(see graphic) "Washboard". Across the width of one piece of the flooring
material, the edges are high, the center is lower. Generally
CAUSE: Moisture imbalance through the thickness is the only cause.
The material was manufactured flat and was flat when
installed. Job site or occupant provided moisture is greater
on the bottom of the piece than on the top. Prove it with
your moisture meter. Find the source of moisture and
eliminate it. Common moisture sources and their corrections
are: Airborne (Relative Humidity) - dehumidify air space or (lack
of during heating season humidify air space); wet basement -
ventilate, dehumidify; crawlspace groundcover/vents, add
exhaust fan on timer; lot topography - french drain to
remove; rain handling provisions - correct to drain away
from house; excessive lawn/garden moisture -
reduce/waterproof foundation; leaks plumbing, roof, doors -
fix; don't hose patio; maintenance; correct capillary
through slab - install barrier, french drain, drain tiles.
In kitchens, the dishwasher and ice maker are notorious
leakers. Expansion is also the result of site moisture and may have
moved the floor tight to vertical surfaces. If so, remove
flooring along the wall, or saw cut, to relieve pressure.
CURE: Allow time. Time for the corrections to take effect - to
permit the floor to improve on its own. It may become
acceptable . After stabilized, sand flat and finish. Cost of
corrections should be for owner or builder to cover.
"CROWNING", or the center of the piece of flooring
(across its width) is high, the edges are lower.
CAUSE: While moisture imbalance might be the cause (by excessive
moisture introduced on the finish side of the floor; i.e.
water used in maintenance, plumbing leaks overhead sprinkler
system), it is more likely that the floor was cupped
(problem #I) and sanded flat thus removing the outer edges,
the sanding having been done at the wrong time, i.e., before
corrections were made and before the floor flattened on its
CURE: After the floor has stabilized following corrections, sand
flat and finish. Note: Some slight cup and/or crown can and
should be tolerated. It is common in wood floors, especially
in wider planks. It is, in many cases, seasonal in its
occurrence and can be minimized with lighting and furniture
placement, by using beveled products and by other than high
"BUCKLING", "tented", "ballooning" floors. Pieces of
the flooring are no longer in contact with the substrate.
CAUSE: Generally an extreme moisture problem. See Problem #1 for
sources and corrections. Inadequate expansion space, even
"net fit" (installer error) prevents normal expansion. On
nailed products, insufficient nailing, incorrect nails,
incorrect sub floor construction. On glue down product,
incorrect mastic, insufficient mastic, wrong trowel used,
inadequate mastic transfer, sub floor separation, sub floor
CURE: If caught early, spot repair/replacement may be possible. In
many cases, however, pull, correct, and relay/replace is
CAUSE: Inadequate nailing, flexing weak sub floor system, nailed
over particle board type sub floor. Check sub floor
thickness and joist direction. Insufficient or incorrect
adhesive. Subjected to excess moisture, excessive drying.
CURE: Add face nails, counter-sink&putty. Strengthen sub floor
from below. Inject adhesive or pull-add-relay. Lubricate
squeaks with graphite, wax, baby powder. Wedge sub floor up
CAUSE: Wood joist system - sub floor warped and loose, joists
warped or fractured, support pillars settled, perimeter
system - slab cracked and settled.
CURE: Correct, strengthen substructure, repair sub floor, splice
joists, add joists. Structural, failure is not the wood
floor contractors domain usually. Owner needs a general
contractor for repairs prior to wood floor corrections.
Quality or"Grade"- knots, heavy color variation,
out of-square, surface defects.
CAUSE: Consumer expectations, incorrect sampling, incorrect
ordering, mistake by supplier, manufacturer, installer error
(should not have installed).
CURE: Pull and replace offending pieces. Review samples with
CAUSE: Customer expectation, poor sampling, lighting over the floor
and room colorings. In correct maintenance including residue
of cleaners, waxes, etc. (i.e., Oil Soap). Wood itself
changes color with age ("Patina"). Extreme hot sunlight
through South/West facing windows. Color different under
rugs or low furniture from lack of exposure. Bleaching is
unpredictable - don't oversell expected results.
CURE: Compare with sample. Explain lighting and colors. Remove
residue and correct maintenance procedures. Move rugs and
colors will even out in time. Shade large windows.
CAUSE: High heels. Dropped heavy objects, metal tips on furniture
legs. Unprotected rolling of heavy appliances such as
refrigerator or freezer.
CURE: Remove high heels or maintain proper heel-tip protectors.
Provide large felt or rubber protectors under heavy
furniture legs. Roll heavy casters over plywood protection
only. For individual dents where wood fibers are not broken,
cover with a dampened cloth and press with an electric iron
to draw fibers up. Last resort sand and finish - owner pays.
CAUSE: Water from spills, water from continual source leading to
mildew (black) or decay (brown/white) or alkali (white) or
bleeding up of adhesive. Urine (dark) from pets, wet
diapers. Unprotected metal chair legs. Improper maintenance
with water or harsh chemicals. Traffic pattern wear.
Excessive harsh sunlight (wood looks starved near South or
West facing windows). Light deprivation under area rugs,
large low furniture. Be sure to observe if only one piece of
flooring is affected, or does the stain continue across
adjacent pieces. Oil soap residue.
CURE: Correct water source, let dry. Minimize sunlight. Relocate
area rugs. Correct maintenance procedures and products. Dark
surface with fine
sandpaper, feather out area, dampen cloth with 50/50
household bleach & water and lay on stain for 30 minutes,
remove, let dry, re-color if necessary. Waxed floors, clean
with renovator or paint thinner (combustible) and re-wax.
Whiteness/cloudy surface finish, clean and buff. If all
fails, screen and coat, sand and refinish, replace severe
STAIN REMOVAL GUIDE
SUBSTANCE FOR WAX FINISH FOR SURFACE FINISH
DRIED MILK OR FOOD
You may remove the superficial dried material with a sharpened
blade or a putty knife. Be careful not to scratch the finish.
Rub spot with damp cloth. Rub dry. Re-wax for waxed finish.
Rub spot with No. 1 steel wool and re-wax. If this fails, sand
lightly with fine (80 - 120 grit) sandpaper. Clean spot and
surrounding area using No. 1 or 0 steel wool and mineral spirits
or a wood floor cleaner. Let floor dry. Apply matching finish on
floor, feathering out into surrounding area. Wax after finish is
thoroughly dried. Use recommended cleaner and buff vigorously
with clean towel. Refinishing might be necessary.
DARK WATER SPOTS -
Clean spot and surrounding area with No. 2 steel wool and a wood
floor cleaner or mineral spirits. Thoroughly wash spotted area
with household vinegar. Allow it to remain for three to four
minutes. If spot remains, sand with fine sandpaper, follow the
grain pattern of the wood, feathering out 3 to 4 inches into
surrounding area, re-wax and polish. If two repeated
applications of vinegar do not remove the spot, apply oxalic
acid solution directly on the spot. Proportions are one ounce
oxalic acid to one quart water or fraction thereof.**Use
recommended cleaner and buff vigorously with clean towel.
Refinishing might be necessary.
HEEL MARKS / CASTER MARKS -Rub
vigorously with fine steel wool and wax floor cleaner. Wipe dry
and polish. Use cleaner to wipe off mark. Some marks may be
carefully scraped up with a putty knife.
Follow same procedure as for other dark spots.
Spots that are not too old may sometimes be removed in the same
manner as other dark spots. If spots resist cleaning efforts,
replace affected strips, sand and finish.
MOLD OR MILDEW -
A surface condition caused by damp, stagnant air. In all cases,
make sure the room is well-ventilated. Remove surface moisture.
The mold can usually be removed with a wood floor cleaning
liquid and No. 1 steel wool. A surface condition caused by damp,
stagnant air. In all cases, make sure the room is
well-ventilated. Remove surface moisture. If mold is on the
surface, wipe up with appropriate cleaner. If mold is under the
finish, refinishing is necessary.
CHEWING GUM / CRAYON/CANDLE WAX -
Scrape the major residue with putty knife or razor blade. Apply
ice until the deposit is brittle enough to crumble off. Cleaning
fluid poured around the area (not on it) can seep under the
deposit and loosen it. (Goof Off brand remover can dull the
If not too deep,
steel wool will often remove them. Lightly moisten steel wool
with soap and water to increase effectiveness. Re-wax.
ALCOHOL SPOT - Rub
with liquid or paste wax, silver polish, boiled linseed oil or
cloth barely dampened in ammonia. Re-wax. Generally not
OIL OR GREASE
Rub on a kitchen soap having a high lye content or TSP (trisodium
phosphate), or saturate cotton with hydrogen peroxide and place
over the stain; then saturate a second layer of cotton with
ammonia and place over the first. Repeat until the stain is
removed. NOTE: Ammonia may discolor the wood. Wipe up using a
recommended floor cleaner. Buff with clean pad or towel.
Should not bond to the finish. Pop off with a putty knife and
repair by rebuffing the wax. First try popping off the dried
material with a putty knife or sharp blade. If not easily
removed, apply a rag soaked with rubbing alcohol and let it
soften the latex for a few minutes then pop off with the putty
- Should not bond to the finish. Pop off with a putty knife and
repair by rebuffing the wax. Fingernail polish is based on
lacquer and can etch the surface finish and bond quite hard. Any
solvent strong enough to remove the stain will attack the
finish. The finish will likely will have to be spot sanded and
OXALIC ACID IS A POISON; USE RUBBER GLOVES. POUR A SMALL AMOUNT
DIRECTLY ON THE SPOT AND LET SOLUTIONS STAND ONE HOUR. SPONGE
SPOT WITH CLEAR WATER. A SECOND TREATMENT MAY BE HELPFUL IF SPOT
REFUSES TO YIELD. IF SECOND APPLICATION OF OXALIC ACID FAILS,
SAND AREA WITH NO.80-120 GRIT SANDPAPER, FOLLOW THE GRAIN, AND
APPLY MATCHING FINISH, FEATHERING OUT INTO SURROUNDING FLOOR
AREA. LET DRY. BUFF LIGHTLY WITH NO. 0 STEEL WOOL. APPLY SECOND
COAT OF FINISH, LET DRY AND WAX. IF SPOT IS STILL VISIBLE, THE
ONLY REMAINING REMEDY IS TO REPLACE THE AFFECTED FLOORING.
(NOTE: OXALIC ACID IS A BLEACHING AGENT. WHENEVER USED, THE
TREATED FLOOR AREA WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO BE STAINED AND
REFINISHED TO MATCH THE ORIGINAL COLOR.) FOR SURFACE FINISHES:
REMOVE FINISH AND TREAT AS ABOVE, BUT DO NOT WAX. AFTER AREA IS
THOROUGHLY DRY, COAT WITH SURFACE FINISH.
with a touch-up kit for urethane finishes, available
from any wood flooring retailer. For small surface
abrasions (scratch is white) a small amount of "Endust"
of a soft cloth, wiping with scratch direction will
bring back to floor original color
- Identified by eating corridors beneath surface which
when weakened, the fragile surface sags. The bugs are
white or cream colored. Subterranean type build sand
tubes. Powder post Beetles identified by 1/ 16" diameter
perfect circle hole in surface of floor. Active
infestation will show clean bright wood in holes with
fine talcum powder like dust piles around the holes.
Inactive holes are darkened, even show stain or finish
on walls of the hole. When in doubt, collect sample
bugs, consult exterminator, entomologist, or extension
Structure must first be rid of active termites by
professional exterminator. Repair structural damage.
Pull and replace damaged floorboards, sand and refinish.
Heavy infestation of powder post beetle, handle as
above. When powder post is occasional, few boards
especially in new floors, treat individual openings
immediately with insecticide (from hardware or garden
shop) injected by syringe into holes, or aerosol insect
spray through a straw. Usually will not disturb finish.
Have owner watch for new evidence (dust piles) and treat
again. After 2-3 months holes may be filled. Termites
will not be associated with the flooring and costs will
be the responsibility of the owner. Powder post may be
in new flooring materials. Immediately on first report
notify your floor supplier. Prompt action by all will
minimize costs involved. Check all surroundings for
infected wood molding, furniture (especially bamboo and
antiques). If old infestation is in other materials the
owner must stand the costs involved in floor repairs.
Wood Damage by Termites: Wood damaged by subterranean termites is often not
noticed because the exterior surface usually must be
removed to see the damage. However, galleries can be
detected by tapping the wood every few inches with the
handle of a screwdriver. Damaged wood sounds hollow, and
the screwdriver may even break through into the
galleries. Subterranean termite feeding follows the
grain of the wood and only the soft springwood is
attacked. Unlike dry wood termites or other wood
boring insects, subterranean
termites do not push wood particles or pellets (fecal
material) to the outside, but rather use it in the
construction of their tunnels. This debris, along with
sand and soil particles, is used as a form of plaster.
SUBTERRANEAN TERMITE PREVENTION AND CONTROL The best control of subterranean termites is prevention.
The best time to provide protection against termites is
during the planning and construction of a building.
Prevention should include: 1-Removal of all stumps,
roots, wood, and similar materials from the building
site before construction is begun. 2 -Removal of all
form boards and grade stakes used in construction.
3-There should be no contact between the building
woodwork and the soil or fill. Exterior woodwork should
be located a minimum of 6 inches above ground and beams
in crawl spaces at least 18 inches above ground to
provide ample space to make future inspections. 4-
Ventilation openings in foundations should be designed
to prevent dead air pockets and of sufficient size to
assure frequent changes of air - at least 2 sq. ft. to
25 running feet of outside foundation wall. This helps
keep the ground dry and unfavorable for termites. 5-
Thorough annual inspections should be conducted to
discover evidence of termite activity such as shelter
tubes on foundation surfaces, discarded wings or adult
termites. 6- Any wood that contacts the soil, such as
fence posts, poles and general foundation structures,
should be commercially pressure treated.
POST-CONSTRUCTION TREATMENT OF STRUCTURES Crawl Space Treatment Dig narrow trenches along both the
inside and outside of foundation walls and around piers
and chimney bases, and apply diluted spray as described
above. Also be sure to trench and treat around sewer
pipes, conduits and all other structural members in
contact with the soil. Apply the insecticide to the
trenches. The insecticide must be applied to both the
inside and outside of the foundation and also around
piers, chimney bases, pipes, conduits and any other
structures in contact with the soil. The trench should
be as deep as the top of the footing. Mix the
insecticide with water as recommended on the pesticide
label. Apply the diluted spray at the rate of 2 gal. per
5 linear feet of trench. Mix the insecticide with the
soil as it is being replaced.
Slab Construction It is possible to trench around the outside of a slab
after it has been poured, as described above, but this
alone usually will not give satisfactory control because
the termite colony may be entering the structure from
the soil under the slab. Homeowners are not equipped to
treat under slabs after the slab foundation is
completed. A professional pest control operator usually
is needed to do sub-slab
chemical injections. Most subterranean termites feed
along the grain of the wood, eating the spring wood and
leaving the summer wood. The Formosan termite feeds on
both and forms a hollow. In Hawaii, where unprotected
homes were built over large colonies, records show that
the Formosan subterranean termite caused major
structural damage in 6 months and almost complete
destruction in 2 years (Tamashiro 1984). Moisture
Requirements The Formosan termite, like all subterranean
termites, uses the soil for a source of moisture.
However, Formosan termite colonies can obtain moisture
from plumbing or roofing leaks.
INSPECTION OF CONCRETE SLAB CONSTRUCTION Inspect for evidence of termite activity near any
plumbing that goes through the slab. Look for tubes
around baseboards. Tap baseboards around walls. Check
for wood which is in contact with the soil.
CAUSE: Security -conscious vacationers, a homebuilder's unsold
inventory, whenever a wood floor is deprived of an air
flow in the environment, it can and will misbehave.
Sunlight through windows generates heat, lowers
humidity, moisture vapor enters to balance, nights cool
off, humidity builds and wood floors cup. Thermostats
set at 60 degrees and outside, winter howls, heating
system runs constantly with no moisture added, and
CURE: Avoid problems by leaving windows "ajar", have neighbor
air the house out occasionally. Treat floors as
discussed under cupped, tented, or shrinkage cracks and
only after environment returns to normal. Owner to pay. The above commonly ask questions will help you and your
wood floor contractor resolve some of the everyday
concerns about wood floors. By no means is this a sure
method or procedure. If in doubt, get a second opinion.
Buying a HOME with Wood Floors, What to look for?