Here at Metro Atl. Floors, we are emphatic lovers of hardwood flooring. Hardwood is easy to clean, looks beautiful and classy, and brings a warm inviting mood to a room. However, there are some important considerations that need to be taken into account before installing hardwood.
Wood is naturally hygroscopic in character (absorbs moisture from surrounding environment). That is to say, it moves (expands or shrinks) depending on its moisture content (MC), which changes with variations in the relative humidity of its environment. This is an important concept to understand when installing hardwood floors in your home, especially if you live in a climate with seasonal extremes in temperature and humidity.
Relative humidity is defined as the ratio of how much moisture is in the air compared with how much it can hold. The rule of thumb is the higher the temperature of air is, the higher capacity of moisture it can hold. Air temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity of 40-60 percent is the optimal climate range for hardwood flooring.
The type of wood you choose for your hardwood floors is important. The extent of which the floor is affected by humidity depends on the board width and wood species. Generally, engineered woods tend to be more stable in their moisture content and thus less affected by humidity level. Still, this doesn’t mean you are safe to make your living room a steam room. Here is a handy wood shrinkage calculator to find out which wood species is right for you.
Installing hardwood floors is a complicated undertaking even for the professionals so a DIY hardwood-flooring project is not recommended. Installing hardwood flooring is best left to the professionals as it takes time, precision and know-how to get the job done correctly. Hardwood floors will not warranty if installed in bathrooms or basements so you should not install hardwood flooring in these areas.
Installing the hardwood should be the last item on the job list for a remodel or construction project so that the indoor climate is the same as it will be when the flooring is installed. Before it is installed, hardwood has to acclimate to its normal interior climate for 5 to 7 days with the cartons open and raised off the ground. If this crucial step is missed, you will find your hardwood floor cupping or crowning and your floors wont be level. Before hardwood floor is installed make sure the subsurface area is clean and check for moisture.
A quality hardwood floor installer will do their due diligence to make sure the hardwood floor installation is successful by checking relative humidity levels, before and after install, as well as the moisture content of the wood. Still, as aforementioned, the changes in temperature and relative humidity in your room can make your floor cup (edges of board higher than center) or crown (center of boards higher than edges).
To protect your investment, it’s recommended that you have air conditioning as well as a humidifier or dehumidifier depending on the climate you live in. Installing a dual digital temperature/moisture meter to monitor indoor climate conditions year round is a smart decision. If you are interested in hearing more about how to best protect your hardwood floors against humidity post your comment below or give us a call at the number listed a the top of the page.