Because it is a natural product, hardwood floors respond to temperatures and humidity levels in your home. For example, when the humidity level in your home is high, wood flooring expands. On the other hand, when humidity levels drop, the flooring in your residence will contract.
The reality is that this cycle of expanding and contracting can actually cause unnecessary and damaging wear and tear to your wood floors over time if the levels are extreme enough. There are tactics that you can and should consider employing to address the issue of rising and lowering humidity levels in your home as a means of prolonging the life and luster of your hardwood floors.
Install Humidity Controls Before Placing Hardwood Floors
If you are planning installing hardwood floors, you can be proactive when it comes to rising and lowering humidity levels. Before you have your hardwood floors installed in your residence, you can first have a humidity control system added to your home.
This type of system is the only real way in which you can garner continuous and reliable control over fluctuating humidity levels. Although there are some other strategies that can be employed to control humidity levels in your residence, an automated system is your best bet. Once it is programmed, it really does all the work for you.
Optimal humidity for wood floors is between 40 and 60 percent. If it deviates beyond this zone, hardwood flooring can be impacted in a negative manner.
Controlling Humidity in Wintertime
In the wintertime, particularly when the heater is on in the residence. humidity levels drop. When humidity levels drop, wood contracts. This can result in gaps between the planks of a hardwood floor.
If the home lacks a humidity control system, a portable humidifier can be placed in the room or rooms that hard hardwood flooring. In the alternative, in the absence of an installed humidity control system, a humidifier can be added to the furnace.
Controlling Humidity in Summertime
In the summertime, humidity levels can rise significantly inside a home. Humidity levels can rise as high as 90 percent in some instances based upon your home’s location.
High humidity results in an expansion of wood. It can result in planking, as has been discussed. If this persists, the wood planks that make up a wood floor can lose their integrity and become damaged permanently.
In the absence of a humidity control system, a homeowner should look at installing a dehumidifier to control rising humidity levels.
Dealing with Floor Cupping
Cupping is the ultimate problem you may experience with hardwood floors when you have humidity issues in your home. Cupping occurs when hardwood floors bows up, usually rather slightly, but noticeably.
In addition to humidity being a potential cause of cupping, it can also be caused by a plumbing leak, usually in the basement under the floor. In most cases, cupping corrects itself when the source of the moisture, a leak or humidity issue, is corrected.
If cupping is more than minimal, some additional work may be need to be done on the floor in order to restore it to a normal condition. It may need to be sanded and refinished. Keep in mind, however, that the floor must be completely dry before the restorative processes are commenced.
Domestic Versus Exotic Wood Flooring
A homeowner needs to keep in mind that some of the more exotic types of wood flooring is more susceptible to cupping and other problems associated with variable humidity levels. Domestic woods tend to be heartier and less susceptible to significant issues associated with humidity fluctuations.
Contact a Flooring Specialist
If you find yourself having problems controlling your interior environment in your home, do not hesitate to consult a specialist. You invested a good deal of money in your hardwood floors. You do not want your floors to suffer permanent damage because of an issue like humidity levels that truly can be regulated and controlled.
Your Health and Humidity
There is a major side benefit to getting humidity levels under control beyond taking care of your hardwood floors. A constant humidity level is believed to improve the health of residents in a home. This includes lowering the incidence of lung related issues and other maladies like the cold and flu.