Seasonal gapping and expansion should be expected in all hardwood flooring and neither of these naturally occurring phenomena constitutes a product failure. To protect your investment and to assure that your hardwood floors provide lasting satisfaction, note the recommendations below.
Many homeowners notice that, at a certain time of year, their hardwood floors begin to morph, shrinking as cracks appear within the wood, and later expanding, during a different time of year. All wood flooring is natural and contains moisture, so when the environment within and around the home changes, the content of the moisture in the wood will change as well. The changes in moisture then result in the floors either contracting and causing gaps, or expanding and re-filling gaps. Here’s what happens throughout the year:
- As temperatures drop outside, hardwood flooring shrinks. This is especially true of dry, arid climates. When it’s cold outside, homeowners keep the doors and the windows shut, and kick up the heat. This causes the air inside your home to both dry and pull moisture from the wood, causing shrinkage and cracks, which are most noticeable near sources of heat such as vents or baseboard heating units.
2. When the temperature outside drops below freezing, most of the moisture in the air will drop as frost, ice or snow, leading to less moisture in the air which also results in shrinkage and cracking.
- As the days become warmer,the once shrunken hardwood flooring begins to spring back to life and expands to its “normal state”, at which time, the cracking and gapping become much less noticeable.
- As the temperatures begin to drop again, the cycle starts all over, and continues year after year.
To make sure you treat your floors right, think about what you’re doing to care for your skin at various times of the year. In the winter, you use lots of moisturizer and keep warm, right? When it’s cold out. think about maintaining moisture levels and warmth. In the summer, how do you feel- maybe a bit sweaty? The muggy environment created by the extra humidity during summer months can cause your floors to over-expand, so aim to keep things cool and dry. The key is to be mindful of the conditions in which your hardwood floors are living in and take special care to protect your floors year round, especially when you’re away from home!