Of all the things that can damage your hardwood flooring, humidity is one of the sneakiest and biggest concerns. Humidity levels in the air change throughout the year, and each change brings new concerns. Understanding how those changing moisture levels in the air affect your floors can help you protect the flooring from damage. Here are two potential problems to watch out for with your new hardwood floors.
Humidity levels are usually pretty high in the summer months, which will cause the planks of your wood floor to absorb more moisture from the air. As the moisture in the boards increases, the wood will expand. There's only going to be just so much room between the boards, which limits the amount of space available for expansion. This often causes the center of the board to sink lower, into the subflooring. The final effect is called cupping, because the shape formed by the affected plank resembles a cup.
You can reduce the risk of this on your floors by keeping the moisture in the house at a minimum. Run a dehumidifier in every room during the summer months to combat the increased ambient humidity. In addition, if you spill any water on the floors, mop it up right away. Make sure you monitor your plumbing, too. Water seeping under the floor can be drawn into the wood as well.
Cracking and Separation
When the humidity levels drop, as they do in the winter months, the air will be much drier in the house. The significantly drier air can actually pull moisture from the wood. The reduced moisture levels will cause the wood to crack between the panels because the wood will contract.
This is a fairly normal occurrence for hardwood floors, but not one that's unavoidable. You can minimize its effect or potentially avoid it completely by placing a humidifier in each room of your home through the winter season. If you don't have humidifiers, you might be able to add some humidity to the air through your normal household activities.
Even something as simple as opening the dishwasher door after the rinse cycle will allow some humidity to seep into the air. You can turn off the exhaust fan in the bathroom when you shower, too. That way, when you open the door to the bathroom after your shower, you'll permit some humidity into the room. Finally, place a large pot of water on moderate heat on the stove. Bring it to a boil and let the water evaporate into the air. As a bonus, add things like lemon peels, orange peels or apple skins and cinnamon to make a natural air freshener, too.
Hardwood flooring is porous by nature, which is why it is susceptible to fluctuations in the humidity levels. With these tips, you can combat some of those changes and keep your hardwood floors in good condition for many years to come. For more tips, contact a company like Idaho Hardwood Flooring.