How Humidity Affects Your Hardwood Flooring
Protect your hardwood flooring against humidity and keep it looking brand new
There’s nothing as stunning as a brand new, shimmering hardwood floor. It nearly glows, fusing both warmth and light into every room – it’s magic. But there are forces at work that want to ruin that hardwood; enemies that will cup, crown and split that beautiful surface.
The Dangers of Humidity to Hardwood Flooring: Gapping, Cupping, and Crowning
Hardwood is a sensitive, natural product, and as such, it reacts to changes in the air’s moisture content. When the moisture content is higher, your flooring will soak up that vapour, causing it to swell and expand. When the humidity is low, the dry air pulls moisture from the flooring, causing hardwood to shrink.
While expansion and contraction is normal to an extent, too much change will become noticable and cause problems within the structure of your hardwood flooring.
The Ideal Humidity for Hardwood Flooring
The ideal humidity levels within your home should be between 35% to 55%. Hardwood should be stored, and installed at this humidity, and your home should be kept within this range to increase the lifespan and durability of your flooring.
Humidity levels lower than 35% can also cause problems like:
Gapping – The gaps between each plank grow as your flooring loses moisture and contracts, causing unsightly and uneven spacing between boards.
Splitting – Because the wood is drying out, it can become brittle and crack along the grain of the wood. This can cause splinters to stick out, creating a danger for passersby.
Humidity levels higher than 55% can cause problems like:
Cupping – Caused by planks swelling from excess moisture and pushing against one another. This curls the edges of the boards up.
Buckling – Too much moisture in your hardwood can cause the planks to swell and push against each other, causing your flooring to pull up from the sub-floor and buckle.
Crowning – Occurs when hardwood flooring is left wet for too long, or is sanded when cupping.
Some of these problems can be fixed by simply adjusting the humidity level in your home. However, extreme swings in humidity, or installation at levels outside the recommended percentage, can cause problems severe enough that your hardwood will need to be replaced. In order to avoid this, there are some crucial steps you can take in order to avoid replacement.
Protecting Your Hardwood Flooring Against Humidity
You can help protect your hardwood flooring from drastic changes in humidity with a bit of forethought, and a few proactive steps.
1. Clean Carefully
Choose a hardwood flooring cleaning kit, and keep the water usage minimal. Remember to always immediately clean up any water spills.
2. Install a Humidifier or a Dehumidifier
Regulating the humidity of your home is the best way to keep moisture content levels at an ideal level. Install a humidifier or a dehumidifier into your heating system, along with a humidistat or hygrometer. This will allow you to adjust the humidity level in your home just as you would use a thermostat. Keep the humidity in your home around 35%-55% humidity for optimal hardwood protection.
Your flooring is meant to last, to be that steady support for you and your loved ones to run, stomp, play on, and do life together for the many years you’re in your home. The last thing you want is for your beautiful flooring to heave, split, cup or crown, becoming a hazard and an eyesore, and ultimately, devaluing your home.
Call Advantage Hardwood in Calgary today to learn more about our refinishing process, or for a quote on your hardwood flooring.