hardwood gym floor failing signs

Top 4 Signs Your Hardwood Gym Floor is Failing

Hardwood gym floors are widely regarded as the best flooring solution for sports facilities. They’re built to endure decades of foot traffic and withstand a lot of wear and tear.  But even the best quality gym floors need proper maintenance and occasional repairs. To guarantee the hardwood floor’s optimum performance, you must keep an eye out for signs that the floor is starting to fail.  In this article, we’ve singled out the top four signs your hardwood gym floor is failing.

What Causes Wood Floor Problems?

Before we get deeper into the main subject, it’s important to address the leading causes of gym floor problems.  Excessive moisture causes most issues, which can come as a result of several different reasons, covered below.

Improper Installation

Poor installation can lead to a long list of problems.  If your flooring contractor didn’t take the time to properly prep the subfloor and carefully install the hardwood boards, your floor would never perform as intended.  An improperly installed floor will absorb too much moisture and won’t have enough give to it.  This can lead to one of the most severe hardwood gym floor problems — buckling.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Low-quality indoor air can have a detrimental effect on both the facility users and the hardwood. It’s best to follow MFMA’s recommendations to ensure optimum indoor air conditions.  The MFMA suggests maintaining indoor relative humidity between 35% and 50%, and the indoor air temperature between 55 and 75 degrees year-round.

Correct air conditioning practices are especially important if you live in an area prone to high humidity.  Adjusting and controlling indoor air conditions during muggy spring and summer months will minimize moisture absorption in the floor.

Water Under or on the Hardwood Gym Floor

Unlike humidity, which slowly seeps into the hardwood pores, water can cause damage fairly quickly.  Damage can occur from leaky roofs, burst underground pipes, or even from a water spill that hasn’t been cleaned promptly.

It’s crucial to remove any water from the hardwood sports floor immediately.  Acting fast can prevent the water from slipping into the cracks and causing problems.  If water manages to find its way under the hardwood floor, it can lead to mold growth, buckling, cupping, and several other issues.  

How to Spot Hardwood Gym Floor Failing Signs

Most moisture-related hardwood floor problems are easy to spot if you know what to look for.  As a natural material, wood “moves” according to the environmental conditions that surround it. These movements can show you whether the wood is stressed or compromised in any way. There are four telltale signs which indicate that your gym floor is failing.

1.      Cupping

Cupping happens because of extreme changes in relative indoor humidity.  It occurs when the edges of the hardwood board take in excess moisture and rise above the center of the board. The wood boards become wetter on the bottom than on the top surface, leading to moisture imbalance.  As the entire gym floor expands, compression crushes the boards together and leads to board deformities at the edges.

2.      Buckling

Buckling is the most extreme sign that your floor is failing.  It’s when a hardwood floor completely breaks down and often requires a renovation.  Buckling happens when the gym floor entirely separates from the subfloor.  It can cause certain areas of the court to lift several inches. This severe reaction is a rare occurrence.  It happens after a flood or other natural disaster, during which the floor was submerged underwater for an extended period.  

3.      Crowning

Crowning is a process opposite to cupping.  It happens when the board’s center is higher than its edges.  Crowning occurs when the top and bottom surfaces of the hardwood board have different moisture levels.  Prolonged exposure to moisture on top of the hardwood floor causes crowning.  However, crowning can also occur on floors that have been recently renovated and weren’t given enough time to dry.

4.      Cracks Between Boards

Cracks between boards happen due to seasonal shifts that lead up to the dry winter months. Fortunately, these issues are relatively easy to avoid.  You need to monitor the indoor air conditions and take corrective actions to prevent significant temperature and humidity swings. Make the most of your gym’s AC and consider adding humidifiers to control the moisture.  Keep in mind that minimal gaps and shifts are a normal result of changing temperatures and generally don’t require any fixes.

Failing Signs That Are Difficult to Spot

Aside from the four hardwood gym floor failing signs mentioned above, there are also a few occurrences that are harder to spot.  Subfloor problems can cause some of these issues listed. And, while they’re much more difficult to detect, subfloor problems can have equally harmful consequences.  These problems often occur due to water leaks or faulty concrete or wood subfloor installations.

The most effective way to avoid these issues is to measure the moisture content before, during, and after the hardwood gym floor installation.  This is a process that should be taken very seriously, as it presents an invaluable way of resolving significant problems.  For this reason, you must choose a proven and reliable hardwood gym flooring partner.  

Fix Your Failing Gym Floor

Is your hardwood gym floor showing signs of failing?  If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms we’ve discussed on this page, don’t hesitate to get a professional assessment.  Whether you want to repair your hardwood floor or are planning on a complete surface replacement, our professional and experienced contractors are at your disposal. 

To learn more about how we can help with your next hardwood gym flooring project, contact us today!  Call (973) 801-7219 or fill out our quick online form and we’ll get back to you asap!