Countdown to Halloween! Crowning: The Less-Than-Royal Issue Plaguing Your Floor
October 12, 2017
On Tuesday we covered that ever-annoying effect on your floor known as cupping. This is when your hardwood floors become overwhelmed with moisture and start to curl upward, creating a concave effect in individual boards. But what happens when you don't have enough moisture seeping into your floor? Or if a little more moisture remains than you thought? Yes, these too are issues and they cause a little something the flooring industry likes to call crowning.
Typically, when homeowners start to panic about their cupped flooring they immediately start scrambling to fix it. They let it dry for what seems like a reasonable amount of time and then jump to the sanding process in order to flatten the boards. Doing so won't seem like a problem at first, but they may find that the floors slowly start to warp all over again. The center of their floorboards will begin to rise up as the edges sink downwards. These are the tell-tale signs of crowning and they are hard to look at.
If you see this effect start to develop in your floors, you can be sure that somewhere along the line you misjudged when it was okay to start sanding. Time is of the essence when it comes to floors, and you have to be patient. Even though your floor might be nice and dry when you start sanding, it won't remain that way forever. Wood doesn't stop absorbing moisture just because it's been dried once. It will absorb moisture again when the drying process starts to close, so until it has had time to adapt to the normal (and hopefully regulated) temperature of your home you won't be looking at the real deal. You will instead see wooden boards still infected with unstable moisture levels. If you sand the cupped floor flat at this point, the edges will be shorter than the rest of the board.
Imagine it like a piece of paper that has been rolled up and released. It will take a while for the paper to relax back into a flat position, right? Even with some help. But if you don't wait for it to take care of itself and instead decide to cut the curled edges off you'll be left with a shorter piece of paper. It won't exactly grow back, and neither will your sanded floorboards.
The best course of action in these cases is to simply wait for your floor to acclimate properly and then sand everything down again. If you're worried about this process at all or want to ensure that no damage is done to your floor, don't hesitate to ask for help. Those of us in the flooring industry want what's best for your home just as much as you do!