Wood is a beautiful, natural material, and when used as flooring can totally transform your home, instantly adding value. If you are considering having hardwood flooring fitted in your home, or if you already have it, it is important to acknowledge and accept that this is a natural, living material, and may undergo certain environmental changes.
The boards that make up your hardwood floor will, over their lifetime, be subject to expansion and contraction, and this is perfectly natural. While there are some steps you can take to minimise this natural movement, there is no way to completely stop it from happening. The good news is that this movement will be very slight, and will most likely go unnoticed.
So what can cause this natural movement in your hardwood flooring?
The main cause of movement in hardwood floors is the amount of moisture in the surrounding environment. During summer months, when windows are open, and heating is turned off, the moisture and humidity levels in your home are likely to be higher, meaning your wooden floors may expand slightly.
Over winter, when central heating creates a drier environment within your home, your flooring is more likely to contract. If you do start to notice any movement or gaps appearing, don’t worry – when the humidity levels increase again, these gaps will reduce.
While there is no way to completely stop any natural movement in your hardwood flooring, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the amount of movement that occurs.
One of the most important things you can do to reduce movement in your floor is to try and allow for a stable humidity in the house, as changing humidity levels are one of the main causes of natural movement – the optimum temperature for both humans and wooden floors is 18°C to 20°C.
During warmer months when humidity levels are naturally higher, a simple way to prevent excessive movement is to open your windows each day, even if just for 10 – 15 minutes. Doing this will allow the humidity to disappear, with fresh air circulating your home.
During colder seasons, try to keep the humidity in your home between 50-65% to reduce movement. You can easily increase your humidity by placing a damp tea-towel on a radiator, or by using a humidifier.
While some small movement in your flooring is natural and unavoidable, by being careful and taking precautions, you can limit the amount of movement to a minimum, retaining the original beauty and appeal of your floor.