We Call It Gap Season

We Call It Gap Season

Wintertime’s dry air means special precautions for hardwood floors

030Q.  I had solid Red Oak select installed throughout my first floor last summer. It was sanded and  finished with low-VOC waterborne polyurethane on site. It was absolutely perfect.

But now that winter is here, there are spaces between the boards. Is it possible that I was sold inferior wood?

A. Gaps between floor boards are common in the wintertime. Your installer should have told you that you have to control the humidity in your home to prevent inordinate gapping. In fact, most hardwood manufacturers recommend maintaining your indoor environment at 40 to 60 percent humidity year-round. But 36 to 50 is better if you want to prevent mold growth.

033Gaps from dryness are often more noticeable with sold hardwood flooring. Engineered hardwood flooring, which is put together in layers is more dimensionally stable and less susceptible to expansion and contraction with humidity changes.

To control humidity, you should have a humidifier attached to your HVAC system, and gradually turn up the setting in the wintertime. You can also be a hydrometer , a small meter you can hang on the wall, that will tell you the humidity level in your home.

In the meantime, don’t worry. Your floor is not ruined. The floor with expand and the gaps will close as soon has the humidity comes back to the proper level in your home.©

Nancy Kibbee is editor at naturalinteriors.com

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