Wood is a beautiful material to incorporate into your home, especially when it comes in the form of a floor. It is a natural choice that fits practically every style. One thing you need to bear in mind is that the wood is going to react to the various changes in its environment. Even when it takes the form of a specially designed flooring, humidity levels are going to affect it. Despite the fact manufacturers have developed types that limit the reaction, it is up to you to ensure good humidity factor for the wood.
If you don’t ever consider humidity levels, you are going to experience quite a lot of trouble. Following are the ways that different humidity levels affect hardwood.
The dry season
In the winter, you will probably keep doors and windows shut, and heat up your home to maintain a warm environment. As a result, the air will dry up and cause the floor to lose a large part of its moisture. This, in turn, will cause some trouble to the floor, namely in the form of:
- Gapping – when humidity levels are lower, hardwood planks may shrink and create thin gaps between each other. These spaces between the planks vary greatly in width, with severe cases of gapping reaching half an inch. Now, although gaps are generally not a welcome sight, you must be prepared for them to appear at some point. The idea is that once humidity levels rise up, hardwood floor planks will expand, and the gaps will disappear.
- Checks and splits – if humidity is too low, the material becomes quite vulnerable to any kind of mechanical damage. Namely, it will likely splinter. You may have noticed cracks, checks and splits at the ends or the centre of the board, which essentially ruin the finish. This is a bad kind of damage because it is pretty much permanent and there is very little that can be done to fix it. Best be preventive and not allow it to happen in the first place.
To prevent dryness problems
Using a humidifier can help you maintain proper moisture levels in your home during the dry season. Use such a solution along with stoves and heaters, which tend to dry up the air. If you leave your home for a long time, ensure humidity levels are right.
The humid season
In the warm summer months, hardwood absorbs moisture from the air, which can result in expanding and swelling. As the boards expand, the pressure they create can cause them to cup, crack and warp. Here are the problems explained in greater detail:
- Cupping – when wooden planks cup, the edges rise up. This is common with higher humidity in the air than in the wooden material itself. It can occur not just because of high humidity, but also from humidity that migrates from lower levels. Dealing with the root cause is essential for preventing cupping.
- Crowning – this is a condition outlined by the middle of the board getting higher than the edges. It occurs when the surface encounters moisture.
- Cracking – if the wood expands too much due to moisture, the adjoining boards start pressing against each other. If the pressure is too extreme, the boards may crack.
- Buckling – an extreme case of expansion due to moisture, where the boards literally pull away from the subfloor.
Knowing more about the ways that humidity affects hardwood floor will allow you to monitor for these changes and take the necessary steps to fix the problem right away. By doing this, you ensure your hardwood floor lasts longer.