Expansion & Contraction

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s_290_210_16777215_00_images_expansioncontraction_expansioncontraction-01.jpgUnlike many floors timber floors can last the lifetime of the building they are installed in.

However home owners who want them to last that long should note the number one enemy of a timber floor. Moisture! Wood floors naturally expand when moisture is present and contract when it isn't. Whether this is a problem or not depends on the severity of the situation.

Following are some common results when timber and large quantities of moisture combine.

Cracks Between Boards

Almost all wooden floors experience some expansion and contraction as the seasons change due to humidity. During the dry months or when heating is being used this problem can be at its worse. This is preventable though as you will read later on this page.

Cupping and Crowning

As with cracks between boards cupping and crowning are natural reactions to moisture and should not be a concern if they occur only to a minor degree. Sever cupping or crowning though points to a more sever moisture problem. Cupping is a condition when the edge of the boards are higher and the centre lower. Crowning is the reverse.


Buckling is the most extreme reaction to moisture. It happens when the boards literally tear away from the sub floor and buckle up causing humps in the floor. This is the most extreme form of moisture damage.

s_290_210_16777215_00_images_expansioncontraction_expansioncontraction-02.jpgPreventing Moisture Problems

Controlling humidity is the most important factor in preventing problems with moisture and your wood floor. The correct maintainance will also go a long way in preventing your timber floor from having any of these rare problems.

Among the key points are:

  • Clean your wood floor with a cloth lightly dampened with a recommended cleaning product, using the manufacturers directions of use. Get A Gleam can supply you with correct floor cleaning kits.
  • Do not clean your wood floor with water or water based products on a regular basis. Clean only when necessary and clean only the soiled areas.
  • Never damp mop a wood floor. The water deteriorates the wood and the finish.
  • Never let a water spill dry on the wood floor.

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