effects of humidity on hardwood from Carpet One

Hardwood and Humidity in Napa, CA

Hardwood is beautiful and one of the most widely used forms of flooring available. However, it's not without its flaws. In fact, wood flooring has some very specific requirements you must follow if you want to preserve it and have it maintain its functionality and beauty for as long as possible.

Wood Flooring and Too Much Humidity

Hardwood and water just don't mix and neither does hardwood flooring and too much humidity. When wood absorbs too much moisture it swells, which causes the wood planks to get bigger and eventually warp. This is called cupping, which is when the edges of the boards become raised. And, if the humidity is consistently too high, it could, in some cases, cause your floors to rot.

Wood Flooring and Not Enough Humidity

Just as we mentioned above, when too much humidity is present around wood flooring it swells. Therefore, you might think that keeping your rooms free of moisture might be the solution, but it's not. Too little moisture can have just as many dire effects on your floors as moisture but in a different way.

During the winter is usually when your floors are most vulnerable to dry air. The indoor winter environment can become so dry that your hardwood flooring will dry out. This will cause it to shrink. That's when you will begin to notice gaps between the boards. You might also notice that your floors begin to squeak more and perhaps you might even notice some surface cracking. Neither of which is good for your floors.

Wood Flooring and the Perfect Environment

The shrinkage of wood begins at 25-30 percent moisture content. Swelling will occur beginning at zero percent up to 25-30 percent moisture content. Anything above 30-35 percent is when your wood flooring is the most dimensionally stable. However, wood does not shrink or swell evenly in all directions. That means it could shrink and swell from one  board to another.  

The recommendations set out by most wood flooring manufacturers are as follows. Your indoor humidity levels should be somewhere between 50-70 percent and the air temperature should be set somewhere between 65-75° Fahrenheit.

The Bottom Line

Caring for your wood flooring doesn't have to be hard; however, you will need to understand how the environment can affect hardwood in general and what you will need to do to proactively prevent any damage from occurring.