Your home changes throughout the year. With a fluctuation in temperature and the amount of air flow from season to season, your home adjusts as needed.
Hardwoods can expand and contract with seasonal changes in moisture which is noticeable in flooring or cabinets. Gaps and cracks within the hardwood floor boards occur in low-humidity. Since winter is heating season, it’s also shrinking season for the wood products in your home. Moisture absorption causes wood to swell. Moisture loss causes wood to shrink.
According to The Flooring Professionals, here’s how moisture can affect hardwood flooring:
CUPPING: As with cracks between boards, both cupping and crowning are natural reactions to moisture and should not be a concern if they occur only to a minor extent. More severe cases, however, indicate a serious moisture problem.
“Cupping” describes a condition in which the edges of a board are high and its center is lower. Humidity is usually the culprit, although cupping also can happen after water has been spilled onto the floor and absorbed into the wood. The moisture causes the wood to swell, crushing the boards together and deforming them at the edges. In order to repair the floor, the cause of the moisture must be identified. Most often, indoor humidity will have to be controlled. Other causes could include situations such as a plumbing leak in the basement, which can allow moisture to migrate up into the subfloor and flooring.
Once the cause of the moisture is controlled, cupping usually can be reversed. Oftentimes the floor Cupping may naturally dry out and improve over time. Fans may be necessary to speed the drying process. After the floor has dried, it may be necessary to recoat the floor with finish, or to sand and refinish the floor.
CROWNING: “Crowning” is the opposite of cupping: The middle of the board is higher than the edges of the board. This can occur when the surface of the floor encounters moisture. More often, it results when a floor has been sanded too soon after it has cupped. When this happens, the top edges of the board are sanded off, and thus are lower than the rest of the board when it returns to a normal moisture content.
BUCKLING: Buckling is one of the most extreme reactions to moisture that can occur with a hardwood floor. It happens when the floor literally pulls away from the subfloor, up to heights as high as several inches. Fortunately, buckling is an uncommon occurrence, usually happening only after a floor has been flooded. Even in such cases, it is possible that a floor can be repaired instead of being totally replaced.
To prevent gaps, the hardwoods are usually delivered to the home a week in advance so they can acclimate before installation and the moisture content can be similar to the levels in your home.
Ivan France, a project developer at Mountainwood Homes, advises homeowners to monitor this process.
“If your furnace doesn’t have a way to adjust the humidity level, you can add a humidifier to help keep things consistent. You can correct it by placing a humidifier on the heating system to regulate it so you don’t have severe swings from high to low. This happens in the winter when the house is sealed up tight and the furnace is on more often – it’s essentially drying out the air.”
“There needs to be a balance of fresh air exchange in and out of your home,” he says. “When the house is sealed up, cabinet doors can crack and warp, but if you put a humidifier in there to regulate the levels, it can correct itself. It can take several months, but it can go back to normal.”
Considering having new hardwood floors installed? You can rest assured that our team takes the necessary steps to prevent moisture problems.
Since we acclimate the wood and properly install the product, homeowners need to regulate and control indoor humidity levels in their home.
Here’s a helpful infographic from Central Heating & Air Conditioning that explains humidity: