There’s just something about timber that makes it perfect for flooring solutions. The natural texture, the unique shades and grain, and the hardwearing durability, coupled with its versatility and ease of maintenance, make it a no brainer for a lot of homeowners and designers.
When working with timber flooring, it isn’t just the quality of the wood that you need to be mindful of. Being careful during installation can be the difference to ensuring that your floors maintain their beautiful look for years to come and a noticeable issue called peaking or cupping – and that’s not something anyone wants with their new timber floorboards.
Timber flooring installation can be a long process, so read on to learn from the experts how to deal with one of the common floor installation issues: timber cupping!
What is peaking and cupping?
Peaking and cupping refers to the possible issues that can arise with wooden floorboards. These two phenomena happen when there are issues with installation or if there are significant moisture levels, too.
With timber cupping, the timber floorboards will begin to take on a concave shape and the sides will be higher than the middle section. The side edges of the plank look like they’ve risen, leaving a “dip” in the middle of the floorboard – hence the term “cup” because of its similarity to a U shape.
To put it simply, this can happen because excess moisture has been absorbed into the floorboard, causing the edges of the plank to expand and put expansion pressure on the planks alongside it. This strong pressure can force the edges of the wood to rise because it has nowhere else to go, and this is where the U shape occurs.
On the other hand, peaking is the opposite of cupped floorboards, and occurs when the board edges of the floorboards are higher than the middle, causing peaks at the joins.
While you can expect wood movement in the timber that may seem like cupping or peaking to occur as the humidity changes from season to season, ignoring the signs of significant cupping and peaking can shorten the lifespan of your wooden flooring. It’s especially important to remember that solid wood flooring can be more susceptible to cupped floorboards especially due to incorrect timber flooring installation and excessive moisture exposure – this is because the wooden planks are made of solid wood. Engineered timber flooring is less likely to peak and cup over time even when the relative humidity shifts as its multiple different layers of wood provide better protection against moisture issues.
Moisture content is enemy number 1 when talking about peaking and cupping prevention. Common causes include big spills that haven’t been cleaned up properly, moisture leaking up through the subflooring, atmospheric conditions, leaky pipes, condensation accumulating on the edges of the floor… there’s a lot of possible ways that moisture can pool beneath the floorboards without homeowners being aware. Wood floor cupping and peaking is almost always due to significant moisture content changes.
How can you avoid this issue?
Use high quality floorboards
In the first instance, one of the best ways to avoid timber cupping and peaking is to invest in high quality flooring. Although other options may seem more budget friendly initially, low quality timber can be more susceptible to moisture and humidity. Certain types of timber are also more prone to cupping and peaking so do your research before you purchase your materials. As stated above, thinking about engineered timber flooring installation can actually be a good idea if you’re concerned about humidity or the surrounding air affecting your wood’s moisture content significantly as the seasons chance.
Install a humidifier or dehumidifier in your home
This helps to keep the humidity at a constant level. If you live in a humid area, work towards a dry air environment. We recommend using this whilst your flooring is being installed, and while the wooden floorboards are acclimating in your home prior to installation, too. Use dryers to speed up drying moist spots on the floor if necessary, and test your flooring moisture to really be sure that there isn’t excess moisture that the wood fibers can absorb during installation.
Leave the right gap between the floorboards
The gaps between your floorboards is one of most important aspects of installing your wooden floors and the moisture profile of the home needs to be taken into consideration. If the gap between the boards is too small, it won’t allow for contraction and expansion during changes in temperature, and can further exacerbate moisture problems leading to cupped floorboards.
Arrange expert installation
Installing wooden flooring is harder than it looks and if you’re not confident to do it yourself, it’s best to call on a flooring expert to carry out installation. A flooring expert has the necessary experience to do a precision job and prevent problems like cupping and peaking for your new home.
Although it’s best to prevent cupping and peaking in the first place, it may be too late and you can already see the signs in your wood floors. If this sounds familiar, don’t panic – in many cases the floors can be gently sanded back and refinished. However, it’s best you get an expert in the take a look at the extent of any water damage. In some cases, some floorboards may be too badly damaged and need to be replaced due to leaks or prolonged high humidity levels.
At Kustom Timber, we offer precision timber flooring installation Melbourne for a stunning final result. Our experienced in-house installation team work to the highest standards and our expertise means you can enjoy a hassle free process. Take a look at our extensive range of beautiful engineered oak flooring and then leave the rest to us!
For solid timber flooring installation Melbourne, contact Kustom Timber today on (03) 8609 6027.