Needing some expert advice on how to fix some hardwood floor separation between boards.
Our house was built in 1998. Family room, kitchen and dining room all have hardwood floors.
Today we are noticing small amounts of separation in the joints between some of the boards.The worst separation is about the thickness of a penny and near a window frame. All of the other separation is a little less than the thickness of penny. This summer has been extremely hot and humid in Raleigh.
Should we be looking at filling the gaps with some sort of wood filler ? Other than this small amount of separation the floors in our opinion are in good shape with regards to the sheen, and very few scratch marks.
There may be a hint of some uneven boards where a load bearing beam runs parallel under the floor.
The house does have a basement, with a drop ceiling directly under the hardwoods. There is about 1 foot of clearance from the floor to the top of the ceiling tiles. There is insulation
between the joists under the hardwood floor.
As I mentioned the house is about 10 years old. Other than cleaning and dusting the hardwoods, and the occasional damp mopping, the floors have not been refinished or sanded or anything.
The only way to fix this issue is to remove the floor. Gaps between hardwood floors is common these days. Because builders do not allow the new wood flooring to be conditioned to the humidity of the room before its installed. As it drys even with the humidity of the south, it opens up gaps in the boards.
If the crawl space below was an issue you would see warping or cupping boards.
You also said that it appers that the boards may be uneven or higher where the main support beams are located. This is very common. But again it falls with the builder. They most likely used sub-prime framing lumber or undersized for the span floor joists. As the floor ages the floor joists will bow and shrink and accent the main support beam where no movement is occuring.
I am suprised that the floors were never finished. Do not attempt to fill the gaps with wood putty to close them up, If the wood is shrinking or swelling because of humidity in the home, the putty will pop out or if you decide to finish the floor the putty will not stain or finish the same.
AS far as the gaps by the window. These boards because their near the wall were most likely faced naild and were not pulled tight or the nails were not set where the floor joists are. Thus more movement and gaps. Very common.
Thank you very much for your response.
The small gap near the window, I believe is due to the fact this a bay window, which from the outisde the house is about 12 inches above the ground, and jets out from the house about 12 inches or so.
However, from the basement, you can actually get under the flooring. I have checked for water leaks, termites, etc. There is no evidence of any damage. There is also
insulation stuffed up under the joists in this section as well. I originally thought we may of had a small leak or something. Are the hardwood floors around bay windows more vulnerable to moisture or humidity issues ?
Yes all wood floors that are exposed to moisture are at risk. What may be happening in your case I assume is the seperation is in line with the main wall which is about 23" from the window based on your explanation. If this is the case it sounds like the jut out for the window is falling and causing the opening in the floor. But when wood swells with moisture it grows not shrinks. Which would tighten the gaps not open them. If the any moisture is coming from the outside or from the crawl you would find the wood cupping because the bottom of the board would swell as the top would remain dry.
Check the floor joists as they go past the sill that supports them. See if there is any sign of crushing of the joists where they meet the sill. In some instances if crushing is present (slight mushrooming of the bottom of the joist where it contacts the sill) insects or to much weight is on the joists which leads to the damage. Even if you looked for insects these little buggers can be in the wood and you will never seen them unitl they are really established.
If the floor joist was sistered to extend past the outside wall and not a single joist from crawl to outside the contractor may not have fastned the sister joist properly or it did not extend enough into the crawl for proper support. That is something else that can cause this seperation.
Personally based on what you have said however, I think its just poor prep and nailing.
Thanks again for your opinions and feedback.
I think our next step is going to be to get a couple hardwood floor contractors, to come out and take alook, and get there opinions about what should be done, or not done.
Since these hardwoods are directly above the basement, it should be somewhat easy for them to see whats going on, and how to fix.
Thanks again. I'll post back with there recommendations
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