Spring and summer humidity can damage your wood floors. Any wood flooring product, be it natural hardwood flooring, engineered wood flooring, or laminate, can warp with too much moisture, and “check” with too little moisture.
Wood is a living organism, and water in the form of humidity causes it to expand and contract. And excessive moisture can cause wood to rot, which can be worse than termites if the rot has gone on for too long.
Natural wood, engineered wood, and even wood laminate flooring need to be acclimated to the environment before being laid. The amount of time these products need for acclimation vary. Wood laminate needs a couple of days, while real wood needs a couple of weeks. Then once real wood flooring is laid, it needs another three or four days to get use to its environment before being stained and sealed with polyurethane. Wood flooring should be kept between 35% and 55% humidity at all times. This is why it should not be used in high moisture areas like bathrooms.
Humidity takes many forms; one is condensation. Moisture caused by condensation can seep into floors over time causing them to expand or buckle. Buckling can take the form of cupping or crowning. Cupping is caused when there is more moisture in the middle of the board than on either side. Cupping can happen after installation, and can be the result of a lack of acclimation. Crowning, which is when the center of the wood board is higher than the edges, happens when there had been seepage into the wood over time, like when there is a slow leak. Or if there is a flooding disaster caused by a broken pipe or overflowing tub.
When a wood floor dries out, it may separate from the piece next to it causing the floor to have gaps. Wood floors that have spent years under the constant drying of summer’s heat will eventually splinter and peel.
Also, all wood flooring absorbs or loses moisture as conditions change inside your home, causing shrinking and expansion. The use of humidifiers and dehumidifiers can help to ensure that your floor is kept at the optimum moisture level.
The best advice about how to take care of your wood floors is to treat them like any investment. Be sure to follow all manufacturers’ care instructions to keep them clean and protected. If you nurture your floors, they will last for years to come.