Protecting Your Flooring Investment in the Spring and Summer
Many changes start to occur in in the spring and summer months. Trees start to bud and grow green leaves again. Beautiful flowers start to appear. The temperature and humidity start to rise and rainfall typically increases. Many people may not realize that flooring products can also go through some
changes in the spring and summer. For example, wood is a natural product, and it absorbs moisture. When humidity levels rise inside the home, the wood flooring will absorb the extra moisture and can begin to swell and expand. Vinyl products can also expand, but its caused by heat and not moisture. Hot indoor temperature and excessive heat from sunlight can create the expansion in vinyl. Too much expansion in wood can cause a wood floor to cup or even buckle. In vinyl you may see edge curling, peaking, or buckling. These issues can create costly repairs and in many cases could be avoided by maintaining the proper climate for your flooring. Depending on where you live the spring summer conditions may vary, but indoor conditions should always be kept within the wood’s comfort zone.
Wood’s Comfort Zone
Wood flooring performs best in a climate controlled space with temperatures maintained from 60F to 80F and relative humidity maintained from 30% to 50% year round. The rain and higher humidity of the spring and summer can put wood outside of the comfort zone it loves. Wood will absorb excess moisture and if left unchecked for too long it could eventually lead to cupping or buckling.
Cupped Wood Floor Remedies
If you start to notice the wood flooring is beginning to develop a cupped appearance in the spring or summer, it could be due to a rise in humidity levels in the crawl space, basement, or inside the room. A cupped floor can also be a sign of no vapor barrier on the crawlspace ground, a plumbing leak, or condensation from poorly insulated duct work. Cupping is caused by a moisture differential within individual pieces of flooring, usually created by excessive moisture vapor affecting the underside of the flooring.
Subtle cupping may be caused by a rise in indoor humidity created by leaving the windows open for a few days or turning off the AC. This subtle cupping can be fixed by restoring the indoor climate back to wood’s comfort zone. Subtle cupping may also be seasonal. It starts in the summer and goes away in the winter.
Fix any leaks, and add insulation to sweaty pipes and duct work found below the flooring. Restoration companies may be able to restore cupped floors caused by plumbing leaks by using special mats over the affected area, pulling out the moisture.
High humidity in the crawl space can be fixed by encapsulating the space and adding a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers can be run in the basement as well to remedy the cupped floor above.
Please keep in mind that these solutions are not quick fixes. It can take some time and consistent running of dehumidifiers for wood to lose moisture, especially with denser exotic species of wood. It may take several months for the flooring to return back to the original condition. If the moisture has gone but the flooring is still cupped, some products can be sanded and refinished.
Keeping humidity in check at all levels of the home can promote a healthier living environment. Plus it helps keep away microscopic organisms like mold, mildew, and dust mites that thrive in high indoor humidity environments.
Vinyl’s Comfort Zone
Luxury vinyl planks and engineered vinyl planks perform best in a temperature controlled space. For best performance keep the home climate between 60F to 85F year round. Excessive direct heat to the surface of vinyl flooring planks can potentially cause peaking, and very cold temperatures can cause vinyl to become more stiff and brittle.
Vinyl Summer Heat Protection
To protect the vinyl from the high heat of the summer, but sure to keep the inside temperature controlled and never allow it to exceed 85F. Be cautious of big glass sliding doors and windows, as they can act like a magnifying glass creating intense surface heat over 100F onto the flooring. Use blinds or curtains over windows and doors at peak sunlight hours. UV window and door films can be applied to reduce the incoming heat from the sun.
Bellawood Hygrometer order here with the floor care kit.