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jellytoast

Engineered Wood Flooring warping question

7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

I bought home a sample of engineered wood flooring, wide 9 inch wide planks with a 6mm wear layer. In the few weeks that I've had it in my home, it warped (cupped) noticeably. Is this an indication that there will be warping once the floor is installed, or is it normal for a sample that hasn't been glued to the slab to warp like that? (I have not decided on this flooring, but it is a contender. I'd use the 7-inch rather than the 9-inch size).

Comments (25)

  • PRO
    7 years ago

    Wow. Samples are cupping in a few weeks. That's some IMPRESSIVE Relative Humidity concerns. I would take this as a hint. And consider the fact that engineered hardwoods are supposed to be MORE stable then solid, this is a HUGE concern in your home's environment.

    Check your HVAC system and balance your humidity (humidistat that REALLY SHOULD BE attached to your Heating/Venting/A/C system).

    If you do NOT have a whole home humidifier/dehumidifier, you will REALLY WANT to get one with wide planks. Anything over 4" is considered wide plank. And they are KNOWN to be unstable (or less stable than their 4" cousins).

    What brand? Where in the country do you live? What type of installation is planned? A photo of this phenomena would be GREATLY appreciated.

    jellytoast thanked Cancork Floor Inc.
  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thank you for your response!

    I live in Southern California where it is normally dry, about 5 miles from the coast so it's not super hot here like it is inland. I don't currently have a whole-house humidifier. We replaced our heating and air conditioning system a few years ago and it wasn't suggested, nor did I know that it was something I needed. Is that something I can still add now?

    To be honest, I don't really like living in an "air-conditioned environment" and the temperatures here are so mild that I do without heating or air conditioning altogether a good deal of the time. I like to have the windows open often (like today, end of November and the weather outside is lovely). My solid wood kitchen cabinet doors have no warping, cracking, etc. at all so I was quite surprised to see the condition of this flooring sample.

    The brand is Hermitage Collection. The installation would be glued down over a slab.

    Edit to add: The overall size of the sample is about 9 x 23 inches. When I put the sample on a flat surface, the edges are curled upwards about 1/8 of an inch or more, both lengthwise and crosswise.

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  • 7 years ago

    Have the same problem when we had a roof leak only dif was the gluey

    underside swelled up. Finally dried but left it curled.

    i would never install engineered wood flooring again.

  • PRO
    7 years ago

    @jellytoast...what is the surface you put the sample on? Was it the concrete slab? We always assume slabs have moisture issues until we test them and PROVE that they have moisture issues.

    Planks move AWAY from the direction of water. If they curl UP (like a banana) then the BOTTOM is wetter than the top. If they crown (like a camel's hump) then the TOP of the plank is wetter than the bottom.

    It is always possible that the SURFACE of the plank will dry-out SO FAST that the bottom of the plank (the thing sitting on the "flat surface") doesn't have time to dry-out at the same pace...and you can get the same cupping. Eitherway, the cupping indicates the bottom has more moisture than the top.

    Gluing to a slab is always possible. The tests for the concrete should be done. A high-end adhesive (can be $3-$4/sf) can be used for an UNLIMITED amount of moisture in the slab...so long as we throw enough money at it we should be fine.

    As for humidity, you will need to have decent control. That means you will need to be able to HOLD the humidity between 45% - 60% throughout the next 25 years. You will need to know what your AMBIENT humidity sits at for several months before deciding what type of added system you need. And yes, you can retrofit a whole home humidifier/dehumidifier (depends on what is needed...not everyone needs both). It can be a few thousand....to several thousands (or higher) depending on your existing system.

    You can purchase a "hygrometer" on-line for $50-$75 and place it around the home...making notes of humidity ranges. This is a simple thing you can do yourself to see what your home "sits at" without any help. You can then take those numbers to your HVAC specialist (show them the requirements for the hardwood) and they can draw up a solution for your home/system.

    jellytoast thanked Cancork Floor Inc.
  • 7 years ago

    Thank you for that info. Wow ... a few thousand to several thousand dollars is not an expense I was planning for, but I will definitely look into it, as well as the "hygrometer." I will have the slab moisture tested and will use the best glue I can get regardless of the findings.

    Is dryness as much of a problem as excess humidity? We rarely experience noticeable humidity here.

    The sample board was simply standing on end on the exposed slab, propped up against a wall.

    All this "controlled atmosphere" stuff confuses me. I've lived in a few homes in So. Cal. with wood flooring, one inland where it gets quite hot in the summer (but not humid) and two right on the coast. All three lacked A/C or a humidifier, and there were no issues with the flooring in any of them!


  • PRO
    7 years ago

    "Standing on edge...propped up against the wall"....If this had the SHORT end on the floor and the LONG END standing up against the wall (like a broom handle leaning against the wall) then this is not "cupping". It is bending. You've warped the plank. Please don't do that.

    I have rigid planks that will bend when left to lean against a wall (standing on the short end). In fact I have 60+ planks that have done this...that's why they can no longer be used for flooring = excellent display planks. This is why you are not supposed to stand the planks on the short end. They warp the planks and make them unusable.

    And yes, LOW humidity is even WORSE than high(er) humidity. Anything below 40% humidity can cause issues (checking, splitting, delaminating, etc). Please look at the range I have written: BETWEEN 45% - 60%. Those numbers are the lower and upper limits. Anything OUTSIDE those numbers are "inappropriate indoor living conditions for wood flooring".

    As for old(er) hardwood floors that have been in homes for a LONG time (more than 10 years) they will have "evened out". The first few years they would have done "X" and then, after 5-10 years or so, they would have come to a happy medium...after having gotten all their nasty reactions out of the way.

    This is a very common question when old homes get new hardwood. The hardwood will do everything we predict. And the OLD hardwood did all the same things...but it settled down over 40 years before. A sand and refinish and the "issues" become invisible. But you put a NEW wood floor in the same conditions and WOW! Watch out! "Defective product" yells the homeowner. The manufacturer yells back, "Uncontrolled living conditions...not our fault!" And the fight ensues.

    jellytoast thanked Cancork Floor Inc.
  • 7 years ago

    Thanks so much for all the info! I really appreciate your helpful comments and advice!

  • PRO
    7 years ago
    What is the species? I was gonna ask for elaboration on 'warped' too. Crowned or cupped or delaminating? In any event monitor the RH over like a span of a weak or so. Also you can perform a quick easy test on the slab. Get some 6mm poly and tape it to the slab air tight. Pull up that poly a few days later. Is it wet? Damp? Dry?
    jellytoast thanked ULTIMATE HARDWOOD LTD
  • 7 years ago

    The species is European Oak I believe. The website only shows the one kind of flooring.

    Elaborating on "warped" ... when I put the sample on a flat surface (my desk) the long edges curl upwards so they are off the surface by about 1/8 of an inch. The sample measures approximately 9 x 23 inches.

    I will do the poly/tape thing tomorrow!

  • 7 years ago

    Definitions:

    Cupped--center lower than edges along the length.

    Crowned--center higher than the edges along the length.

    Waned/Warped--flatness uneven, twisted on any plane along the length or width.

    Bent/bowed--not flat, ends curling.

    Lots of reasons wood changes shape. Moisture imbalance, grain orientation, inner grain tension, improper drying, improper storage, how the lumber was milled(flat/rift/quarter sawn).

    Seems there could be a moisture difference between where you live and where the flooring was manufactured. An example of that problem is furniture made of native woods in the far East often cracks when brought to the US, because the US is a less damp climate.

    Once the board changes, unless the reason is a moisture imbalance, most
    of the time the board will not return to the previous shape.

    Example: Years ago, I resawed a piece of 3/4" thick bloodwood(naturally deep red very dense grained wood---also fairly expensive) from the 3/4" thickness to 1/4" thick pieces. The piece I started with was kiln dried and dead flat, having been machined to the 3/4" thickness and stored on end at the lumber yard for weeks.

    Once I finished, I set the pieces on my work bench and quit for the day. Next day, I was horrified to find the two pieces had cupped almost 1/2" deep cup for the 6" wide lengths. I figured the wood was ruined, since the cupping was caused by the change in moisture content between the new and original surfaces of the pieces. A week later, it was flat again---the moisture content had equalized.

    jellytoast thanked User
  • 6 years ago

    Hi, did you end up using the floor from Hermitage Collection? If yes, are you happy with it?

  • 6 years ago

    I would like to know as well. The Hermitage Collection is a private label brand that is really hard to trace back to the origin. My local store sells it as "The Colonial Collection". You have it as 'The Hermitage Collection", "Villa Blanca Collection". I believe is all manufactured from a mill in China.

    jellytoast thanked slickrock22
  • 6 years ago

    No, I did not use it.

  • 6 years ago

    Can I ask why you didnt go with it?


    jellytoast thanked slickrock22
  • 6 years ago

    I decided against using such wide planks and, as slickrock22 mentioned, it was difficult to find any information on it. I will say that I don't think the warping I experienced was related to the quality of the flooring or to my home's environment. I had the plank standing on end in the garage. I had seen the flooring installed in a project and thought it looked very nice.

  • 6 years ago

    Has anyone used Hermitage Collection or Colonial Collection or Villa Blanca? (same wood, different names). What is your experience? I though 'Solid Core' engineered wood was supposed to have three layers but this only has two. Weird. Cancork, what do you think of this construction: http://thehermitagecollection.com? Thanks!

  • 6 years ago

    As the person formerly known as Cancork, I'll answer as best as I can. The two layers is a variation on a theme. What it does is reduce the amount of ADHESIVE used in manufacturing. They are still using a multiple direction underlayer....without adding extra layers. They core is made up of wood that is laid side by side in different directions. Kind of like a basket weave or like parquet floor blocks. The grains are running in different directions yet only one layer has been used.

    Less glue = better VOC profile. The UV cured urethane finish is a "ho-hum" type of finish. Nothing exciting. Just an average finish. The 6mm thick hardwood wear layer is where the money is!

    The urethane finish + 6mm wear layer means this floor is GUARANTEED to be "refinished" at least twice...maybe even three times.

    So....they have reduced costs by using a single layer of wood for the core. They have reduced costs by using less adhesive to make the floor. They have reduced costs by using a rather "regular" UV urethane finish.

    They have ADDED value by working with a THICK wear layer. And all the VALUE is in the wear layer! So....save, save, save so that you can add VALUE with the expensive 6mm wear layer.

    It is definitely a product I would take a strong look at if I were to work with an engineered hardwood. That being said, the urethane finish isn't going to give the scratch resistance that many people demand. It isn't that type of finish. It is going to scratch....because that is what it is designed to do.

    I don't care about scratches....I used to sell/live with cork. Cork scratches like the dickens. But I DON'T CARE! That's me. You are you. Only you can decide where to put your emphasis.

    Personally, this looks to have a great presentation....because the MONEY is in the 6mm wear layer! That's worth it's weight in gold! That is your "money shot".

  • 6 years ago

    Thanks SJ McCarthy. Can you clarify what you mean by "regular" UV cured urethane being "ho-hum" type of finish. What in your opinion is better? (We were looking at brand that was fumed too but didn't find a color we liked.)

  • 6 years ago

    Urethane is the lower grade finish when compared to polyurethane or UV cured polyurethane or even UV cured ALUMINUM OXIDE infused urethane.

    Urethane is an accepted finish - 30 years ago. Technology has moved forward so quickly that the producers who "only" work with urethane have been left behind.

    But a factory finished engineered plank with 6mm wear layer and urethane is a GOOD THING! Why? Because it can be EASILY refinished. An Aluminum Oxide finish is VERY HARD to refinish. Why? Because it is VERY HARD! It can take a professional twice as long to refinish these floors than the traditional urethane. And that's a BAD THING on a floor that is SUPPOSED to be refinished.

    Confused? Don't worry. Most everyone is....including the sales people.

  • 6 years ago

    SJ McCarthy - Thanks for the info! You know more than many sales people I've run across! We're also considering Mohawk Architecture (Medieval Oak) & Casa wide Plank (Greige). What do you think of those?

    Btw, this is for a townhouse style ski condo. We're redoing the main living area on the 2nd floor (living room, dining room, kitchen). Front door enters on 1st level into a tiled hallway/mudroom. Stairs will be carpeted up to the 2nd floor living area where we plan to put wood.


    A couple more questions...

    1) Which finish is best for spills and water resistance? (My MIL thinks we should do LVP or SPC. But I haven't found one that doesn't feel like plastic under my feet.)

    2) Which finish should I steer clear if one of my kids has respiratory issues?

    3) What does the UV cured do?

    3) Some of the aluminum oxide finishes I've run across streak white when scratched, I hate that! Is this true for all of them? (What's the use of being a little more scratch resistant if the scratches are more noticeable?!)

  • 6 years ago

    The AO finishes will all turn white with scratches. You can't get around that. It happens because: Aluminum Oxide is a WHITE POWDER....that is dusted over the liquid urethane and then baked/melted into the finish. A HIGH END AO is 9+ layers...each layer gets this "dusting" of AO powder. We are seeing "low end" stuff out of Asia that has a TOTAL of 9 coats....but only 2 COATS of the "scratch resistant" stuff (AO is only found in the top two coats).

    This SOUNDS great....but it is just a low end version of AO. A 5 coat AO finish would be BETTER than a floor that gets 7 coats of urethane and only 2 coats of AO finish as the top layers. Sigh. It gets more complicated every year.

    The UV curing is a technique that cures/hardens the urethane/polyurethane in SECONDS rather than in 2 WEEKS. This means the factory can package the planks within a day or two of the final coat of finish being applied. A decade ago, this process required 2 WEEKS of racking the planks so they could cure.

    The fast curing is believed to produce a naturally tougher/harder finish...but only by a snick.

    Ski Condos do MUCH BETTER in Fashionable Finishes. Especially if they are rental units. If the interior is going to change every 10 years, then it doesn't really matter how tough the finish is. It will be ripped out when styles change again.

    If you don't like the white scratches, then go with a natural coloured floor (natural oak, natural maple, natural cherry, etc). If you must have a fashionable floor, then go with a lighter colour. A DARK floor = scratch hell! A lighter gray/white floor = no scratches will be visible.

    Have fun.

  • 6 years ago

    We're looking at the Casa Wide Plank and the Villa Blanca Hardwoods, as well. I talked to the flooring store today and they've had great experiences with both, though they have a slight preference for the color range on the Casa Wide Plank (which was my thought as well). To me the only downside is that the Casa has a 4mm wear layer to Villa Blanca's 6mm.

    If you've already installed one I'd love to hear your experience!


  • 6 years ago

    Hello,

    I am replace my 2 floors house in Fountain Valley, California from carpet to Engineered Hardwood . Hermitage Collection in St. Tropez, 7.5 inch wide and Somerset Hardwood Natural White Oak 7 inch wide are my final choices. Please help me to decide. Thank you so much!!

  • 6 years ago

    Please start a new thread.