Hardwood & Humidity

Learn more about the effects humidity can have on your hardwood floor

What is the Best Humidity Level for Hardwood Floors? 

Wood responds to different humidity variations by contracting and expanding. This happens even when it is dried, cut and processed for wood flooring in homes or commercial places. At times, the expansion and contraction can be noticeable. Hardwood flooring expands when the air is warm and humid, and contracts when it is dry or with low levels of humidity. Therefore, it is common to notice different wood flooring changes from summer to winter. This can be uncomfortable for you as you may happen to notice gaps appearing on your floor in winter because of contraction, and floor boards warping in summer because of expansion. To avoid such occurrences, install humidity controls to regulate the humidity levels in your home.

Do Hardwood Floors Expand in Winter?

Wood is a hygroscopic material, meaning that it absorbs or loses moisture when exposed to air. When exposed to the air, wood will absorb or lose moisture until its moisture content (MC) is in equilibrium with that of the air around it. Absorption causes it to swell while moisture loss causes it to shrink. Swelling typically occurs when the moisture content in wood increases to around 25-30%, and above that percentage, wood becomes dimensionally unstable.

Why is my Hardwood Floor Cupping?

If your home humidity levels rise to above 55%, you are exposing your wood flooring to excess moisture. This will cause the floor boards to absorb the moisture, swell and create pressure between them leading to warping or cupping. When a board cups, its edges rise higher than the center, making a “cup” shape. It can take a long while before the wood restores its shape after cupping or warping. To prevent this, keep the indoor humidity levels in control especially during summer.  You can use a dehumidifier or turn up the air conditioner to keep humidity levels below 55%.

Humidity Levels Harwdood

If the humidity levels in your home drop below 35%, your hardwood flooring may be exposed to dry air which could result in its loss of moisture. Drying out of the floor boards causes them to splinter. They contract and result in gaps appearing between them. To avoid this, control your home humidity levels during the dry season, especially winter by installing a humidifier. A simple humidifier meter will help you keep the humidity levels in your home to at least 35%, and hence prevent the floor from gapping.

To learn more about hardwood, contact Warren's Carpet One Floor & Home today, or visit our showroom in Amherst, NY. We proudly serve Buffalo, NY.


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