effects of humidity on hardwood from Carpet One

Hardwood and Humidity in Batavia, NY

Nothing compares to the warmth and energy of genuine hardwood floors. They're versatile enough to shine in the most traditional, formal spaces and in the most sleek contemporary ones as well, and they can be found in millions of homes, restaurants, hotels, boutique clothiers, and countless other venues. But keeping wood floors safe from moisture damage can be tricky. The moisture content of the boards causes wood to swell and contract depending on the weather and season, which can cause unsightly gaps, bulges, and warps. 

Why Humidity Causes Damage

When freshly cut, wooden boards have a moisture content (MC) of anywhere from 30% to 250%. After boards are cut, they're fired in a kiln to evaporate the moisture, resulting in a hard, dry board with a MC of only 6-8%. The resulting board is (hopefully) stable enough to use to frame homes, build furniture, craft custom cabinets, or to create wood flooring. The problem occurs when floors are not installed or sealed correctly, or when an unusually humid environment causes the wood to swell more than expected. The result? Boards that curl up at the edges, creating an uneven surface. 

Why Dry Climates Can Cause Damage

Extremely humid environments make wood floors harder to care for--but very dry climates can cause issues, as well. If boards are too dry, they'll lose their suppleness and glow, becoming more prone to cracking and shrinking up. This can cause gaps between the floorboards over time. It can also cause boards to become more brittle, breaking and cracking more easily, and squeaking when you walk on them. 

How To Give Your Wood Floors The Best Shot at a Long Life 

Professional installation makes all the difference in a wood floor that retains its beauty for years and one that has issues just months after it was installed. 

  • Acclimate boards to your home. Before installation, allowing floor boards to sit in your home for a period of time will help them acclimate to your home's usual humidity levels. This way, boards will be installed with their new normal of swelling and shrinking already in account. 
  • Check your installers' references. Hiring professionals with a tried-and-true track record of hardwood floor installation will make a huge difference in your floor's longevity. True experts are able to install floors allowing just the right amount of "give" between boards so normal humidity changes won't cause major problems. 
  • Choose your flooring wisely. Some hardwoods are more stable than others. If you live in an extremely humid or very dry climate, it might be smart to spend a little extra on higher-quality, more stable hardwood floors.