Floor Buckling: The Causes and How to Fix

By Samuel N •  Updated: 11/04/22 • 

Hardwood floors are not cheap. However, they are luxurious and can last up to a century when well maintained. When problems with hardwood flooring arise, the quicker you identify and fix them, the less damage there will be. Some common hardwood floor problems include cupping, abnormal gaps, buckling, crowning, staining, and normal wear and tear.

In this post, I’ll talk about hardwood floors buckling. We’ll discuss the causes and how to notice this problem earlier, plus some fixes to floor buckling. Enjoy.

Buckling is one of the common issues homes with hardwood floors are faced. If you notice a part of your hardwood floor is slightly raised, this might be an early sign of buckling. Before it worsens, find the source and work on it to prevent further damage. Below are the causes of floor buckling.

What Causes Floor Buckling


Water damage is the biggest cause of floor buckling and many other hardwood flooring problems. Because wood is a porous and hygroscopic material, it will absorb excess water to balance with the surrounding. Once wood absorbs water or moisture, it expands because the water is unable to move laterally, which leads to buckling.

A buckled hardwood floor due to water damage does not happen overnight. Check for pipe leaks, excess moisture, moist subfloor, drainage problems, leaking roof, and other water problems in your home. If you notice a stubborn water leak, fix it immediately to prevent damage. Accidental water spills might not be a problem. However, it should be cleaned quickly to prevent the floor from absorbing the water.

If the subfloor is moist, ensure you install a moisture barrier flooring underlayment to prevent moisture from going up.

High Humidity

If you live in a humid climate, it is advisable not to install hardwood flooring. However, if you’ve already done this, some of the problems you’ll encounter over the years are hardwood flooring swelling, buckling, or warping. With high humidity, wood absorbs moisture through the air, which makes the risk very high.

To prevent floor buckling due to high humidity, you need to reduce the humidity in your home. The best way to reduce humidity is by using a dehumidifier. Install a whole house dehumidifier or get a portable one, such as the Frigidaire FFAD3533W1 Dehumidifier will help reduce the humidity. Apart from getting a dehumidifier, you can also improve the ventilation using fans or opening windows.

Temperature Changes

Water and temperature changes are not the only culprits that will cause floor buckling; drastic temperature changes are also a cause. With extreme temperatures, wood will expand, and with low temperatures, wood will contact. With incredibly high temperatures, wood might expand enough to buckle. However, as the temperature cools down, it will return to normal shape or create gaps between the boards.

Maintain a constant temperature to help prevent buckling due to extreme temperatures. Ensure your HVAC system is never too hot or cold, even with outside temperature fluctuations.

Poor Acclimation

Before you install new hardwood flooring, you need to let it acclimate. Acclimation is the process of unpacking and leaving the hardwood floor within the room where it will be installed. A minimum of three days is recommended for the flooring to acclimate. However, read the instructions because the time might vary from one brand to another.

Failure or improper acclimation means the hardwood planks will expand or contract after installation. This will cause problems like warping, buckling, excess gaps, or cupping.

How to Fix a Buckled Floor

Prevention is the best option when it comes to hardwood flooring problems. However, if the damage is already done, it is time to look for a way to fix it.

Adding weight to Minimize Hardwood Flooring Buckling

Adding weight to Minimize Hardwood Flooring Buckling

Buckled hardwood floors can be fixed. However, this will depend on the damage done to the hardwood flooring planks. When stopped earlier, you can use a dehumidifier or fans and space heaters to dry the flooring and reduce the swelling, thus buckling the flooring down. If the planks buckle down, you can sand and refinish them. You can add weight like in the photo above to make the process faster.

This is an Extremely Damaged Hardwood Floor That has Buckled

This is an Extremely Damaged Hardwood Floor That has Buckled

With major damage, replacement of the floor planks is inevitable. If you were left with some planks after installing the flooring, then this will be easier, and you can replace the badly damaged once. However, consulting with a professional is advised if the damage covers a more extensive area.

Samuel N

Samuel N is the founder of Improve Floor and has been in the flooring industry since 2005. Since then, his mission has been to make flooring easier for everyone. He helps countless people with flooring installation, finishing, maintenance, and repairs each year.