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Ways to Rectify Cupping in a Solid Wood

from Jaxon Bolton on February 10, 2021
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Cupping or dishing in solid hardwood means the boards raise slightly at their edges making the hardwood flooring uneven across its width. The cause of cupping is an imbalance of moisture through the timber. This can be a result of a spillage on the home flooring, or because of the hardwood flooring gaining moisture from the sub- floor material.

Taking moisture reading of the underside of the timber and comparing this with a reading taken from the upper side will confirm this.

Wood always expands when it takes on moisture. It therefore follows that moisture on the underside of the wood will make the underside expand laterally. However, the upper side of the wood which has not absorbed any moisture, so this stays at near its original size. The immense strength of the expansion of the underside of the wood is what makes the edges of the wood curl.

On nearly every incidence of cupping that I have inspected, the flooring was laid onto a solid floor using adhesive- meaning that the sub-floor was too high moisture content. A quick and simple way of identifying the problem is by taking a moisture reading of the sub-floor. Usually this is just a matter of drilling a small hole into the sub-floor between the gaps in the board, and inserting the probe from a moisture meter. The reading of the sub-floor should be around 9- 11% moisture content. If it is higher, then this could be the source of the moisture.

As part of an inspection process, I also look for evidence of leaks from appliances e.g. dishwashers, and leaks from heating pipes, and poor or zero ventilation in the room. I also take a reading of the humidity at the time of the inspection, although this is merely a snapshot of one moment in time and does not necessarily give an indication of the humidity at an earlier time that may have caused the cupping.

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