Hardwood & Humidity

What to know before installation

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How Moisture Affects Hardwood Flooring

Natural hardwood floors are beautiful, projecting an atmosphere of warmth and comfort, and remain one of the most popular of flooring choices. Wood flooring is durable and easy to maintain, and can literally last for centuries with proper care.

But one of the vulnerabilities of hardwood is that it is scientifically classed as being hygroscopic, which is a fancy way of saying it easily absorbs moisture from it’s environment. When wood is freshly cut, or green, it can have a very high moisture content, depending on the type and season of the year, which is why it doesn’t burn well in the fireplace.

But wood used for flooring and furniture undergoes a lengthy seasoning period, followed by thoroughly drying in a kiln, dropping the moisture content down to a fraction of what it was when green.

Best Humidity Level for Hardwood Floors

However, since wood is hygroscopic, if it is exposed to wet or humid conditions, it will re-absorb some moisture, and this can cause serious problems. Humidity causes wood to swell and expand, and in flooring this often leads to warping of the boards and cupping, where the edges become raised up. In extreme cases, moisture can lead to rotting and disintegration.

Conversely, when wood dries out again it shrinks, and this causes gaps between the planks. In environments where wood flooring is exposed to alternating humid and dry conditions, it can lead to all of the above, as well as cracking and squeaky boards.

Hardwood Floor Temperature Rang

Some shrinkage and swelling of hardwood flooring is inevitable, but with a few precautions, the harmful effects of humidity can be kept to a minimum.

  • Proper installation. Wood flooring can be installed using long-accepted practices that take into account the effects of humidity, and mitigate the worst of it.

  • Selecting a reliable contractor. It pays to choose an installation company with a good reputation, one that’s been in business for a while, with a proven track record of installing wood flooring, and many satisfied customers.

  • Location. Obviously, it’s not always good idea to install hardwood in areas where there’s likely to be high humidity or moisture, like in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens, although it can be done with the right precautions and protections. A dehumidifier is recommended  in moisture-prone areas.

  • Choosing wood carefully. Some species of wood are more susceptible to absorbing moisture. Consult with your flooring supplier about the best choice for your application.

To learn more about Hardwood & Humidity, contact Add's/JSS Carpet One today or visit our showroom in Bellflower, CA.