hardwood basketball court buckle

Why Would a Hardwood Basketball Court Floor Buckle?

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Hardwood floors are built to withstand years of foot traffic and activity.  But, in extreme cases, even resilient gym floors can break down and will need to be fixed or replaced.  One of the most significant signs that your gym floor needs an overhaul is when the floorboards begin to buckle.  In this post, we’ll talk about some of the leading causes that make a hardwood basketball court floor buckle.  We’ll also share some tips on how to maintain your gym floor to prevent it from buckling.

Why do maple sports floors buckle?

Hardwood maple floors are designed to endure continual wear and tear, while offering excellent performance over a significant period.  When properly installed, regularly maintained, and kept under the right conditions, your gym floor can last for over half a century.

However, certain elements can damage your floor to a considerable degree.  An example of this is when floors buckle, pulling the flooring from the subfloor and lifting the floorboards several inches or more.  This is one of the most extreme reactions floor wood can have when exposed to certain conditions.  Below are some of the most significant factors that will cause your floor to buckle.


Wood is a naturally porous material.  It can release and absorb a great deal of moisture.  If the humidity levels in your gym are higher than the recommended 35% to 50%, the floor will absorb any excess moisture. This will cause it to expand.  Similarly, if the humidity falls, the floor will release moisture and shrink.  Constant fluctuations in moisture will lead to more rapid decay and extreme reactions, such as floor buckling.  It’s crucial you keep an eye on your AC systems and set them to maintain the recommended indoor humidity at all times.


Unlike humidity, which will slowly get inside your gym floor and cause it to buckle, water exposure will cause your floor to rise and pull apart from each other quickly.  Severe water damage most often comes when the floors are flooded as a result of natural disasters, burst underground pipes, and other occurrences. 

While water damage may not always cause your floor to buckle, buckling is far more likely to happen if the hardwood floor is left submerged underwater for an extended period.  That is why it’s crucial to remove standing water from the hardwood basketball court floor immediately.  The sooner you clean the mess, the less time the water will have to spread to other areas of the court.  Fast action will also prevent mold from growing in the facility. 

Substandard Installation

Buckling can also appear when the hardwood floor isn’t correctly installed.  If the contractor hasn’t been following the correct installation practices or hasn’t used all of the needed tools, buckling can occur.  Moreover, buckling issues can also happen due to improper construction of the subfloor, subfloor contamination issues, or subfloor separation issues.  In such cases, you might be able to repair your existing floor and save money otherwise spent on a complete revamp. 

Poor Care

Proper maintenance is one of the key factors for preserving your gym floor for many years. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of gym owners forgo regular maintenance.  The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should only use the cleaning products intended for your type of floor.  Other products may damage it.  Sweep the floor daily, keep the water off the floor surface, and ensure your ventilating systems are always working properly.  For more tips on proper gym floor care, read our guide to gym floor maintenance.

How to Fix Your Buckling Gym Floor

How you approach fixing your gym floor will primarily depend on what caused it to buckle.  If the problem came as a result of increased humidity inside of your facility, it would be relatively easy to fix.  In the event that the issue was caused by a water leak or due to poor installation, repairing it would require more time and resources.  This is because such situations will require a complete sports floor replacement.

Of course, even with proper maintenance, the time will come when you will have to replace your gym floor.  If more than half of your gym floor is damaged by water or moisture, it’s better to replace the entire surface than to spot repair the damage.  Also, if the floor hasn’t buckled much, but is old and no longer providing optimal user performance, it’s time to consider installing a new floor.

Basketball Court Floor Buckling: A Quick Sum Up

Hardwood gym floors are extremely durable and will last for decades when maintained properly. But, when exposed to water damage, moisture, and humidity, they might start buckling and cupping.  If you notice these issues while they’re still in the early stages, you might be able to localize the damage and avoid replacing the entire floor. 

In the case that your floor has been exposed to excessive amounts of water, the best way to fix it is to contact a certified gym floor company.  They’ll provide you with a quick and accurate assessment of your hardwood floor, and react quickly to minimize the damage.

As a full-service gym floor contractor, J&J Gym Floors has provided our services to thousands of clients who have needed their gym floors repaired or replaced.  We specialize in repairing basketball courts damaged by buckling, providing clients with gym floors they’re proud to use. 

Replacing or repairing your gym floor can also be an opportunity to change up the logos, add a new design, or replace some of the letters.  If you need help in determining the overall condition of your gym floor, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!  Just fill out our simple online form and schedule your consultation or request a proposal.