Rolling hardwood floor

sapphire6917July 20, 2012

Hi all!

I have a problem with my floor upstairs in that right before you get to my bedroom door, there is a hump in the floor and, from there, it begins to slope downward on into my bedroom, which is also sloped. Can this be fixed? I'd like to get the floor refinished but that needs to be corrected somehow.

The flooring is the original thin strips of wood.


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The issue with the hump and slope is structural and those problems would need to addressed if you want a flat, level floor. Unfortunately those kinds of fixes tend to be pretty expensive.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 8:12AM
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Your problem is only a symptom of the real problem. Don't even think about addressing the cosmetic issue of the floor until the underlying structural issue is addressed. Get a structural engineer in for a consult ASAP and then you'll have an idea of how extensive the problem is and what needs to happen to address it.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 12:36PM
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There are several possibilities here.

1 - The hump is where they attached the part that is now the bedroom, and the slope is because they didn't bother to get it level. I have that situation where two sections of my house come together. They were built at different times.

Annoying, but neither fixable nor a structural problem. It's part of the "charm" of old adobe houses.

2 - The hump is because the joists that hold the floor are falling away from the beam (the hump) they were attached to or the supports of the other end of the bedroom's joists are sagging or sinking.

That's BAD and needs to be fixed before you wake up in the basement.

You won't know which is is without getting the engineer in.

The fix can be as simple as a "floor jack", or as complex as replacing the beams or adding "sisters" to either side of the beam por rebuilding an entire section of house.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Wow! I thought it was just an issue of warped wood! I will get with a structural engineer to figure out how to fix it. Hopefully, it won't be too much of an extensive issue. Structural issues are scary!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 4:44PM
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In an old house, there is a center beam which the joists tie was a practical way to build if the span was longer than affordable joists would reach.

As the house settles with time, chances are the center beam stays where it should be, while the ends of the joists near the outer walls have moved slightly with the is a good bet that the house has finished settling by now, and is nothing to worry about. If your foundation is fine, with no cracks, then it is a 'charming' feature you don't need to worry about; if it is still moving, call an expert in for advice.

Go ahead and refinish the floor....unless you are a perfectionist who must have things level. :) If that is so, what are you doing in an old house? :)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 4:19AM
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LOL! Columbusguy1, I am a perfectionist only with things that I create. I have told more than one person that, at over 130 years old, this old lady is entitled to have some wrinkles!

How can I tell if it is still moving? I will certainly call someone to look at it, if necessary, but I'm not exactly excited about paying someone over $125/hr just to tell me that, sometimes, old houses just aren't level!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 8:23AM
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I'd say, look carefully at the foundation for cracks--mark across them at a couple spots, and check back some months later to see if the mark is still straight--if it is off, then the crack is still active.

Also, check the point where the joist ends meet the center beam and the outer wall--are there gaps, or is the joint still secure? If the foundation has pockets the joists go into, is the joist still in it? Mine rest on the sill plate and are fastened into the rim joist...a similar arrangement fastens mine at the center beam.

If the first floor has the same amount of 'roll', then I'd say it is settling since the two floors have sagged the same...if only the second floor has this roll, then you might want to call in someone to check it out, since that could be a problem with the joist/wall joints on that floor.

By the way, how old is the house, and what is the exterior made of, both walls and foundation? My own house is frame, with a block foundation, and has settled with a slight dip to the north and means a marble will roll toward the corner of my parlor, and I need to realign the strike plate on the door between my kitchen and dining room if I want it to close properly. :)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 2:26PM
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Hi Columbusguy1!

I will certainly check the foundation and, if there are any cracks, I will mark them. As for that center beam, I'm going to have to get some help with that one because, while I do know what joists are, that's pretty much all I understood from your instructions! LOL!

The house was built in 1881 with a stone foundation and clapboard siding and has the exact same issue you described! I keep most of my doors closed now so they won't become misaligned!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 6:36AM
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Sapphire, since you know what joists are, the center beam is where all the joist attach to a larger beam running perpendicular to them...that beam should run the entire length of the house if it was built all at the same time.

The outside ends of your joists probably rest on the foundation wall, or on a piece of wood on top of the wall--if they are secure at that end, all is good. At the other end is the center beam...they could be nailed into it, or rest in a hole cut to fit them. If it was a timber frame house with large timbers instead of standard studs in the walls, you might see mortise and tenon joints, like how a door fits together.

The house my sister lives in is old enough that the joists in the basement are halves of trees!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 4:13PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Someone who has such little basic structural knowledge of houses should very definitely have a structural engineer come in to take a look at the home. While what Columbusguy1 is telling you may be true in your case, only an in home expert opinion can confirm this. Spend the $500 on the engineer before you make any plans about how to address anything in this home. If you have foundation issues, those trump everything when it comes to ranking for importance on your projects.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Thanks, Columbusguy1! I am having some work done at the house so I'm going to have my contractor show me what you described. I can go into the basement and see that everything looks good for the first floor but these issues are on the second floor so I'm at a loss as to what I should be looking for. He's used to me asking stupid questions!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 10:35AM
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