The Impact Indoor Humidity Can Have on Wood

Wood - Porch Floor

Unlike other types of flooring, wood floors are natural. They respond to changes in the environment, such as fluctuating humidity levels. Homeowners may notice slight changes in the wood planks from the winter months to the summer. Here’s a look at the impact that changes in indoor humidity can exert on your wood floors:

Shrinking and Expanding

Wood naturally swells and shrinks in response to humidity levels. During the summer months, humidity will typically be high inside your home. This causes the wood planks to expand. Planks that are wider will generally have more noticeable movements than narrower planks. During the winter months, the air indoors tends to be much less humid because the heater is turned on. This causes wood planks to shrink. The planks will expand again once the indoor humidity is restored.

Cupping and Crowning

Sometimes, indoor humidity can cause cupping. Cupping occurs when the center of a wood flooring plank is lower than its edges. This is caused by a moisture imbalance—the moisture content is lower at the bottom of the plank than it is at the top. Crowning refers to the elevation of the center of the plank over its edges. Crowning is not necessarily caused by excessive humidity; however, it may occur when a cupped wood floor is sanded before the moisture content returns to normal.

Controlling Humidity

Most of the time, the natural expansion and contraction of your wood floors will not have any significant effect. However, it’s always best to take precautions to ensure the longevity of your floors. Control the humidity levels indoors by using a humidifier in the winter and a dehumidifier in the summer.

Installing a hardwood floor adds beauty and value to your home. Contact the experts at Southern Lumber at (888) 718-5450 to discuss your flooring options. Be sure to ask us about the different types of specialty woods we stock.

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