Hardwood and Humidity in Beltsville, MD
Wood flooring brings the beauty and magic of nature into your home. It turns an ordinary space into extraordinary. But like many things from nature, hardwood can be susceptible to damage from its environment.
A little info about hardwood
Hardwood seems very solid, but it is more like a very hard sponge. It absorbs water from the air around it. This is well-known among the manufacturers and suppliers. And they even have a rating system for hardwood known as moisture content of MC, which ranges between 30-250%. This rating is determined by species, how recent it was cut, time of year it was cut among other factors. After the boards are dried in preparation for making the finished product of hardwood planks, the moisture drops to 6 to 8%. But it doesn't stay there as we will discuss.
Wood Flooring in high humidity
In a humid environment, hardwood will absorb moisture and expand. As it is expands, the space between the boards is narrowed. Where two boards come together, if the expansion continues, the board will begin to bow, as the ends of the boards raise up from the surface, resulting in what is referred to as cupping. If the air remains very humid then the boards can actually rot.
Hardwood In low humidity
After reading about high humidity, you may think dry air is a better alternative. But remember, that a 6-8% moisture content is ideal. Without moisture, hardwood will become brittle, lose its supple appearance, creak and shift. And the spaces between boards will grow larger. Because the wood is so dry, it can even crack.
How to keep hardwood looking great
But don't be afraid of hardwood. It's beautiful and can stay that way if proper care is taken. First, be aware of the way humidity can affect your floors. Regardless of what you do, you will see some shrinkage and expansion over time because the amount of water in the air changes. Taking proper steps before installation can help assure that this expansion or shrinkage does not become cupped wood or gaps into which dust and other items gather.
Proper installation - Never allow someone to install hardwood the same day the wood is delivered. If the wood just arrived from a dryer state -- or a dry warehouse -- and you live in a more humid area, the wood will expand significantly. You should allow wood to sit in your home until it reaches an equilibrium with the air around it.
Hiring the right people - Experienced professionals will understand the relationship between humidity and wood flooring. They will know when the balance is right to avoid expansion and shrinkage to the point of damaging the floor.
Maintain proper air conditioning - Dehumidifiers and humidifiers may be required if humidity shifts dramatically. But keeping a central air conditioning system running most of the day does a lot. Purchasing a barometer to see humidity levels is a smart idea. But there is no ideal humidity. It's more about the norm in your area.
Pick the right hardwood - Some woods will be more suited for your area, so discuss with a professional before choosing wood.
Keep the humidity stable and your hardwood floors will stay beautiful as they should.