The mere sight of a hardwood floor evokes a sense of warmth and elegance, enchanting any space with its timeless charm.

However, beneath this alluring exterior lies hidden vulnerabilities: hardwood floors have their downsides, and one of the most significant concerns is their susceptibility to inadequate humidity in your home.

Indeed, while hardwood floors are undeniably captivating, it’s crucial to be aware of this Achilles heel.

Too-high or too-low levels of moisture content in the air can wreak havoc on these beautiful surfaces, causing warping, buckling, and even unsightly gaps between the wooden planks.

But fear not! Understanding the optimal level of humidity conditions for hardwood floors is the key to unlocking their full potential and safeguarding them from unnecessary damage.

By grasping the science behind moisture control and learning effective maintenance practices, we can create a nurturing environment that preserves their allure and exquisite beauty. So,

What Is The Best Humidity Level For Your Hardwood Floors?

The best humidity level for hardwood floors falls within the range of 35% to 55%. This is the recommended optimal humidity range for wood floor preservation, and it is essential to maintain their beauty and longevity.

Interestingly enough, this range is slightly above the recommended level for optimal human comfort, which is anywhere from 30% to 50%.

The disparity between the optimal humidity levels for human comfort and hardwood floor preservation lies in the distinct characteristics of wood as a hygroscopic material.

Remember that wood is porous, far more porous than human skin, and it absorbs moisture from the air with relative ease. Therefore, it is crucial to strike a balance that prioritizes both human comfort and the long-term health of hardwood floors.

To maintain this ideal humidity level for your hardwood floors, consider using a humidifier during dry seasons to add moisture to the air, and a dehumidifier during humid periods to reduce moisture levels.

Additionally, using a hygrometer, a device that measures humidity, can help you monitor the levels and take appropriate actions to keep your floors looking in excellent condition.

As we consider the best levels of humidity for hardwood floors, let’s delve into exactly how changes in humidity can significantly affect your hardwood floors.

How Does Humidity Affect Hardwood Floors?

How Does Humidity Affect Hardwood Floors?

As mentioned earlier, hardwood floors have a surprisingly hygroscopic nature, meaning they can absorb moisture from the air at a rapid rate, reacting to unseen humidity in your environment.

As long as you keep humidity levels within the recommended range of 35% to 55%, your hardwood floors will be fine. However, if temperature and humidity levels veer towards either extreme of this range you might find yourself in a predicament.

When the humidity is too high, the hardwood floors can absorb too much moisture, which can cause the following:

  1. Cupping: Cupping occurs when hardwood flooring absorbs moisture from the air, causing the boards to swell and press against each other. As a result, the edges of the boards rise higher than the center, creating a noticeable “cup” shape. Even if the moisture level in the wood is reduced later on, the edges may recede, but the cupped appearance will persist.
  2. Crowning: Crowning is the opposite of cupping, where the center of the hardwood plank rises higher than its edges. This phenomenon can occur when floors that were previously cupped are sanded down or when the floors have been exposed to high humidity for extended periods.
  3. Buckling: Buckling resembles cupping, but it is a much more severe issue. When buckling takes place, the hardwood floor detaches from the subfloor and forms noticeable buckles or waves. Buckling demands more extensive repairs, and in some cases, the entire floor may need to be redone to restore its integrity.

On the other hand, with low humidity, the following can happen to your hardwood floors:

  1. Splitting: Splitting occurs when hardwood floors experience insufficient moisture, causing the wood to dry out and develop cracks or splinters along the grain of the wood. Unfortunately, this type of damage is irreversible, as even though planks may swell with increased moisture, the splits will remain noticeable.
  2. Gapping: Gapping occurs when the hardwood planks shrink away from each other, resulting in highly visible gaps between them. Unlike splitting, gapping is less problematic because the planks tend to expand again when you have the appropriate amount of moisture in the air

Preventing moisture-related damage is crucial for hardwood floors, as repairing its effects can be both costly and surprisingly challenging.

How To Protect Your Hardwood Floors From High Humidity

How To Protect Your Hardwood Floors From High Humidity

Few things are as disheartening as investing a substantial sum in exquisite hardwood flooring, only to witness its deterioration within a few months due to improper humidity control. Here is how you can best protect your hardwood floors from humidity-related damage:

Install A Humidifier Or Dehumidifier

Depending on your location and climate, you may find it beneficial to have either a humidifier, a dehumidifier, or even both.

Remember that a humidifier adds moisture to the dry air when humidity levels drop, while you can use a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air when humidity is too high.

Both of these devices are widely available in various sizes and configurations, and you can choose between standalone units or integrated ones that work alongside your HVAC system.

You should also consider investing in a hygrometer, to more closely monitor fluctuations in environmental humidity levels. Minor adjustments might be necessary during different seasons, but overall, you’ll enjoy the benefits of balanced indoor humidity throughout the year.

Apply A Water-Resistant Top Coat

Applying a water-resistant top coat to hardwood floors is highly beneficial for safeguarding against humidity-related damage.

The top coat creates a protective barrier, preventing moisture from seeping into the wood and reducing the risk of warping, swelling, and cupping. It enhances durability, eases maintenance, and provides a cost-effective solution to the most common humidity-related hardwood floor damage.

While using a humidifier or dehumidifier may help regulate your home’s humidity, it’s not enough to protect your floors entirely, making the water-resistant topcoat an essential measure to preserve the hardwood’s integrity and appearance.

Monitor With A Humidistat

If you are lucky enough to own a humidistat or hydrometer, you can measure the humidity levels and check the humidity changes within your home. If you do not already have one, get one! They are inexpensive and can be easily found online. Keeping the proper humidity levels in your home has many more benefits beyond keeping your floors in good shape.

A Little Care Goes A Long Way

Maintaining the beauty and integrity of your hardwood floors requires attention to the humidity levels in your home and a proper care routine.

  • Use pH-balanced, hardwood floor-specific cleaners, promptly clean up spills, and opt for microfiber mops to avoid scratching the surface.
  • Control indoor humidity with humidifiers and dehumidifiers, ensure good ventilation, and use area rugs or mats to trap dirt and moisture.
  • Implement a regular cleaning routine, attach protective pads to furniture legs, and strive for a relative humidity level between 35% and 55%.

These simple yet essential steps will preserve your hardwood floors’ luster, and prevent warping or damage, keeping them a stunning feature in your home for years to come.