is there anything I can be doing to stop this process?
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 11:20:26 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/3/2006 11:22:06 AM EDT by thirsty]
Mopping with Murphy's Oil soap or another wood cleaner/preservative could help, but I think the damage may not be reversible. Maybe a good cleaning and another coat of polyurethane could help.

EDIT: Generally, wood is going to warp and shrink, especially floors. Also take a look at what is being used to clean them now, it could be having an adverse effect.
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 11:22:20 AM EDT
Humidifier will help. Wood floors need to have a fairly constant humidty. Where do you live?
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 11:24:34 AM EDT
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 11:26:26 AM EDT

Originally Posted By firedog51d:
Humidifier will help. Wood floors need to have a fairly constant humidty. Where do you live?



Colorado. I don't know the exact humidity level, will try to find out and report back.
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 11:29:19 AM EDT
+1 on the humidifier... Especially if you have forced air or wood stove heating.

Or you could just replace 'em with Pergo... LOL
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 11:31:14 AM EDT
Colorado is relatively dry. I don't know if the damage is reversable but I'm guessing you need more humidity in your house.
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 11:35:08 AM EDT
A few things may be happening here.

When the wood was installed, they may not have allowed it the full 72 hours sitting inside the home to adjust. What happens is that the wood then soaks up moisture from the underfloor, and it takes a few years but the wood will expand and contract, resulting in splits.

More than likely, however, the house is settling. This is extremely common and will ruin a hardwood floor, especially in the harder woods such as Oak and Cherry.

There is a slight chance that a lack of humidity is to blame, but I seriously doubt it. Hardwoods like Oak are kiln dried to a level that moisture really doesn't play a role.

Also, they might have installed the moisture barrier incorrectly on the sub floor.

Is the floor in question upstairs or downstairs (over a wood substrate or concrete)?

Honestly, there is little you can do. If the cracks are occurring in the middle of the floor, it means that the floor was installed with too little spacing between the running ends and the walls, so it can't expand and is trying to buckle. The only remedy is to remove the boards that border the walls and trim and rip as necessary so you have a 1/8" - 3/16" gap between the walls and the ends and sides of the floor boards.

If they are occurring towards the walls, it is the house settling and nothing you do right now will stop that. This is a common occurrance on second-story floors. On first story floors, where the Oak is installed over concrete, it is usually moisture from the barrier being improperly installed.

I know this isn't much help for you, but there really is not much you can do sans removal of the perimeter boards to trim - or removal of the floor to repair the moisture barrier - or allow the house to finish settling in this phase and then replace the effected boards.
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 11:42:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BillofRights:

Originally Posted By firedog51d:
Humidifier will help. Wood floors need to have a fairly constant humidty. Where do you live?



Colorado. I don't know the exact humidity level, will try to find out and report back.



You should have few humidity problems in Colorado, unless you run your heater a lot. I have friends with hardwood floors here in AZ, and humidity (non-existant here) has never been a factor. And in a house only 7 years old, there is no way I'd account humidity as the culprit.

But then again, I am FAR from any type of expert on the subject. So if the consensus is that humidity WILL cause problems, I'd give merit to the folks here saying so. And, after all, a humidifier can't hurt and is fairly inexspensive.

I wish you luck, bro!
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 11:52:29 AM EDT
richardh gives good advice. The subfloor is a very critical component of wood floor installation as is the spacing between the wood and the walls to allow for expansion. There is a whole different moisture issue that comes from the subfloor that a house humidifier probably would not help with.
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 3:00:16 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/3/2006 3:07:20 PM EDT by BillofRights]
Thanks for all the input guys.

The cracks are more toward the middle then the edges. Not buckling so much as spreading.

The floor is above a wood underlay "Hardi-Wood" OSB. The temperature is about 65-75 degrees, winter. 75-85 deg. Summer

My humidity gauge shows 28%

If it is caused by settling, I guess I can fall back to what I do best. Ignoring it.

The one thing I don't understand is why it took 7 years to begin settling?

Does anybody know what kind of compound I could use to fill the cracks. They range in width from the thickness of a playing card, to the thickness of a CD, and they run the length of the board.

Just to clarify, the cracks are between boards, with a crack in maybe 1 out of 20.
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 3:27:33 PM EDT

Originally Posted By BillofRights:
Thanks for all the input guys.

The cracks are more toward the middle then the edges. Not buckling so much as spreading.

The floor is above a wood underlay "Hardi-Wood" OSB. The temperature is about 65-75 degrees, winter. 75-85 deg. Summer

My humidity gauge shows 28%

If it is caused by settling, I guess I can fall back to what I do best. Ignoring it.

The one thing I don't understand is why it took 7 years to begin settling?

Does anybody know what kind of compound I could use to fill the cracks. They range in width from the thickness of a playing card, to the thickness of a CD, and they run the length of the board.

Thanks.



Typical.

Your sub-floor is not level, and the joists or underlayment have warped - either through settling or through incorrect cuts.

OSB for decking? Not on my jobs! That's your problem right there... Of any type OSB used in decking except for roofing.

More specifically, the OSB has expanded, as all composite woods do. The laminates in the wood expand and contract, which "moves" the base your floor is laid on. In your case, the OSB was butted seam to seam, so it can't move side to side. It can't go down, because the joist is right there, Naturally, it seeks the easiest way, which is up - and pushes against the boards, which cracks them.

7 years for a house to settle is normal for a decent, meduim grade houss.

All in all, you are the victim of what so many people fall prey to: shitty installment. Sorry, bro

Typical housing these days. Fuckers.

Anyway, filling the splits and cracks is not something you want to do now. Wait for summer, because this is the next big temperature change. Do it earlier, and your patches will split, too, and a patched patch will never look right.

To patch the splits, I'd need to see detailed pictures before I can help you. Some need wood patch, others need sawdust, and still more need shims and/or wood splinters.

If you can PM me some pictures, I can probably help you get the spilts and cracks patched, but I can't comment until I see the actual damage.
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 3:34:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By richardh247:

Your sub-floor is not level, and the joists or underlayment have warped - either through settling or through incorrect cuts.

OSB for decking? Not on my jobs! That's your problem right there... Of any type OSB used in decking except for roofing.

More specifically, the OSB has expanded, as all composite woods do. The laminates in the wood expand and contract, which "moves" the base your floor is laid on. In your case, the OSB was butted seam to seam, so it can't move side to side. It can't go down, because the joist is right there, Naturally, it seeks the easiest way, which is up - and pushes against the boards, which cracks them.

7 years for a house to settle is normal for a decent, meduim grade houss.

All in all, you are the victim of what so many people fall prey to: shitty installment. Sorry, bro

Typical housing these days. Fuckers.

Anyway, filling the splits and cracks is not something you want to do now. Wait for summer, because this is the next big temperature change. Do it earlier, and your patches will split, too, and a patched patch will never look right.

To patch the splits, I'd need to see detailed pictures before I can help you. Some need wood patch, others need sawdust, and still more need shims and/or wood splinters.

If you can PM me some pictures, I can probably help you get the spilts and cracks patched, but I can't comment until I see the actual damage.




Thanks Richard, I will send you some pictures. When I said OSB underlay, I meant that I can see OSB from the basement, looking up. I have no idea what was put over the top of it. What would have been better for decking? Regular plywood?
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 4:00:12 PM EDT
Are you talking about the gaps between the boards or the boards splitting?
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 4:00:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/3/2006 4:03:38 PM EDT by richardh247]

Originally Posted By BillofRights:

Originally Posted By richardh247:

Your sub-floor is not level, and the joists or underlayment have warped - either through settling or through incorrect cuts.

OSB for decking? Not on my jobs! That's your problem right there... Of any type OSB used in decking except for roofing.

More specifically, the OSB has expanded, as all composite woods do. The laminates in the wood expand and contract, which "moves" the base your floor is laid on. In your case, the OSB was butted seam to seam, so it can't move side to side. It can't go down, because the joist is right there, Naturally, it seeks the easiest way, which is up - and pushes against the boards, which cracks them.

7 years for a house to settle is normal for a decent, meduim grade houss.

All in all, you are the victim of what so many people fall prey to: shitty installment. Sorry, bro

Typical housing these days. Fuckers.

Anyway, filling the splits and cracks is not something you want to do now. Wait for summer, because this is the next big temperature change. Do it earlier, and your patches will split, too, and a patched patch will never look right.

To patch the splits, I'd need to see detailed pictures before I can help you. Some need wood patch, others need sawdust, and still more need shims and/or wood splinters.

If you can PM me some pictures, I can probably help you get the spilts and cracks patched, but I can't comment until I see the actual damage.




Thanks Richard, I will send you some pictures. When I said OSB underlay, I meant that I can see OSB from the basement, looking up. I have no idea what was put over the top of it. What would have been better for decking? Regular plywood?



1. You're welcome. I'll do anything I can to help a fellow that needs some help. I'm sure you've returned the favor before I ever became a member. That's what we do here.

2. When I see the pictures, I'll post my suggestions publicly so that anyone with a better knowledge than I can input their corrections.

3. Plywood is always a better material for interior decking, and here is why:

Plywood is several sheets of wood glued together, but done so in a manner that each layer of wood is separate and bound to the other through the adhesive.

OSB is basically a particle board. In other words, OSB is dust, sawdust, wood chips, and splinters that are bound together with an adhesive. It is stronger and less prone to breaking than is plywood - but because of the amount of material injected that constitutes an adhesive, it moves more. It is also more resistant to outside elements, which is why it is superior for roofs; and surfaces that have exterior applications like Dryvex and Stucco.

It has a downfall: it is prone to warping (changing its thickness) and expansion (changing its length and width). Hence, it should not be used for interior applications such as decking for a floor, soundproofing walls, countertops, and etc. In those instances, plywood is less supporting but much more able to cope with internal changes in temperature and humidity. In other words, each has a purpose, and messing up the specific purpose or confusing them leads to problems... Such as you now face.

I'll await your PM, and hopefully I can help you sir.

ETA for clarity: OSB is meant for seasonal changes, and plywood is meant to be kept at a fairly constant temperature, such as inside the house where conditioned air is present.
Link Posted: 4/3/2006 7:50:00 PM EDT
OK I got a slight problem with the verbage above. There are a number of factual inaccuracies, although it appears that the writer has a lot of installation experience and horse sense.


1) there is a large difference between particle board and OSB. O stands for oriented, which means
that the different "Flakes" of wood layered across the thickness of the panel have a designed fiber orientation, as opposed to the randomly oriented particleboard.

2) OSB is generally laid up with the same sort of thermoset, phenolic-based resin as plywood. If laid up right, phenolic resin is permanent and does not degrade. Some OSB uses melamine type adhesive, but it is more expensive and much less common. Some may use isocyanate, but ditto.

In stark contrast 99% of particleboard is NOT laid up with the "good" glue. It is generally made with urea formaldehyde glue which is less stable. .

There is no real comparison betweeen particleboard and OSB, except for the fact that they are composed mostly in 4X8 sheets.

3) OSB is not more waterresistant than plywood. This is why JM Huber Corp came out with its OSB-on steroids. It has (IIRC) an increased resin content, that provides a longer window between installation and dry in, thus to better compete with plywood.

4) Warpage. I have made a lot of plywood in a mill that produced a minimum of 300,000 sheets per month. Some shitty, some ok. I have knifed a whole bunch of plywood. And I have stood in back of a 40 slot plywood press and watched plywood warp like a son of a gun. They looked like pringles , and the press operators ran around like raped apes to get the damn things
off the shaker rack before the process really went downhill.

We had numerous tricks to try to prevent warpage, at least until it was shipped to the customer.



General rule of thumb as expressed to me by my wood composites prof and more or less I agree with it: If you can pick the producer, plywood can be ferociously excellent stuff, which will outperform any OSB. If you cannot pick the manufacturer, you would be more likely to get a consistently good product with OSB.

As for me, I wouldn't lose sleep over have OSB underlayment. I like plywood better, but for nitpicky issues rather than outright performance. OSB is plenty strong and plenty durable enough for the application.

As for your problem, I am pretty sure that your problem is caused by humidity change between your house and the place of manufacture of the flooring. This was what some other people said.

Wood is "anisotropic," which basically means that if you take a 8' 2X4, and take it from 2% moisture to 25% moisture, you will get around a 6-7% difference along 2" dimension, a little less along the 4" dimension and only about 1% difference or less along the axial (8') dimension.

So as your flooring dries from maybe 10% to 3% in that fabulous dry mountain air, you are probably going to experience about 3-4% shrinkage . Which adds up over 40 planks.
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