Hi-- I installed an engineered maple floor on the main floor of my
house, on a subfloor over a basement. This was installed in fall and,
over winter, the floor has started to shrink in one specific area where
the HVAC pipes run underneath the floor.
I realize that this area is getting heated and as the wood dries out, it
Can anyone tell me if this is permanent or if some of the moisture is
going to return to this area during the summer, as the A/C runs through
those same vents?
Would it be worth my time to insulate the pipes from underneath the
subfloor, or is the damage done?
It's likely on it's own to not readsorb sufficient moisture to "grow"
back to initial size. Sounds like the material wasn't acclimated to
conditions for long enough before installation might have contributed to
Can't hurt to try to minimize the temp differential; moisture won't be
added just by the cooler air. You might, after the installation is in
place putting some open containers of water in the area and see if can
raise localized humidity enough to get some absorption. More success
perhaps w/ actually trying to dampen the shrunken pieces themselves via,
say, damp cloth overnight or the like.
Depending on the local climate and just how humid an area it is come
warmer weather I might just wait a summer and see what happens on it's own.
Out of curiosity, how thick and wide are the individual pieces?
Normally manufacturers ask that with engineered you let it climitize for
a couple of weeks in the room before installing.
I'd be curious to know the thickness and the width as well as the
engineered material i.e. plywood or mdf or hdf....
Thanks for the tips. The floor is 3/8" engineered, made by Bruce, 5"
wide planks of varying length (most are between 2-3 feet). There are
several layers of different types of wood composing the product and I am
not sure if mdf is one of them.
We did open all of the boxes and leave them scattered around the floor
of the house for 3-4 weeks, but not all of the wood was removed from the
boxes. For what it's worth, we laid about 600 sq feet, and we're only
getting gaps in this one section where the hvac pipes run across the
floor. The gaps are showing up between the narrow ends of the long
boards, not on the sides. A few are wide enough to stick a quarter into
without it touching anything.
There is not a central humidifier, but that's an interesting idea!
What I've done to "fix" gaps that open up between vinyl composition
floor tiles is to caulk those gaps with a colour matching caulk. I just
put painter's masking tape down on the edge of the tile on each side of
the gap, fill the gap with the colour matching caulk, tool the joint
with a soapy finger and pull the masking tape off.
You might wanna wait to see what the floor does on it's own come the
higher humidity months of summer. But, keep in mind that if push comes
to shove, you can always Google "colour matching caulk" and find lots of
places that sell acrylic caulk in a wide variety of colours.
Unless there's a way for air movement around the material, there's not
going to be a lot of moisture movement so I still suspect the
conditioning wasn't particularly effective.
But...that observable shrinkage is along the length is virtually
conclusive whatever movement is there is in the substrate or the
substrate is cross-grain to the face grain (and must be very thin veneer
or printed) because solid wood shrinkage longitudinally is almost nil.
As said before since it is preferentially occurring in this area it
makes sense to remove/minimize the localized heat source and try some
localized re-humidification efforts.
I'd also suggest contacting Bruce or an authorized Bruce
dealer/installer directly (but not the BORG; they'll have nobody who
knows anything specific)...
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