Home & Garden

Handyman: Why are new wood floors cracking?

Q: Last April we moved into our brand-new condo. Just prior to moving in, we noticed that cracks had formed in between the boards of the new hardwood floors. The developer took care of the problem with a wood filler and then a wood filler stain, and everything looked perfect.

However, in the past couple of weeks, the cracks have returned, and they’re getting bigger, and there are noticeable broken pieces of the wood filler. And there is at least one board that has a new crack along its middle. The width of these cracks is 1/16 inch, but they are quite noticeable, because the floors were stained in a very light shade.

The developer was consulted, and his response was that floors need to breathe, and that there is not much you can do.

I have two questions: 1. In previous homes we have owned, all with hardwood floors, we never had cracks. So might this be related to wood quality? Does any other possibility come to mind? 2. Do you think applying a more elastic or expandable wood filler might solve the problem, so we don’t have to keep applying wood filler every year? If so, which in your opinion is the most elastic wood filler?

A: It is the builder’s fault, and he should pay for it. He installed the green hardwood, full of water vapor, making the boards as large as they can be, and when all was done, the dry air in the condo dried out the hardwood and the boards shrank, causing the cracks.

Then he put in filler, and that cracked and made it a bigger mess.

Normally, a builder will store the new flooring in a room so its moisture will equalize that of other woods in that room. Then, when laid, the new flooring will not shrink and everything will be similar.

The gall of builders like this one is mind-boggling – and equal to their arrogance.

All new flooring in that condo must be removed and stored in a room with other new flooring, until its moisture is equal to that of wood and flooring in that room, then relaid. He should pay for all that work.

Hotton: photton@globe.com