In the winter it can get astonishingly cold, but it can also bring very low humidity levels. What does that mean to you though? Well, if you have hardwood floors it can mean a great deal. With those low humidity level can come gaps in the wood, splintering and can even cause the wood itself to dry out.
The number one rule to remember when dealing with hardwood: you should aim to keep the humidity levels in your home between 35% and 55%. Here's why.
Low Humidity Levels
If the humidity in your home drops below 35% it can cause problems. Lower levels can cause your hardwood to dry out which in turn may result in weakening the wood. This can cause the hardwood to splinter, splint along the grain of the wood, and cause gaps. It may also damage the finish of the wood which could be a big problem when its time to clean your floors, or even worse, make your floors uncomfortable to walk on.
High Humidity Levels
While low moisture levels can cause extensive damage, it's not the only thing to look out for. If the humidity levels go above 55% you're creating conditions for the moisture to seep into the wood. Too much of this and floorboards can start to swell. If this occurs, it can cause immense pressure on the boards and they will start to warp or cup.
Keeping Humidity at the Right Level
So how can you prevent damage? Check the humidity level in the rooms where you have hardwood installed. You can use a tool called a hydrometer. You can buy it online or in your local hardware store (see the link at the end for an online option). If the humidity levels are too high, above 55%, use a dehumidifier or turn on the air conditioning to bring the levels back into that 35% to 55% range. If they are too low, below 35%, use a humidifier to boost the moisture in the room.
Keeping an eye on the humidity levels will ensure that your floors are in good shape for years to come. As always, if you'd like to schedule a hardwood flooring project with us, feel free to contact us via our contact page. We look forward to working with you!
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