Wood flooring is a natural product that responds to its environment. Humidity will cause changes in your planks by expanding and contracting even though the wood has been dried, cut and milled into flooring. Sometimes these variations are drastic enough to be visible. During warm and humid summers wood expands, and during dry winter weather wood contracts. This seasonal movement is normal for wood flooring. The best way to reduce such movement is by installing engineered planks along with humidity controls. Ensuring that your humidity controls are installed and working before installation are critical.
Winter is a time when homes are heated and the air is dry, wood flooring gives up some of its moisture and contracts as a result. When this happens, thin gaps can appear between planks. This is normal, and you should be prepared for it to occur. Once indoor heating is turned off in the spring and humidity levels rise again, most of the gaps will close up. To avoid these separations:
Opt for engineered flooring: Although engineered planks will not completely eliminate the problem- it will drastically help. Woodwrights engineered planks are inherently more stable than traditional solid wood floors; the perpendicular pattern of the birch boards we use creates strength and resistance to shrinking.
Install a Humidifier: Try to control and monitor air humidity levels during the dry season by installing a humidifier in the furnace or bringing a movable humidifier into the room that has good air circulation. Optimal humidity level falls in 40-60% range. As long as humidity does not fall lower than 40%, no gaps at all will appear between the planks. Installing a simple humidity meter will allow you to monitor and control humidity levels in your home all year round.
During warm and humid summers when indoor humidity can rise up to 90%, the opposite occurs. Wood absorbs moisture from the air and expands as a result. Even just a few days of exposure to high humidity can cause wood flooring to cup. When a wooden board cups, its edges are higher than its center. Cupping can also happen when spilled the wood absorbs water. Once cupping has occurred, it takes a while for the wood to restore its internal moisture and flatten out. When extensive moisture or humidity causes the wood to expand significantly, adjoining boards start pressing against each other. In extreme cases, this increased pressure can cause the affected boards to lose their structural integrity and crack. To avoid cupping/cracking:
Again, choose engineered planks: Engineered wood is produced with three to five layers of our birch hardwood. Each layer is stacked in a cross-grain configuration and bonded together under heat and pressure. As a result, engineered wood flooring is less likely to be affected by changes in humidity and can be installed at all levels of the home.
Keep indoor humidity level controlled: In your home or job site (prior to hardwood installation) keep the humidity level within 40-60% range. Never allow indoor humidity to rise over 65%. Maintain optimal humidity levels by keeping air conditioner or dehumidifier running during hot humid summer weather.