With winter coming to an end there is one thing that always follows, humidity. Whether you have beautiful old hardwood, or you have recently splurged and installed hardwood in your home, you will want to protect it. When there is too much humidity in the air, because wood is naturally porous, it will absorb some of the moisture in the air which causes the wood to expand. Then, when the humidity goes down, the moisture escapes the wood. This can cause the wood to warp. There are things that you can do to avoid this and keep your hardwood floors looking like they were installed that same day.
Kitchens, Bathrooms, & Basements
While you may be moving into a home that already has hardwood in the kitchen, bathroom, or basement, these three areas that, if you are doing the renovations, should have tile or laminate. All of these areas, especially the bathroom, are prone to high humidity levels and large fluctuations in humidity. For this reason alone it is better to go with alternate flooring. Basements, bathrooms, and kitchens are also home to spills and flooding. It doesn’t take long for water to get into wood floors, and once it does, it can be impossible to get them back to their original condition.
45% – 55%
Wood floors need the humidity kept relatively constant, as what causes warping is huge changes in humidity levels. Most wood floors like to remain at 45% humidity to 55% humidity, and fluctuations between these points are considered safe. While hardwood floors can go below that level of humidity, and above it, the main thing is to keep it from bouncing around rapidly, and if you can, try to keep it in this magic zone.
Summer vs. Winter
In the summertime, your floors should appear just fine. They should not be bulging, and if they are, then you need to find a way to get some humidity out of your house. Though, this is not something that you need to worry about. In the wintertime, however, you may notice that there are some gaps between planks on your floor. This is also normal, and it is not unsafe. There is an acceptable gap between wooden floors; it just depends on what type of wood. Very large gaps, though, are not normal. If you have large gaps, cracked bits of wood, and bowing then you have humidity damage and need to get your hardwood fixed or replace it with another product.
Locking Humidity Out
Controlling the humidity in your home is the main way to keep your hardwood floors healthy. In the summer you will need to use air conditioning and monitor how high the humidity is climbing. You also should be careful about turning off your air conditioner when you leave the house if it is very humid outside. It may be a better idea just to turn it down instead. If you would rather, though, you can use a dehumidifier and a humidifier in the winter to keep things at the right humidity.