If you have solid or engineered hardwood floors, you should aim to keep the temperature in your home between 60 degrees and 80 degrees and the humidity in your home between 35 and 55 %. Wood floors expand and contract, and depending on the temperature and humidity of your home environment your floors may react dramatically if those humidity and temperature changes are also dramatic. Your wood floors and furniture will absorb and release the moisture in your home. As your home humidity changes so does the condition of your hardwood floor. Any extreme temperature or humidity changes will be reflected in your floors.
Humidity levels above 55% can cause the wood in your home to swell, creating pressure between the boards, causing warping and cupping. If you live in an area of high humidity, you should be especially proactive and aware of the effects humidity can have on your floors. Your floors were initially provided ample room for the acceptable and expected amount of expanding that will occur in normal conditions. But if you have abnormal conditions, like leaving your home for long periods of time without the air conditioner on or not tracking your home’s humidity at all, your floors could expand beyond the amount that is provided.
Low humidity, which is a bigger problem during the colder months, can also cause problems to your hardwood floors. Too little moisture is just as bad as too much moisture. If humidity levels drop below 35%, you run the risk of your wood floors drying out and the wood weakening, causing splintering. This can also damage your finish. If your skin feels dry, chances are your floors do also.
Things to Remember
- Consider using humidifiers and/or dehumidifiers. Whole house humidifiers are also available.
- Keep the temperature and humidity constant. In other words, if you are planning a trip away from home for a few weeks, make sure to maintain the air and humidity at a proper level for your floors.
- Purchase a humidistat or hydrometer from a hardware store or home center. This will give you the ability to monitor the humidity in your home and make changes as necessary to protect your floor investment and protect your warranty.
- Never use a steam cleaner/sweeper on your hardwood floor.