Hardwood flooring can add unmatched beauty and value to any home. However, without proper humidity control, wood floors are susceptible to damage from expansion, contraction, warping, and more. Maintaining the ideal humidity levels is crucial for preserving your investment in your new hardwood flooring.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine how humidity impacts wood floors, recommended humidity ranges, protection tips, and when refinishing or replacement may be needed. We’ll also highlight the top-rated flooring products and installation services from Milton Hardwood serving homeowners in Milton, Burlington, and Oakville.

How Humidity Impacts Hardwood Floors

As a natural material, hardwood flooring reacts to changes in humidity and moisture levels. Wood is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs and releases moisture until reaching equilibrium with the surrounding environment.

When interior humidity is higher, wood floors soak up the excess moisture from the air. This causes the planks to swell and expand in size. Conversely, in low humidity conditions, hardwood releases moisture into the dry air and shrinks. The planks contract and reduce in size as a result, leading to gaps in your beautiful flooring.

While some expansion and contraction is normal, excessive swelling and shrinking due to humidity fluctuations can cause extensive damage to wood flooring. The boards may cup, crown, buckle, gap, crack, splinter and more. The ideal humidity range allows for minor movement without compromising the floor’s structural integrity or aesthetic appearance.

Recommended Humidity Levels for Hardwood Floors

The optimal indoor humidity range for hardwood flooring is 35% to 55%. Wood should be acclimated and installed within this humidity range for maximum stability. After installation, homeowners should maintain this range of humidity year-round.

Certain steps are crucial for proper acclimation before installation:

  • Deliver and store wood flooring in an installation environment for 5–7 days.
  • Check that indoor humidity is 35% to 55% during acclimation.
  • Use humidifiers/dehumidifiers to achieve proper humidity.
  • Verify wood moisture content with a meter.

Keeping humidity within the 35% to 55% range helps prevent the following problems:

Low Humidity Effects (Below 35%)

  • Gapping between boards as the wood shrinks.
  • Splits and cracks along the plank grains.
  • Slivers sticking up, creating a tripping hazard.
  • Floor noise from boards moving against the subfloor.

High Humidity Effects (Above 55%)

  • Cupping as edges swell and curl up.
  • Crowning if wet for prolonged time periods.
  • Buckling as planks push up off subfloor.
  • Discoloration and finish dullness from moisture.

By maintaining the ideal humidity range, you can avoid severe impacts on your hardwood floors. Use the following tips to regulate moisture levels.

Protecting Hardwood Floors from Humidity

Here are proactive steps recommended by the flooring professionals at Milton Hardwood to safeguard your wood floors:

  • Install hygrometers to monitor humidity levels in your home.
  • Use humidifiers/dehumidifiers as needed to regulate the interior environment.
  • Choose low-moisture cleaning methods.
  • Immediately clean up spills and wet areas.
  • Allow proper acclimation before installation.
  • Run A/C and fans to remove humidity from the area.
  • Limit plants and aquariums, which often release moisture into the air.
  • Use rugs and furniture pads to reduce direct moisture exposure.

With diligent monitoring and quick action, you can maintain healthy humidity levels in your home and prevent moisture issues moving forward.

Refinishing and Replacing Damaged Hardwood Floors

If humidity fluctuations have already impacted your floors, don’t lose hope. Depending on the severity, the damage may be reversible.

For minor cupping and gapping, sanding and refinishing can restore the floor’s smooth appearance. This involves smoothing imperfections with coarse grit sandpaper, then progressing to finer grit for an even surface. Protective sealers and finishes are reapplied after sanding.

With extreme warping, buckling, and cracking, individual planks may need replacement. This involves cutting out the damaged sections, installing new flooring pieces, sanding, then finally refinishing for consistent appearance.

If negligence has allowed moisture to ruin the entire floor, full replacement may be required. In such cases, take preventative steps with the new wood flooring to avoid repeat issues.

For refinishing or replacement projects, trust the experts at Milton Hardwood Flooring. We deliver dust-free sanding and top-quality installations.

Milton Hardwood: Exceptional Flooring Services

With over 30 years of experience serving Milton, Burlington, Oakville, and surrounding areas, Milton Hardwood is the top choice for stunning, humidity-resistant hardwood floors.

Quality Brands and Materials

We only work with top hardwood brands and the best materials to create durable, high-performance wood flooring.

Precision Installations

Our trained installers monitor job site humidity conditions and ensure proper acclimatization before installation.

Moisture Protection Measures

We take every precaution to safeguard your investment, including moisture testing subfloors before installation.

Dust-Free Refinishing

Our dust containment systems allow refinishing of existing floors with no messy dust in your home.

Customized Options

From specialized stains to inlaid designs, we can create fully custom hardwood floors for your unique home.

Free In-Home Consultations

We’ll visit your home to assess your space, take measurements, and recommend perfect flooring options.

Milton Hardwood combines generations of expertise with the latest flooring technology and techniques to create wood floors that will stay beautiful for decades.


Humidity and moisture pose as one of the main threats to preserving the integrity of your hardwood flooring. By maintaining indoor humidity within the ideal 35-55% range, you can minimize expansion, contraction, warping, and other moisture damage. For new installations or updating existing floors, trust the professionals at Milton Hardwood Flooring.

We have the knowledge and resources to create stunning wood floors resistant to humidity issues.

Contact us today to get started with a free personalized consultation!