Hardwood floor cupping - who to call?

theguidNovember 30, 2012

I had 3 1/4" hickory hardwood installed in my entire main floor, up the stairs, and in the upstairs hallway last June. Within the first month, it started cupping pretty much all over the entire house. I assumed there was nothing to be done and so lived with it for several months. Finally, last month, I did a little research and learned that it is often caused by moisture issues in the crawl space and that drying out the crawl space can help.

So, I called my installer and had him come over. He checked out the crawl space and said that many of the vents are covered up by insulation and that the moisture in the subfloor is up to 16 (which I gather is pretty high?). He seemed sure that, if we can fix the problems in the crawl space, that our floor should eventually dry out (though he doesn't really have much experience with wood cupping).

So, my next question is: what sort of contractor do I call to do an expert evaluation of our crawl space and fix any issues found?

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You need a vapor barrier to stop moisture from the crawl space from entering the living space.

Is there any insulation on the underside of the floors?

Your climate comes into play in how to make a crawl space 'work' for temperature and humidity.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 4:28PM
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There's black plastic on the ground. It covers everywhere nicely. There is insulation on the underside of the floors.

I know there are many considerations in figuring out what the issue is, that's why I was asking what type of person to call.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 11:37PM
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If the upstairs hallway is also cupping, it is an acclimation issue, with the boards installed drier than the ambient conditions dictate.

The installer should have verified the crawl space was to standard, before the installation started. The concerns would have been found beforehand.
The subfloor should have also been tested before the installation started.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 9:33PM
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Sorry to hear your floor is cupping.
There are many many factors that go into this problem. Humidity and temperature among them. I live in the Dallas area and have similar problems

I had a similar floor laid in my home on a concrete slab foundation. First a layer of sheet plastic was put down, then 5/8" plywood, then a layer of felt, then the flooring. My floor cups badly every winter. Mostly I think it has to do with the incredibly dry room air.

I wish I had had the floor handscraped thereby reducing the unsightly effect, but the wife wanted an elegant sanded and sealed look, unfortunately there isnt anything elegant looking about a badly cupping floor.

In the summer the floor isnt quite as bad.

I'm sure you dont want to hear this, but try to get used to it, a good fix is not probable.

I had several concerns about the relative humidity of everything...my home, the wood, the slab, etc. etc. and in the end the installer reassured me that it was all withing normal limits. A year after his install his company is nowhere to be found.

Next time I'm going with a sealed concrete slab, everything I put on it is an incredible hassle.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 10:05PM
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