Hardwood floors are just like us!
When the weather cools down and the air gets cold and dry your floors will shrink and crack and gap unless you take steps to keep the moisture levels up. Just like you may have notices that your skin and lips start to dry and crack in the winter if you don’t start applying a bit more moisturizer.
So, let’s talk about those pesky floor gaps that pop up every fall and winter. You may not notice yet, but as the air dries so does your hardwood floors, and if you aren’t careful you’ll be noticing that tell tale draft coming up between your floor boards and freezing your little toes off in the winter months.
So, why are we talking about this now? Because now is when you have to pay attention to the airflow and the moisture content in your home to help your floors maintain their beauty and integrity once we do get to the really cold and really dry winter months.
If you’re in the middle of getting new hardwood floors, there are a few things to consider concerning the wood itself to prevent gapping or cracking in the winter.
Picking the right wood to minimize gapping and cracking in the winter
We’ve talked about how a wide board can give the illusion of making a small room bigger, but in terms of shrinkage once the moisture dries out a slimmer, more narrow board will shrink less than a wide board.
The type of wood that you use will also affect the way that the wood behaves with different moisture contents. Some wood types are more stable – like oak – and will shrink less with the changes in moisture. When you go to buy your new floors, do some research and talk to a hardwood floor installation expert who can give you the best advice on the type of flooring that is best for you.
But don’t let moisture content deter you from getting the exact hardwood floor that you want. As long as you know how your floors will react in changes in weather you can be proactive in trying to alleviate some of the natural changes that occur with the seasons.
Keeping the moisture content in your home consistent will help prevent shrinking and gapping in the cooler months
To protect your existing floors – and your delicate feet – there are ways you can keep the moisture content in your home consistent all year round preventing too much shrinking and gapping once winter rolls around. And you need to start thinking about this now, in the fall, because the change is starting to happen right now and you need to be prepared.
Luckily, the two ways you can help your floors are most likely things that you would be doing anyway, but it’s good to be aware. Since it’s colder outside you’re probably naturally cutting back on the AC and not airing out your home with every window open every day. This will prevent too much cold, dry air from breezing through your home and drying out your floors too quickly.
Along with reduced ventilation, closing up your windows and adding heat will allow all your daily moisturizing activities to build up moisture content in your home. And we’re not talking about lotion, here. We’re talking the steam from hot showers, boiling kettles, cooking and hanging your delicates up to dry indoors. All of these natural daily activities will help keep the moisture content even and consistent inside your home, preventing your floors from reacting too much to the changing seasons.
Of course, you don’t want to turn your home into a steam room, because that can have negative effects on your floors as well. But, we’ll save that topic for another day.