Of all other features in a home, the one that likely stands out the most is a well-designed, installed and finished hardwood floor. The warmth and beauty of hardwood not only has immediate appeal but also adds to the overall value of the home. However, many homeowners are not aware of how humidity affects wood floors until they experience it first hand. For the purpose of this blog we will consider two common reasons gaps may occur and possible solutions.
What causes gaps in hardwood floors?
1. The nature of wood
Gaps occur because wood floors expand and contract with changes in the humidity of the home. When humidity is low, as in winter months, the boards may tend to shrink exposing gaps. When humidity is high as in summer months, the gaps tend to close.
Solution: Keep your home humidity level fairly constant.
A Government of Canada web-site recommends humidity levels “about 50% in summer and 30% in colder weather. If needed, use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to reduce humidity levels”. Following this advice will significantly reduce gapping.
2. Gaps Related to Installation
Shortly after installation, gaps or other deformities may begin appearing in the floor. This most often occurs because the moisture content of the floor was not allowed enough time to match the ambient temperature and humidity of the room.
Before the first board is laid, follow the manufacturer’s acclimating instructions. This allows the wood time to adjust to the humidity and temperature in the room before it is installed. Failure to follow this vital step has the potential to cause greater hardwood movement that may not be repairable.
3. Gaps Due to Material Flaws
It is almost impossible to find hardwood flooring where every board fit together perfectly.
The hardwood must fit tightly together when installed. If a gap appears, use another board that fits better. If the gap is minimal, fill the gap with a colored wood filler
Controlling humidity and temperature will ensure that your beautiful hardwood floor continues to be one of the most outstanding and appealing facets of your home for many years to come.
On our next blog we will consider the effects a vented crawl space or basement can have on a hardwood floor.