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Question DetailsAsked on 5/5/2013

new floor install hardwood floor separates at seems in winter, can this be resolved

Hickory floor installed two years ago and finished in place, strong green wood smell. seams all seprarated first , winter ,installer said wait another winter and we did, same problem, they refinished the floor, filled seems,etc. and the problem is back, can this be fixed? thank you

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2 Answers


You may want to install a humidifier. The reason the seams are appearing in the winter months is because of the drier air which causes the wood to shrink.

You can either purchase a portable humidifier, which I recommend, or have one installed on your forced air furnace. The problem with this type of humidifier is they can be the cause for poor indoor air quaility. The moisture in the duct pipe will collect dust which mold can thrive on. It is recommended to have your duct pipes cleaned every year if you use a humidifier that is installed on the furnace.


Answered 7 years ago by Homefront Inspection


Sounds like you have a full-thickness hickory floor, not an overlay or laminate.

If this is "floating floor" on a padding and not fastened down anywhere, then you have a product or installation problem - the joints were not properly glued or hammered together hard enough to fully interlock, the glue at the joints did not bond properly, or the snap-joints were mismanufactured and did not lock together properly.

If a solid hardwood plank floor with each strip nailed into the subfloor: Unfortunately, this sort of problem is why so many people now go with look-alike laminates. The problem is that the wood picks up moisture in the humid season (summer in almost all areas), then in the winter when the heating system dries out the inside air, the wood shrinks. Certain species such as poplar, cedar, and - yes - hickory, are more susceptible to this. Laminates do not do this anywhere as much, because the different laminations inthe product go both directions like plywood, which stabilizes it and reduces swelling and shrinkage. Whether you are looking at a defective installaton or not would be open to interpretation - and clearly, yours and the contractor's views will probably not coincide.

The only solution I could offer, and this might well not work, would be complete removal by cutting the nails underneath the flooring (so as to salvage it for reuse), pullingthe existing nails (to avoid interference), and relaying it. There are two reinstallation options - one would be a high-strength glue in addition to the nails, the other would be glue only with the floor installed on a bond-breaker plastic pad, and turn it into a "floating" floor. However, especially in the first case, if it still swells and shrinks considerably, the seam gaps could turn into splits instead because of the glue holding the joints tight, and of course gluing the joints pretty much eliminates any chance of future tearup without destroying the wood.

I am really surprized the flooring contractor did not suggest installing an automatic humidifier / dehumidifier, to keep inside moisture down in the summer and elevate it above the usual dry winter conditions.

This is a tough situation - I wish you luck with it.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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