How Humidity Affects Hardwood Floors

Keeping hardwood floors in good condition requires proper care and maintenance. You’ll need to provide the right temperature and humidity control to prevent cracking, cupping and gapping of hardwood floors.

Hardwood floors are natural products and react to changes in humidity level and moisture. They expand and contract showing noticeable changes on the floors.

Let’s look into this in more detail.

Effects of Humidity on Hardwood

When the humidity level drops below 35%, the moisture content in hardwood dries out, making it weak. It is common in areas with colder climates because cold air can’t hold water vapour. It can cause splinters and damage the finish, resulting in the floor splitting along the grain. Visible gaps between the boards are also a common scene because of low humidity.

If too low a humidity level creates problems, then too high humidity makes it worst. A rise in humidity levels (above 55%) allows moisture to seep into the wood, causing the hardwood boards to swell. This creates pressure on the boards leading to cupping or warping.

The effects of extreme humidity are not limited to floors. It can cause many health problems. Low humidity increases the risk of catching a cold and high humidity provides a breeding ground for rot, mold, and insects such as cockroaches and termites.

What to Do?

Controlling the moisture in the air is the best solution to keep your hardwood floors from expanding and contracting. Here’s how to do it.

  • Install humidity control devices such as whole-house humidifiers, air conditioners and furnaces in your home and get them checked annually. These small investments can save thousands of dollars spent on repairs and replacement of your hardwood floors.
  • During the summer, lower the humidity level by using your air conditioners or dehumidifiers. During the winter, remove excess dryness from the air by keeping your humidifier at proper levels.
  • Check the relative moisture level of indoor air and subfloor before installing hardwood floors.
  • Keep the relative humidity level at 40% to 50% inside your home throughout the year.
  • Avoid installing hardwood floors in rooms with higher humidity levels such as laundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.
  • Install exhaust fans in rooms where humidity is too high.

Installing hardwood floors is not enough. You need to provide the proper environment to keep it in tip-top condition. By maintaining the humidity levels in your home, you can prevent your hardwood floors from shrinking and cupping, ensuring their longevity. Proper moisture control can improve your hardwood’s performance and help you maintain a healthy environment at home.

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