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Home / Common Questions / Prevent Hardwood Floor Cupping and Buckling with Waterproof Hardwood Floors

Prevent Hardwood Floor Cupping and Buckling with Waterproof Hardwood Floors

Prevent Hardwood Floor Cupping and Buckling with Waterproof Hardwood Floors

It’s no revelation that standard hardwood floors are challenging to maintain. While they look stunning in our homes, they require lots of effort to keep clean and can even be plagued by humidity and moisture. In turn, this can cause warping issues, such as cupping and buckling, which gives an unsightly appearance and makes you question why you wanted hardwood floors in the first place.  

Today, however, we have a revolutionary new flooring: waterproof hardwoods. While there are many advantages of waterproof hardwoods, one of the top benefits is its ability to withstand not only topical spills but moisture and high-humidity environments. 

Here at Twenty & Oak, we love our waterproof floors, but this is one waterproof flooring that stands out above all the rest! Let us introduce you to waterproof hardwoods–such as the gorgeous Raintree brand–and showcase its many advantages. 

How Moisture Affects Regular Hardwood Floors

While appealing to most homeowners, solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwoods are highly sensitive to water and humidity. And it doesn’t require a burst pipe to create massive damage to these types of floors either. Even extreme fluctuations in weather and temperatures can cause damage. On the other hand, it can also be caused over long lengths of time. As an owner of hardwood floors, you may need to observe humidity levels to ensure moisture will not cause immediate or long-lasting damage.

Relative humidity (RH) is the measurement of water vapor within the air. It’s important to understand this in terms of installing hardwood floors, as well as determining the underlying cause of cupping and buckling.

During the winter season, for example, we crank up the heat to stay warm. But while doing so, the moisture from hardwoods evaporates and floorboards tend to contract, creating gaps between planks. 

installing wooden floor in home

In the early summer months, humidity abounds, especially if you live in hot Southern climates. When this occurs, hardwood flooring tends to do the reverse–it expands. This can cause warping issues such as cupping, or in severe cases, even cracked and split planks.

Of course, you can check RH levels in your house with a hygrometer. With these handy devices, you can supervise temperatures and maintain levels between 40 and 50 percent all year long. But this takes much more effort and isn’t always conducive to a homeowner’s everyday lifestyle. As a homeowner, the best flooring is worry-free, hassle-free flooring.     

Hardwood Flooring Issues

For the most part, hardwood floors adapt and stabilize quite well to their surrounding environment and humidity levels. In extreme, fluctuating weather, it’s even common to hear a creak or two as your hardwoods adjust and the house settles, so there’s no need to worry. However, it’s when there is an extreme fluctuation in moisture that there’s a cause for concern, as the air’s water vapor levels sneakily accumulate, resulting in the swelling of floorboards that seem to appear out of nowhere.

The three most common types of swelling are cupping, buckling and peaking, and each have distinct signs and characteristics that point to a particular type of issue. Understanding each can help you determine what is going on in your home.

Cupping Hardwoods

Cupping occurs when hardwood planks bow inward, creating a concave “cup” shape. While both engineered and solid hardwoods can experience cupping, they do so in different manners because the offending moisture creates distinct effects in each material. 

Cupping is a result of underlying water damage, typically coming from beneath the floorboards. While this effect identifies a serious leak, usually caused by household appliances such as the dishwasher or plumbing problems that can be easily addressed and fixed, the more difficult and sneakier culprit is water vapor.    

   common types of hardwood flooring issues

Buckling Hardwoods

Buckling is like the opposite of cupping, bowing upward into a peak instead of inward, and sometimes even lifting off the flat underlayer surface. Buckling hardwood floors occur when there is excessive moisture, caused by flooding or a build-up in moisture from, say, your basement’s concrete slab subfloor.

Peaking Hardwoods

Peaking appears much like buckling but occurs from a different cause. Unlike buckling, which is caused by moisture damage, it’s typically caused by improper installation. 

Since wood flooring contracts and expands along with humidity levels, getting a wood flooring installed correctly is crucial. You must maintain a small gap between each floorboard, as well as between the flooring and the walls. If you fail to do this, the wood becomes constricted as it expands. With nowhere else to go, it begins to peak instead. 

The Pains of Correcting Warped Floors

Both engineered hardwoods and solid hardwood flooring can experience issues such as cupping, buckling and peaking. However, should they happen, these disasters are not exactly easy to fix. 

One option for homeowners is to get the individual planks and floorboards replaced, ensuring enough time to dry to normal RH levels. A second option is to sand the warped floor back to an even surface. These are just some of the pains of correcting warped floors, and it’s no fun.  

As you can see, both methods are quite the hassle and incredibly inconvenient. As an alternate option, Twenty & Oak recommends the latest waterproof hardwood floors. Not only are they just as beautiful as the real thing–because they are the real thing–but they’re perfect for moisture-prone areas of a home, if not the entire home. 

The Rise of Waterproof Hardwood Flooring

Raintree Flooring | Aspen Estates, First Flurry

When waterproof flooring first hit the market last year, it didn’t go all that great. In fact, it was more of a flop. The flooring had a plastic-like appearance and looked more artificial than its vinyl and laminate counterparts. Not to mention, waterproof vinyl was more affordable, leaving many turned off and wondering, “what was the point?”

Unfortunately, this resulted in a skeptical outlook on waterproof hardwoods, as well as simply the fizzle of excitement for a new category of flooring. 

When Raintree was launched, new excitement for waterproof hardwoods picked up again. In fact, this time, waterproof hardwood flooring was a real gamechanger. And that’s because Raintree is manufactured as real, genuine hardwoods with the same natural beauty.

The Many Benefits of Waterproof Hardwood Flooring

Waterproof hardwood flooring, like Raintree, has numerous benefits that outweigh your typical engineered hardwoods and solid hardwoods of which homeowners are accustomed. 

From sustainability to easy installation that can eliminate issues like peaking, there are many reasons why homeowners should consider this flooring type. Here are the many benefits of waterproof hardwood flooring you should consider:

  • Durable, Moisture-Resistant Construction—Waterproof hardwoods offer a rigid composite core that is more durable than engineered wood and wood plastic composite (WPC) flooring.

  • Sustainability—Lacey Act-compliant Raintree hybrid wood flooring uses less hardwood than other wood constructions, offering a more sustainable flooring choice for green-friendly homes.   

  • Acoustical Qualities—Backed with attached microcellular foam padding, waterproof hardwoods can tamper noise levels and also provide a layer of insulation.  

  • Kid and Pet-Friendly Finishes—A top layer finish with a scratch-resistant barrier protects against pet accidents and rowdy kids. Raintree specifically offers its NINJA Pet Guard™ finish with urethane and aluminum oxide. 

  • Easy Installation—Waterproof hardwood floors are easy to install without needing to glue. Raintree, for example, also uses a UNICLIC Precision Milled Tongue and Groove system. This type of installation means fewer open joints and easy repairs. 

organic woodgrains without repeats graphic

  • Organic Woodgrains without Repeats—Some waterproof floors are made to resemble wood, but consist of repeated woodgrain prints. But with authentic hardwoods, waterproof hardwoods offer a natural, organic wood grain enhanced by only stains and textures.  

  • Style and Color Variety—Waterproof hardwoods can look as rustic or smooth as any real wood. It offers the same character and dimension, such as textured wire brush effects and traditional heirloom plank widths. Raintree alone offers 14 total styles and colors.  

  • Increased Resale Value—Installing waterproof hardwoods can increase home resale value, which means it’s a great investment. Before, you had to choose between hardwoods and waterproof floors, but today, you can have both! In fact, the National Wood Flooring Association recognizes waterproof hardwoods as real hardwoods, meaning you can market your home sale ad as so. 

Rooms to Consider for Waterproof Hardwoods

Laguna Vibes, Soleil


The kitchen is considered the heart of the home. It’s where everyone gathers to cook, converse and entertain. So, it’s no surprise that this section of the home sees lots of foot traffic and drink spills. For kitchens, it's imperative the flooring is durable and resilient. And if it looks like hardwood, even better!

While there are many flooring options for kitchens, waterproof hardwoods are perfect, providing an easily cleanable surface with the strength of its rigid core technology. With standard solid hardwoods, homeowners have to be more diligent and address spills as they happen. But with waterproof hardwoods, homeowners have a bit more peace of mind. 


Used by the family and guests, bathrooms see lots of foot traffic, moisture and humidity. For this reason alone, bathrooms could benefit from waterproof hardwood flooring. With every steamy shower or puddled bathwater, you take the risk of a more serious structural damage.   

waterproof hardwoods in bathrooms graphic

But with waterproof hardwoods, you can have the same beauty as real hardwoods along with a practically effortless ease of installation. Plus, waterproof hardwoods have that rigid core layer to act as a strong barrier against any moisture or leaks. Never worry about wet footprints or leaving wet towels on the floor anymore! 

Laundry Rooms and Mudrooms

Laundry rooms put out tons of moisture, plus the accidental overflow of a washing machine. So, it’s imperative to install waterproof flooring in these areas, too. 

Mudrooms are built for the coming and going of dirty shoes and wet coats and umbrellas. Made to withstand wet weather, slushy snow and other elements, waterproof hardwoods make an extra-durable, lovely addition to mudroom floors. 


Basements are notorious for moisture build-up, especially in humid climates like the South. If you plan to remodel a basement into a more formal living space like a game room or entertainment area, Twenty & Oak highly suggests using waterproof hardwood floors. Not only will it resist warping issues from excessive moisture, but it will make a beautiful flooring to conceal a concrete slab.

Have Peace of Mind with Waterproof Flooring  

Water and moisture can create lots of havoc on a home. If you have water-resistant floors to be able to quickly address spills, it’s at least a start. Even certain waterproof flooring options, such as vinyl, may prevent some accidents from becoming worse. And sure, they can even resemble various woods–but at the end of the day, they’re just not the real thing.  

Raintree Flooring | Nashville Scene, Hermitage

Raintree Flooring | Nasvhille Scene, Hermitage

If your environment causes concern for hardwood cupping and buckling, Twenty & Oak suggests installing advanced and amazing waterproof hardwoods such as Raintree. Not only does Raintree offer the absolute honest beauty of real hardwoods, but their durability can withstand high-traffic and moisture-prone areas like kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, mudrooms and even below-ground basements. 

As a homeowner, if you desire real hardwood floors but want the worry-free, effortless features of waterproof flooring, waterproof hardwoods are the perfect match. Invest in waterproof hardwoods to increase your home’s resale value and aesthetics. We promise you won’t be disappointed and will love them as long as your house is your home!

Contact Twenty & Oak or a trusted dealer today to see samples of gorgeous Raintree waterproof hardwoods. Interested in other flooring options? Take our flooring genius quiz today and find the perfect flooring for your lifestyle.

Twenty & Oak Flooring Experts 
Twenty & Oak Flooring Experts are a team of flooring professionals with over 150 years of combined experience in the industry. They have hands-on experience with all flooring types and bring inside industry know-how to homeowners in the Southeast. 

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