How Humidity Affects Hardwood Floors (And What You Can Do About It)

hardwood floor installation

It is a well known fact that wood responds to humidity by expanding and contracting, but did you know that hardwood flooring can react the same way even though it has been dried, cut, and processed? Seasonal changes are normal for hardwood, so as a homeowner, you need to be prepared with methods of controlling the humidity in your home to reduce or avoid damage to your floors.

If you live in a cold climate, you probably use an HVAC system to heat your home in the winter. This dries out the air, which cause the wood floor to lose moisture. As a result, the hardwood contacts, creating thin gaps between the planks.

What you can do: To avoid the separation between wood planks in your hardwood floor, install a humidifier or place a portable humidifier in the room. The optimal humidity level for your floor falls in between the 40% to 60% range. You can install a humidity meter to monitor and control the moisture levels in your home.

Indoor humidity can reach heights of 90% during hot, humid summers. This causes the wood to absorb moisture from the air, which then causes it to expand and cup. You know a wood board is cupping when its edges are raised above its center. When your hardwood floor absorbs too much moisture and expands significantly, the pressure between adjoining boards will jeopardize the floor’s structural integrity and the boards will crack.

What you can do: Keep indoor humidity levels below 65%. You can monitor and control humidity in your home by installing an air conditioner or dehumidifier during hot summer weather.

Data from the National Association of REALTORS revealed that 54% of home buyers are willing to pay more for a home with hardwood floor installation than one with other floor materials. Don’t compromise the health of one of your home’s most valuable assets. If you are having a hard time controlling the humidity levels in your home and are concerned for the wellbeing of your floors, contact a hardwood floor installation and maintenance specialist.