Many homeowners notice, especially during the winter, that their hardwood floor will start to develop small gaps between the boards. If your home is old, this is to be expected, but what if your wood floor is relatively new and very well cared for? Why are you seeing these gaps? And is there is anything you can do? We’ll answer those questions in this article.
Why Hardwood Gaps in the Winter
Even when wood is no longer on a living tree, it is still a totally organic material. This means that it reacts to things, the same way that a living creature might react to things. Wood absorbs water when the air is more humid in the summer, and that can lead to the material expanding a bit. So when the drier air of winter rolls around, and your heating is drawing all the moisture out of the air, the wood will lose all that moisture it soaked up, and it will shrink. It is this natural process that causes the gapping you are seeing.
In some homes, this may be imperceptible. Typically, a well-installed floor won’t reveal visible cracks. However, if you live in an area where temperature changes drastically between seasons, or if the air is naturally very dry year-round, you may see visible gaps over time. Now let’s talk about the two things you can do to prevent or fix this problem.
Keep The Outside Out
The first thing you can do to help prevent gaps in your wood floor is to reduce the ways that the outdoor temperature and humidity can get inside. Seal up cracks, replace older windows, and get into the habit of keeping doors closed. When air from the outdoors is introduced to the atmosphere of your home without going through your ventilation system, it isn’t the same humidity level as the rest of your home. This means that a new fluctuation in humidity is being introduced to the flooring, which as we know, causes gaps.
Add Moisture to the Air Indoors
The next thing you can do to help protect your wood floors is to add moisture back into the air during the winter. It is generally a good idea to keep the humidity inside around 35% to 55% – however, with a heater of any sort running, it is hard to maintain that percentage. Using a humidifier, or even boiling a pot of water and allowing the steam to evaporate into the atmosphere of a room, can help put moisture back into the air. You can also have a residential humidifying system installed if this is a serious problem for the structure of your home.
These two tips can help you protect your wood floors from gapping, or stop them from gapping even worse. But if you’ve noticed severe damage to your wood floors due to this problem, contact the experts at Ottawa Diamond Flooring for repair by calling 613-274-3535.