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Managing moisture levels when installing wood floors

When installing wood floors, one of the most crucial things to remember is moisture management. Timber naturally contains a lot of moisture, and this moisture continues to affect the wood from when it is first processed until it ends up being laid in your living room (kiln drying reduces moisture content, to a level suitable for flooring).

If you fail to manage moisture correctly, you could end up with a floor that has noticeable gaps, crowns and maybe even buckling and warping. In extreme cases, your floor could start to rot.

To properly manage moisture levels in your wood floor, you need to:

• Ensure the wood is moisture tested before installation. This should be done by the wood floor manufacturer using a moisture meter, to determine whether moisture in the wood is within an acceptable range.
• Give the wood plenty of time to acclimatise (solid floors). This means leaving the wood floor planks out of their packaging in the room where they are to be installed for at least a couple of days to 2 weeks. Before installing, use a moisture meter to check the levels again.
• Control the temperature in your home. You need to keep indoor relative humidity levels in your home between 35% and 60%, which means an indoor temperature of between 60 and 80 degrees. You should also ensure the property is adequately ventilated.
• Allow room for movement. Your wood floor will move over the years, but not so much that you’ll notice it (providing all the above has been adhered to). However, you need to leave an adequate expansion gap to give the floor some breathing room.

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