How to Fix Warped Wood Floors

Warped wood floors in your home may feel like an almost unfixable issue, but luckily, there are ways to straighten out these areas so that they look as good as new.

What Causes Warped Wooden Floors?

Typically, moisture is the culprit that causes wooden floors to warp. That can come in the form of water or humidity, and can get especially bad during the transition in seasons, when temperature changes bring about the moisture in the air.

This unwanted moisture causes wood to swell, then contract as it dries, causing an unsightly bump or bubble in your flooring. Conversely, excessively dry conditions or too much direct sunlight can also be the cause behind floor gaps by causing wood to shrink.

Deciphering the Size of Your Warp Issue

Every floor warping problem is different, so it’s important to decipher the scope of the problem in determining how to fix it.

Small warps are typically characterized by small bumps in the wood. In these cases, the wood will be pretty pliable. Larger warps will take up more room along a wood board. Giant warps are more of a large-scale issue - and are thus harder to treat. These will be large in size and are most times attributed to aged wood, significant water damage, or a lack of attention and care to the space.

sanding a wood floor

Sanding Down a Warped Floor

The first method to fix a warped floor is to sand it. This works best for warps that come from humidity or a water spill rather than from a leak that originated below your flooring. Sand down the bump in your flooring until it is level with the rest of the floor. Keep in mind that this will require an aggressive amount of sanding in most instances. That means that about a quarter of thickness could be given up in this process, which is something to consider.

Fixing a Small Warp

You can fix a small warp issue quite easily. As long as the wood is still pliable, it can be fixed by moistening the area slightly, then placing a heavy object like a barbell or a cinderblock on top. Leave the weight for several days and let gravity do its job. After those few days have passed, remove it and see if the warped area is fixed. If the warp is still present, treat the issue like a large warp, as detailed below.

Fixing a Large Warp

If you have a warp that is larger than what a cinderblock can cover, you’ll want to replace the flooring area that is affected. Remove the warped plank. Once you do that, it’ll be easier to determine the root of the problem, if you haven’t already. For instance, an underlying leak could be the culprit causing your wood to move.

replacing a wood plank

After you’ve done some investigating, replace the plank with one of the same kind to match the rest of your flooring. Nail and secure the plank using the same installation technique that was used for the rest of your floor so that the look remains seamless.

If you’re having trouble sourcing flooring that matches yours or you don’t want to shell out the cash to do so, a useful trick is to “steal” planks from an unseen area within your home. For instance, take planks from a space like a closet or under your refrigerator. These will serve as a perfect match to replace the warped planks. Then, you can use whatever you want to replace the stolen planks, such as something more cost effective or something that’s not a perfect match.

Other Tips and Tricks

Finish Your Floors - To prevent wood from warping in the first place, your wood floors should be properly finished to protect against moisture. This means that the subfloor has a vapor barrier, locking out moisture and preventing swelling, contracting, and gaps regardless of the moisture levels or dryness surrounding them.

Limit Humidity - Careful humidity control can help minimize wooden floor warping. Run fans in rooms with wood floors and avoid exposing them to excess air conditioning. To create the best circumstances for your floors, run dehumidifiers to pull moisture from the air.