Now that the winter season is upon us, the air outside and in your home is getting dryer. You will start to notice gaps appearing between the boards of your hardwood floors. Much like you and your family, hardwood flooring is most comfortable between the temperatures of 15o-25oC and at a relative humidity between 30-50%.
While the temperature remains relatively constant indoors throughout the year, your furnace is significantly more active in the winter months. This can rapidly dry out the air inside your home leaving the relative humidity under 20%. This lack of moisture causes your hardwood to gradually shrink and is responsible for gaps, board cracks and the snapping or squeaking sounds you hear when walking across the floor.
These are all normal characteristics of a hardwood floor during the heating season, but can be mitigated with the following steps:
1. Ensure you have a working humidifier that is turned on and set to an appropriate level. The National wood flooring recommends keeping the relative humidity in your home between 30%-50%
2. Measure the humidity independently with a Hygrometer. Just because you have the humidifier set at 30% doesn’t mean you are actually achieving that level of humidity in your home.
3. Hardwood changes are gradual – think in terms of seasons. The gaps did not appear in your hardwood overnight and therefore will take time to return to their original size.