This was another week with an interesting floor. The complaint was gaps between boards in a new house that was not yet occupied. The Brazilian cherry floors were in and finished. When I got to the house, I noticed all kinds of dust and debris on the floor, and a pattern that indicated wet-mopping. So I was pretty sure the floor had had water on it.

And the floor did not look good. In some places, the floor was tight with no gaps. In other places, there were non-uniform gaps between boards, some with filler. Here's a photo:

Brazilian cherry floor that appears to have nonuniform gaps.JPG

It is winter, so I was expecting some gaps. And the evidence of wet-mopping added a wrinkle. But these gaps looked unusual. They weren't uniform from one end of a board to the other. The joints went from tight to gapped, and sometimes back to tight along a single board.

Time for some on-my-knees work… First I had to clean all the dust and debris away. Then I measured board widths and group widths. Group widths were pretty consistent, but board widths were not. Then I couldn't get my taper gauge between the boards correctly to measure gaps. A little more dust removal and poking and prodding, and I was finally convinced (or maybe I realized) that there actually were no gaps between the boards.

So I backed up and looked at the joints with a magnifying glass. Well, lo and behold some edges of the boards were micro-beveled. It turns out that the flooring all started with micro-beveled edges, and the sanding process did not evenly remove the bevels. I didn't ask, nor was I told, why beveled-edge rather than square edged flooring was used. I just got to tell the homeowners that the solution was more sanding.

Craig DeWitt, PhD, PE, is president of RLC Engineering LLC in Clemson, S.C. Craig has a PhD in engineering and specializes in wood, moisture and indoor environments. He has provided inspection and consulting services for over 20 years.