Hardwood & Humidity

Learn how to protect your hardwood floors from water and humidity

What is the Best Humidity Level for Hardwood Floors?

People love their hardwood floors, and with good reason.  A hardwood floor can come in different kinds of wood, different shades of stain, and different widths of planks that all look beautiful.  Hardwood floors aren’t really thought of as high maintenance, i.e., no carpet shampooers need to be rented or lugged around, and when desired, rooms can have throw rugs and area rugs to them look and feel different.  There are however things homeowners should think about prior to purchasing hardwood floors, or to improve continued maintenance of these floors already installed in their homes.

Why is my Hardwood Floor Cupping?

Humidity can be an enemy of a hardwood floor.  The emphasis is “can” be and enemy.  All wood—from guitars to floors—benefits from humidity, but there is an acceptable range of humidity for hardwood floors.  Generally speaking, the relative humidity of a house with hardwood floors should range from 45% to 60%. 

If humidity is lower than 45% and the wood might shrink.  Shrinkage is more likely to happen in the winter time, and as the moisture leaves the air, humidity will also leave the wood.  Most homeowners who see gaps or cracks in their floor see these problems in the winter when the air is dryer and the humidity is lower than 45%.  A humidity meter can tell a homeowner if the relative humidity is lower than 45% and therefore if action should be taken.

If humidity is higher than 60% swelling can occur in wood flooring.  In some ways, wood is like a tight sponge, and moisture from the air enters the wood and causes it to expand. As humidity causes boards to expand toward each other, boards can buckle or cup.  This not only doesn’t look good, it can cause wood to crack. 

Best Flooring for High Humidity

If a homeowner sees cracks, they can usually determine the problem is low humidity and can purchase either a portable humidifier to keep in a room, or purchase a humidity system that will regulate the air throughout the entire house. If the problem is a buckling or cupping floor, the homeowner needs to ensure that the added humidity is not due to a leak in plumbing below the floor or somewhere else in the house.  If not, and the problem is relative humidity, a portable dehumidifier can ensure the relative humidity will remain at a level safe for the floor.

Monitoring and maintaining the humidity in your home will not only protect your wood floors, it will also make the air easier to breath. To make wood floors last longer, evaluate and maintain the humidity in your home.

To learn more about water resistant hardwood flooring options, contact Columbia Rug Carpet One Floor & Home, or visit our showroom in Peoria, IL