How does Humidity Affect Hardwood?

Are you considering upgrading your floors to hardwood this year? If so, you need to understand how the environment affects wood and more about the concept of moisture control. Wood floors are naturally porous, so they take in moisture from the air. A new piece of freshly cut wood has a moisture content of between 30 to 250 percent but processing brings that number down to six to eight percent.

By the time the lumber becomes wood flooring, it has gone through treatments to help reduce the moisture, but it is still dependent on environment and proper installation. What can you do to help your hardwood floors last?

A Little About Humidity and Wood Flooring

High humidity can cause the wood to bend upwards and warp – a condition known as cupping. The wood may retract again in drier seasons but cupping allows moisture to get under the boards causing rot.

Different species of wood may pull in more moisture, so they are sensitive to humidity. Flooring installation matters as does the amount of space between the boards, storage and the cut.

A Little About Dry Air and Wood Flooring

An overly dry environment damages wood, as well. Healthy wood maintains a low moisture content percentage to remain supple. This is what allows the wood to adapt to different environments and seasons. Wood that is overly dry becomes brittle and may start to splinter and break apart. Dry boards shrink, as well, opening up the space between the boards.

How to Avoid Moisture Control Problems

An expert installer understands how the environment affects wood and ways to counteract it. The dealer will know how to acclimate the wood to the home, for example.

When shopping for wood flooring, get to know the installer by asking questions. Discuss the various types of wood available for your floor and the way humidity affects each style. Talk about steps the installer can take to minimize the risks and what you can do at home to prevent swelling and shrinkage.  

You can enjoy hardwood floors in your home regardless of humidity with a little forethought. Shop smart and pick an even smarter installer to enjoy the luxury of wood.