Humidity is a measure of moisture content in the atmosphere. Different geographical regions have different levels of moisture during various seasons of the year. As a wooden structure owner, you must be aware that wood reacts to changes in atmospheric humidity. Hardwood flooring, for example, is a natural wood product that will respond to different humidity variations. So, how does humidity affect wood floors?
Yes, humidity does affect wood floors. During warm and humid summers, wooden floors will expand during dry winter weather, wood flooring contracts. This expansion and contraction can result in the loss of structural integrity of the boards to cause cracking. The most viable way to reduce such movement is to install humidity controls and ensure they are functional before installing the flooring.
Hardwood is one of the best flooring materials on the market. It is not cheap to buy the materials and even install one; therefore, you need to put every measure in place to ensure that it is not directly affected by the changes in the atmosphere’s moisture levels.
What Is The Best Humidity Level for Hardwood Floors?
Humidity levels that fall anywhere between 30-50% are the best for hardwood floors. The average living conditions stand at 18-24 degrees Celsius (65-75 F) coupled with a relative humidity that ranges between 30-50%. The stated conditions are best for human health and, indeed, your hardwood flooring.
What Happens During High and Low Humid Weather
Low Humidity Levels
Usually, it becomes a problem to hardwood floors when the humidity level drops below 35% because this can make the wood dry out. Drying of wood translates to it becoming weak hence the floor splinters. Additionally, this can cause the floor to split along the grain. You will realize that the splitting of the floor has a ripple effect even on the finish such that it will also crack. In the end, the wood can start absorbing water through the cracks and because the protective finish cracked.
Here’s humidity miter that you can use to detect the humidity levels on your wood.
High Humidity Levels
Much as low humidity can affect your hardwood floor, too much of it also is not good. If the humidity goes above 55%, there’s every chance that moisture will seep into the wood. Too much moisture will result in swelling of the boards, which creates pressure between the boards, causing the board’s warping in the long run.
How To Prevent Hardwood Problems Due To Low Humidity/Dryness
We have seen that low humidity or dryness of hardwood floors can be a problem for your structure. To avoid possible complications that can result from this condition, you need to undertake the following measures:
- Ensure that you maintain a proper humidity level in your home. You can do that by using a humidifier during the cold months.
- Items such as wood stoves, fire pits for deck and electric heaters tend to create very dry conditions inside a room, if you have one such item functional, ensure that your humidifier is on.
- If your home is located in a snowy region, always ensure that you keep your house’s humidity in check.
How To Prevent Hardwood Problems Due to High Humidity
Too much moisture is also a problem to your hardwood floor and here’s how you can manage the situation:
- Ensure that you allow for free expansion space around your wooden floor’s perimeter when you install it. So that these spaces look good, you must cover them using baseboards.
- You must maintain proper humidity levels in your room using the air conditioner, dehumidifier or even the wood stoves
- If you happen to go away on an extended summer vacation, ensure that you leave the A/C working.
- Always clean your hardwood floor using a cloth lightly dampened with the right hardwood floor cleaning product.
- Ensure that you go for the best quality engineered hardwood floor that will fit with your desires.
How To Protect Your Hardwood Floor
Much as hardwood is a durable building material, it is still susceptible to different elements, such as impacts that can cause scratches and even splits. Therefore, you must protect your hard floor, and here are some of the measures that you can put in place to ensure that your floor is well protected.
Minimize All Potentially Damaging Traffic: Hardwood flooring does well to withstand regular traffic and a similar impact. However, some disproportionate impacts can be damaging to the surface. It could be kids playing, intentionally harming the floor, and jumping over the surface or objects falling on the surface.
So who is to blame if kids harm the floors? It should be adults because this can only mean that the kids have not been cautioned not to mess about with the floor.
Another way of protecting your floor is by keeping wheeled toys away from the house. When these toys go out, they come back with pebbles that can end up scratching the floor. You can also choose to employ no shoe in the house policy to help protect your floor.
Other ways in which you can damage the hardwood floor is by:
- Walking with high heels in the house
- Sliding furniture legs on the floor
- Sliding large objects such as boxes
Avoid Or Reduce The Rate At What You Clean Your Floor With Water: Water and wood are not the best friends. Since hardwood floors are organic products, their cells’ structure is sensitive to water, and it will react at any presence of water in it. Water would, therefore, lead to swelling and rotting. You may have used a wood stain and sealer to cover the surface but left the sides and bottom, which can be the weak point for water to get into your wood.
If you have to clean your deck, you should use a dry damp mop to wipe over the surface. However, as an experienced woodworker with a hardwood floor store, I don’t use water whatsoever to clean my wooden floor; instead, I use a soft-bristled broom and dustpan. Also, I carry out weekly cleaning with a vacuum cleaner.
So if you decide that liquid is the best way to clean your hardwood floor, ensure that the cleaner is only damp and not wet.
Clear Up All Pooled Water: I have overemphasized the need to avoid wet mopping the floor; however, it is not the only way that water gets on your hardwood floor. Sometimes there are leakages in the house; it could be dishwashers, water splashes from kitchen sinks, drink spills, and a lot more.
Whenever water or any form of liquid spills over your hardwood floor, ensure that you clean it right away to prevent the chances of these liquids leaking via the seams and between the floorboards.
Keep The Pets On Check: Dogs and cats are the usual domestic animals as much as we love them; they are not the best friends with the hardwood floors. TThe claws from these animals hurt hardwood floors the most, and you might not even realize it. The openings due to those scratches could lead to water leaking into the wood in case the stain on the surface of the wood is broken.
Here are some of the ways you can employ to protect your floor from dog and cat damage:
- If you love pets, ensure that you install hardwood flooring that ranks high on the Janka scale for hardness. Wood species such as the Brazilian Walnut (ipe), maple, and bamboo ( a type of grass) are great at standing up to pet claws.
- Layout pet beds, mats, and rugs in the resting area of the animals.
- Ensure that you clip the claws of your pets regularly so that their nails won’t damage the floor.
Keep The Floor Clean By Sweeping: Your floor needs to be clean all the time, and that should be a rule. You can go as far as imposing a no shoes in the house policy. When you allow people to get inside the house with their shoes on, you are indirectly allowing debris from outside that is trapped in the shoes inside your home. This debris could be little pieces of stones or even pieces of broken glass that, with time, can rub against your floor like sandpaper. In the end, you may start seeing scratches whose origin on your floor you can not explain.
Therefore, it is important that you clean your floor regularly so that you can eliminate all the abrasive dust that can dull your floor’s top layer.
Do Not over sand Your Flooring: Sanding your wood floor is one such way of revitalizing it, and there are many wood sanders in the market that you can use. However, this must not be a regular practice. The hard sanding, especially with a drum sander, does rips off the top coat of your wooden floor and can extend up to the wood itself.
Frequent drum sanding of your floor will eventually weaken the boards. You must never use a drum sander whatsoever when working with engineered wood flooring.
Lay Down Mats and Rugs On Your Hardwood Floor: Having mats and rugs on your hardwood floor must not be necessary to protect the surface against pets and other domestic animals. It is just a good practice to have mats on wooden floors.
I understand how beautiful wood looks on the floor, especially if you can cover it with a semi transparent stain that exposes its natural beauty. With rugs, you compromise the natural beauty of the wood and deprive yourself of the in-depth, luxurious luster look of the flooring. Despite all these, you still need rugs to help protect the floor from damages, especially areas that see so much traffic.
You need to lay down rugs in parts of the house that see so much foot traffic. In the kitchen, for example, you need to ensure that you lay down mats around the kitchen sink and the dishwasher so that you can protect the floor from water spills and further provide a good surface for standing while doing your cleaning duties.
Weather does change from time to time in different geographical locations around the globe. Some days are more humid, while others are less humid. Humidity levels affect so many materials, and in metals, for example, humidity can cause rusting. One question though, is…
Does Humidity Affect Wood Floors?
Yes, humidity affects the hardwood floor. When it is too humid, the wood contacts, and it expands when the air is dry. This expansion and contraction can result in cracking of wooden surfaces. Therefore, you must keep the humidity level in your house in check so that it is not too much or too little.
I hope you found this blog post helpful, and all your questions regarding humidity and hardwood flooring answered. In case you have a suggestion, question, or opinion, kindly share it with me in the comment section below!