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rocks911 02-03-2011 08:48 PM

Cupping red oak floor
Heres a picture of my 2 1/2 year old red oak floor. The history of this installation is below

I live in the Dallas area and have arrived at this site hoping to get some ideas about what is wrong with my floor.

I bought a foreclosed home about 3 years ago. The house is 13 years old and was in really good shape, the pepole who lost it werent like most as they didnt trash the place.

There was an indication that a "flooding event" had occurred at some time in the past as there were water stained floor cabinet kick plates at a few downstairs locations, at a wetbar, a bookcase and the other side of the bookcase wall where the main bathroom is. The picture above is flooring in front of the bookcase.

I wanted to replace most all of the flooring downstairs but decided to wait to see if there were any water leaks in the house. After six months nothing had shown itself so I contracted to have about 1300 sf. of 4" red oak put down. I found the contractor through a friend who had his floor done similar to mine, it is a good looking floor.

I told the contractor about the water concerns and after testing the concrete slab he assured me that although the moisture content in the concrete was at the high side of normal, it was fine. He tested right where this picture was taken.

The day came to install and he showed up with a large crew and a truckload of sheathing and bundles of 4" red oak. The process involved putting down heavy mil plastic, felt, then the 4x8 sheets of plywood with 20 nails per sheet nailed into my concrete slab. Then more felt over the sheathing and the hardwood nailed perpendicular to the sheathing.

He allowed the flooring to acclimate for a couple of weeks before finishing. We decided on a dark mahogany stain with the floor sanded smooth (no distress or hand scraping).

I started to become concerned for a couple of reasons. He said that he had a hard time finding the wood for the floor, he said it was the last vendor he could think of that had the wood. Having been in the trades some years ago myself I know it's best to get your supplies from a place that has proved reliable over time. Well at any rate after the 2 weeks or so he came by to look at the floor and he remarked that the gaps he had left in the flooring for the purpose of giving the floor room to expand hadnt closed up. He actually stood there and said "huh!" and said not to worry that he'd "work his magic". well his magic consisted of filling the gaps with filler.

After two months I noticed cupping near my fireplace and gave him a call. He refinished the area. I was concerned about water maybe getting in at my chimney because there was no chimney cap so I put one on. After that everything seemed to be fine for the most part. There was some movement but nothing too drastic.

That is until this winter. The flooring in an area near where it cupped before is now cupping.

I had a chimney company come out to custom fit a cap and the old timer that is doing the work said that he doubted that the floor was cupping from any moisture from the chimney. The house is a 2 story and he said it was doubtful that water was traveling all the way down to the floor. I checked the flue myself and the underside of the roof where the chimney penetrates and there is no moisture whatsoever. As a matter of fact I've yet to see any evidence of water intrusion at all and believe me I've been looking.

I had a fresh water plumbing test done and all is fine there, no leaks. My yard grading is fine, no standing water.

I have yet to do a waste line plumbing check though they are coming next week as well as another flooring company rep. recommended by Southern Wood Flooring to offer an opinion.

I monitor the humidity in the house and as you might expect it's kinda low in the winter what with all the central heater use, but it doesnt seem to me to be an issue because we've had the floor in for a few winters now and surely it would have displayed a problem sooner. At any rate the humidity runs between 20 - 30%

I noticed significant movement and swelling during a major cold snap where it actually snowed a day or two. Dont know if the cold is problematic or the snow, or neither.

The installer wont respond to my e-mail's. I saved his direct number and called him the other day and he asked that I call back and leave my information, which I did, he hasnt called back. I cant find his electronic storefront any longer on the web so I dont suppose that I'll get any satisfaction from him.

I'm sick to my stomach from this and feel bewildered that after spending thousands and thousands of dollars I have jacked up floors.

Floor Doc 02-04-2011 02:21 AM

Time has nothing to do with acclimation . He needed to take MC readings of the wood , and substrate . they should have been within 2% of each other .

Without taking any tests i would venture to guess it is installation related , and that is why he is not calling back .

Ask this inspector who he is certified by. [Not all are equal].
I would also like to know if he is a mill rep .

rocks911 02-04-2011 05:43 AM

What certifying agencies should I want?
I want to protect myself from further damage by getting another supposed expert through my door to guess at what is happening.

woodman58 02-04-2011 06:29 AM

Contact the National Wood Flooring Association. 1-800-422-4556
They can probably give you names of lagitamat inspectors.

rocks911 02-08-2011 12:50 PM

Had a flooring guy by yesterday recommended by Southern Flooring and the guy said that the wood, both the flooring and the plywood, had normal amounts of moisture so he doubted that I have any leak that is contributing to the cupping. With the wet history of the slab he suggested that the slab should have been thoroughly dried before laying the floor.

So it seems yet again that I got a half-assed job where the guy was much more interested in picking up a check than doing what is best for the customer. Is there anybody out there these days that has a conscience?

The original installer is MIA, missing in action and not interested in my problem.

I swear I'm not interested in any more "improvements" to this house. My wife wanted new counter tops and I was saving for em but I think I'm done paying people to do a half-assed job.


rusty baker 02-08-2011 02:01 PM

With every nail he put into the plywood, he put a hole in the moisture barrier, so 20 leaks per sheet. With that much moisture, you could very easily have a mold farm under the plastic.

Floor Doc 02-08-2011 02:11 PM

20 wicks per sheet .
You have two choices if you can't find this guy .
replace it on your own , or have it sanded flat .

There are still a lot of us out here who take pride in are craft .
Problem is there are a lot more who don't have a clue .

<*(((>< 02-08-2011 08:24 PM


Originally Posted by rusty baker (Post 587112)
With every nail he put into the plywood, he put a hole in the moisture barrier, so 20 leaks per sheet. With that much moisture, you could very easily have a mold farm under the plastic.

Just for my own knowledge, what would have been the appropriate way to do this install?

Would you have done the same with the moisture barrier, plywood, moisture barrier and simply done more of a floating floor, only nailing the hardwood to each other or what?

Curious to know what the pros would do.

Jackofall1 02-08-2011 09:36 PM

I am not a pro but every thing I have read has indicated that the prep work involved in laying a wood floor over concrete are just not worth the time money or risk.

Just my 2 cents.


rocks911 02-10-2011 12:42 AM


I've got to agree, it's not worth it. At this point there are no good choices, a good permanent fix will cost me, as the last company that looked at it said, "a pretty penny". Dont put wood over a concrete slab.

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