Hardwood floors and humidity

While many U.S. homeowners are dealing with a lack of humidity drying out their skin and hardwoods during the winter temperature plunges, Floridians have a different obstacle for much of the year. Our state is surrounded by water, and warm air naturally can hold more moisture than cold air can, so the humidity in Orlando rarely goes below 50% (with morning humidity often in the 80% and 90% range). While this can make for some uncomfortable days, it can also have an effect on your hardwoods if youre not careful.

Humidity and wood effects

Natural wood products are directly affected by humidity variations due to their hydrophilic nature. When humidity is low (below 30%) hardwood floors, and other wooden furniture within the home, will often dry out and contract, leading to cracking, gapping, and splitting. When humidity is high (above 55%) as it usually is in Florida, the opposite problem occurs moisture is absorbed into the wood, resulting in expansion. Wood floors in these conditions are known to warp or cup (when the edges are raised higher than the center).

Keep your hardwoods nice

Living in Florida shouldnt mean living without beautiful hardwoods, which is what many homeowners end up choosing to do. With just a little extra effort (which is required for hardwoods anywhere you live), you can keep your hardwoods in great shape:

Monitor your humidity If you dont already have a means for monitoring the humidity within your home, you can purchase a humidity monitor (or a couple of them for convenience) inexpensively. These tools quickly let you know the humidity percentage in any given area of your home, which will allow you to know if it is too high.

Run the air conditioner Air conditioners are helpful in removing moisture from the air while theyre running. The cold evaporator coil collects condensation from processed air, which is then sent away to a drain, leaving lower humidity and a cooler space. The air conditioner, however, must be the appropriate size to work properly within the space, and it will not be able to remove humidity 100% of the time.

Run a dehumidifier Dehumidifiers are a great solution for humidity control, removing moisture from the air; and often central dehumidifiers will work in conjunction with the air conditioner. Dehumidifiers work regardless of the temperature (unlike air conditioners) and are also available in portable models.

If you dream of having hardwoods installed in your Orlando area home, dont let humidity scare you away. Talk with your supplier about the specific floors youre considering to see their thoughts. With a little attention and the proper tools, your hardwoods will stay beautiful no matter where you are.

Guide to Cabinetry