Signature Floors in Salt Lake City UT Blog

Hardwood - The Hard Facts

Climate Change Inside Your Home
January 8, 2016

How regulating ambient humidity during the winter can help stabilize your hardwood floors.

It's that time of year again. The temperature drops, you kick up the forced air heat in your well insulated home and one day notice that gaps are appearing in your hardwood floor that were not there last summer.

I'm not going to throw a bunch of numbers or statistics out. I'm just going to tell you this: A dry environment causes moisture to evaporate from wood. When wood looses moisture, it becomes smaller in size and those pesky seasonal gaps may appear in your floor.

It is our job as a professional flooring contractor to educate our clients about indoor environment and hardwood flooring and to make sure that flooring has been acclimated properly to the environment in which it is being installed to minimize the potential for seasonal movement. We would never advise a client to install a 10” wide maple floor in this high desert region. That is an invitation for disaster. A stable material at a reasonable width that has been acclimated correctly should not gap severely during the winter if the ventilation in the home is correct and proper humidity is introduced.

If you are experiencing seasonal gaps in your hardwood floor, there are a couple of different ways to deal with this situation. You can live with the movement in the floor during the forced air heating months (as the gaps will close by themselves with the return of seasonal humidity) or you can invest in an on-furnace humidifier.

Achieving the correct humidity in the home during the winter is a little more involved than just slapping a humidification system on the furnace and flipping it on. During the deep winter months the humidification system may have to be maintained on a monthly basis. You should place hygrometers in key areas of the home to monitor the humidity. Too much humidity can cause condensation related issues and you don't want to trade one issue for another. Develop a relationship with your humidifier installer and follow his advice!

Happily co-existing with one of nature's finest products may require a little extra effort, but it's worth it. Additional benefits of correct humidification: you don't get sick as often, doors don't stick, cabinetry and trim work also stabilize and your piano will stay in tune!

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