Dry Winters and Humid Summers

Yes, Florida is humid and New Mexico is dry. In Maine our winters can have the dryness of New Mexico and our summers can have the humidity of Florida. It’s true. Have you ever tried to get your house over 30% relative humidity in the winter?

I did an experiment one year in my own house in Winterport, Maine. During the winter months I used two humidifiers, each used 2.5 gallons of water. That’s 5 gallons of water per day. I put one upstairs and one downstairs, I could barely keep the relative humidity at 30%. So you can imagine if I didn’t use anything - like most of us. Then come summer I used two dehumidifiers, one downstairs and one upstairs, and it worked pretty well (until it got to be the hottest time of year and I had to open the windows). I have to say I had a lot of distilled water for my iron to use.

Wood Floors React to Humidity

So you can understand how your floors react to this constant change of humidity. When a wood floor comes from its place of creation it comes at the best balance for that product, with approximately 8% moisture content. In the winter your wood floors can drop down to 5% or lower if you burn wood or have hot air heat. In the summer it can climb to 12% moisture content and higher if you live on or near a water source or wetland.

Cracks Widen in Winter, Narrow in Summer

Now back to your floor. Let’s say you’re installing your wood floor in the winter. It comes to you at 8% and if you let it acclimate too long, it drops down to 5%, then you install it. Everything looks great until the humidity sets in. The wood will have to go from 5% to 12% or higher. Now you have wood that wants to expand, because that’s what wood does when it picks up moisture. At this point, the only thing it can do is buckle upward. On the other side, if you’re installing your wood floor in the summer, the same wood comes to you at 8%, and if you let it acclimate too long, it jumps up to 12% or more. Everything looks great until winter when the wood goes back down to 5% or lower. You could almost lose your grandkids in the cracks!

Install Your Flooring With Humidity in Mind

My advice is to install your floor somewhere in the middle, and install the wood timely to its arrival. Thanks!

~ Floorman