Common Solid Wood Floor Problem Bulging and Lifting

29 Mar 2012 |    |    |    13 Comments

My solid wood floor is bulging and lifting in the middle of my room.

If you have installed solid wood flooring and you’re finding that it’s bulging and lifting in the middle of your room, you’re not alone.  Solid wood flooring which bulges and lifts in the middle of rooms is, unfortunately, a relatively common problem.  More often than not, the root of the problem lies with the initial installation of the solid wood flooring.

Wood, as you are aware, is a completely natural product and as such expands and contracts with changes in atmospheric conditions.  It is for this reason that solid wood floors need an expansion gap.  If solid wood floors are fitted without an expansion gap, problems, which can sometimes be severe, are likely to arise.

Solid wood flooring takes in moisture when there is a high level of humidity in the air and then the flooring lets that moisture go when the humidity in the atmosphere reduces again.  When humidity is high, the wood expands.  Low, or reducing humidity causes the wood to contract again. This expansion and contraction process is entirely normal with solid wood flooring.

In a domestic setting, particularly in centrally heated homes, floors expand and contract with the seasons.  During winter months, when you switch the central heating on, wooden floors lose moisture and will contract.  The result is often slight gaps between the boards.  In the warmer months, when the heating is switched off, the wood will expand again.  The rising moisture in the air, which is absorbed by the floor, causes this.

When this happens, if any gaps have appeared over the winter months, they will more than likely disappear.  This natural process of expansion and contraction is unlikely to pose any sort of damage or distortion to your solid wood floor as long as it has been well fitted, with the requisite expansion gap.

If you are having problems with your floor bulging and lifting in the middle of your room, the chances are that the required expansion gap has not been allowed for during your flooring installation.   In order to illustrate, when a floor expands and touches a wall or door frame (known in the trade as a “pinch point”), the boards come under pressure, causing them to rise.   This is more than likely the cause of bulging and lifting of your floorboards in the middle of your room.

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  1. Steve Ilett's Gravatar Steve Ilett
    20/08/2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    We have had a solid oak wood floor installed and it is bulging very significantly in the middle of the room. The wood was stored in situ for a week before it was laid and it has been nailed to underlying chip board. It has an expansion gap of some 8 – 10mm all around. What can be the problem. Any suggestions most gratefully received.

  2. David's Gravatar David
    31/07/2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    We have a B & Q solid oak floor fitted as per their instructions by an experienced fitter. Skirting was removed and recesses cut back in to the architrave round all the doors to the suggested gaps of 15 to 20 mm. It is a floating floor so not pinned or glued. As stated in Steve’s comment, the floor is rising excessively in the middle. B & Q were no help. They sent an independent out to investigate and he concluded that it was a fitting problem. I was actually looking for a way forward, but they didn’t suggest anything. My fitter reckons that the floor should be secret pinned. Not sure if this will help. By the way, I am going to take up my case with trading standards, using the guidelines under the consumer protection act 1979.

    • simon's Gravatar simon
      05/05/2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      this is a common problem and is always most certainly caused by the expansion gap not being sufficient.i always work on 1mm per board.so if you have 40 boards across your room you need 40mm expansion-20mm all way round.this can be hidden under the skirting.this problem is easily rectified,if you take off the skirting on one side you will probably see that the floor is really tight up to the wall these last boards need to be taken out and trimmed down by 10 – 15 mm the floor will go straight back down as soon as this process is done .put your skirts back on ..good luck

  3. Christopher betts's Gravatar Christopher betts
    20/01/2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Hi hope u can help me i have a solid wooden floor down in my living room it’s been down over 9 yrs recently i bought vinyl and got it layed over the wooden floor now the middle of my floor has swollen up could u give me any advice as i dont no what to do will the swelling go down hope to Here back cheers

    C betts

  4. Joe's Gravatar Joe
    08/08/2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I have a new floor and it is or appears to be cupping and there is a ridge in the middle of the same room. the other rooms do not seem to have this problem, Could it be from poor quality lumber?

  5. Gwendolyn Freeman's Gravatar Gwendolyn Freeman
    17/08/2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Jonathan, the house I live in was built in 1921. It is all wood. Last year the wooden floor in the kitchen is bulging, rising. The linoleum is cracking wherever the wood splits. I hear noises whenever the floor is doing its thing. Is this structural settling?

  6. Gary's Gravatar Gary
    27/10/2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I live on a narrow boat and I’m looking to do a complete refit I’m thinking of using solid or enginered wood flooring for the walls as well as the floor …. are there any pit falls to doing this? has anybody else done this at all and if so what were the problems if any ?


  7. Govert's Gravatar Govert
    21/11/2014 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    We are amazed about the lack of knowledge of so-called professional woodfloor suppliers and fitters. We had a beautiful solid oak floor fitted some years ago. After half a year the floor started lifting and all boards were cupping. The floor was fitted with a 1 cm gap all around. A Ted Todd rep measured the humidity and concluded that it was within tolerance. He shrugged his shoulders and said that the cupping added character to the floor(!) The fitter has come back to cut the boards again. He thinks that the cupping will be permanent. Any experience if that is true?

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