5 Common Hardwood Flooring Problems To Avoid

February 20, 2023, by: Jamie Sandford

In one of our previous Home Flooring Pros guides we discussed Flooring with the Highest Return on Investment. Unsurprisingly solid hardwood floors top the list of good flooring investments.

Nevertheless, solid wood flooring certainly isn’t your cheapest flooring option, so you should take some time to acquaint yourself with some of the common hardwood flooring problems that typically crop up both before and after purchase.

heels on light hardwood floor

Here’s what to look out for and consider:

Choosing Plank Width – It’s a fact that solid wooden floors contract and expand with the changing seasons. The wider the width of your plank the more pronounced the effects of swelling and shrinking during changes of temperature and humidity will be.

So if you’re a customer who prefers the aesthetics of wider wooden planks then just be aware that gapping (gaps appearing between planks) is a common characteristic of this type of flooring.

Dents and Dinks – What a customer hopes they are buying is the same floor that they saw in the catalog or showroom. Sometimes after a few months the reality can be somewhat different if they haven’t chosen their wood wisely.

As you will see in our hardwood flooring price report cheaper cabin grade wood may have lots of character but it is also much softer than other more expensive grades of wood. The same goes for cheaper types of wood like Pine.

If dents and dinks showing up on your wood flooring are going to disappoint then you should consider either raising your budget or taking a look at engineered hardwood floors and  high quality laminate floors.

Smears and Smudges – A similar issue arises when customers install solid hardwood flooring with a high gloss finish. If you’ve been seduced by photos of highly polished floors in glamorous upmarket homes and apartments just be aware that keeping a floor in this condition requires constant care and attention.

Just like a shiny new car, fresh out of the showroom, soon requires a wash, wax and clean your floors too will need lots of TLC to keep them smudge free.

Bad Floor Care and Maintenance – While on the topic of TLC, customers need to be aware of how to look after their wood floors correctly. Wet mopping a wooden floor or using a steam cleaner are both recipes for disaster.

Setting aside for one moment the actual damage you could do to your floors it is worth pointing out that wet mopping will only dull the finish of your floor. See our hardwood cleaning guide for more information.

Hardwood Oxidation – During the first year your hardwood floor will go through a period of oxidation and, typically, the more the floor is exposed to strong sunlight the darker the wood will become.

Problems sometimes arise if the room is in intense sunshine and then you decide to move an armchair or sofa only to find a lighter discolored area underneath.

Firstly don’t panic as over time the lighter area will also darken. Secondly, if you want to avoid the darkening of your wood, look to protect your floors from direct sunlight as far as possible.


  • Hardwood Flooring Talk Forum – a strong online community for both professionals and DIY’ers to discuss hardwood floors. Get your questions answered.
  • NWFA – The National Wood Flooring Association is a great site with plenty of great info on hardwood floors.
  • FlooringBlog.com – More information about hardwood floors and the oxidation process.

Have you experienced any of these problems or any others not mentioned? If so please share your experience using the comments section below. Or go ahead and contact us with your views so that we can continue to help others with their flooring installation.

About the Author:

Jamie Sandford

Jamie Sandford, Owner and Editor of Home Flooring ProsJamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction, followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business, he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.

“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”

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