Hardwood and Humidity in North Bay, ON
Hardwood floors project a feeling of warmth, comfort, and natural beauty, which is why they remain among the most popular flooring choices. Wood flooring is extremely durable and very easy to maintain, and can last almost forever with a little care.
But hardwoods have the property of being hygroscopic, scientifically speaking, which simply means that it is prone to absorbing moisture from the atmosphere. When freshly cut, wood has a relatively high moisture content, depending on the species and the season it’s harvested, which is why green wood is a poor choice for the campfire.
But hardwood used for furniture and flooring is stored and seasoned for many months or even years after cutting, then it undergoes a lengthy drying process in a kiln, leaving only a small amount of moisture.
Humidity And Hardwood
However, being hygroscopic, if it’s exposed to humid or wet conditions, it will absorb moisture, causing it to swell and expand. With wood flooring, this can cause warping of the planks and cupping, where the board edges rise above the middle. Extreme moisture exposure can cause rotting. Dry conditions will cause the wood to shrink, leaving gaps.
Moisture Damage Prevention
Some moisture absorption, and the swelling and shrinkage that comes with it, is inevitable, but a few precautions and some careful consideration can largely mitigate the harmful effects.
- Correct installation. With a proper installation, the effects of humidity are taken into account and allowed for, making it the best precaution against moisture damage. .
- Select a qualified professional. Proper installation can usually be ensured by choosing a contractor that’s been in business for a long time, has a good reputation, and has proven experience specifically with installing wood flooring.
- Avoid high-risk environments. Installing wood flooring in high-humidity areas like kitchens, bathrooms, and basements increases the risk of problems, though it can be done with the right protections.
- Choose flooring carefully. Some types of wood are more prone to absorbing moisture than others. Ask your flooring expert about the best type for your situation.