Well, it is that time of the year again when the warm summer days come to a screeching halt and the leaves begin to change. The fall brings many challenges for hardwood floors which are often only remembered during the heat and humidity of the summer months. As cooler, outside air is heated for indoor use, the relative humidity level drops substantially. This in turn, affects several things related to hardwood floors; mainly finish application, maintenance and wood shrinkage.
Lower humidity will shorten the working time of applying finish, so application procedures will need to be adjusted. Streamline your techniques in order to apply finish in less time. If you restrict ventilation while applying a finish, you will create more working time. Remember to ventilate well after the finish is applied!
One trick that can help in low humidity conditions is to add a little water or “Basic® Dry Time Extender” to the finish- up to 12 oz. per gallon of finish. This will extend the application time and will help the finish flow and level in fast drying conditions.
With cooler climates and drier air, dust migration also increases. Excessive dust makes floors slippery and can increase wear. Inclement weather radically increases tracked –in dirt, salt, sand, and grit so cleaning schedules should be increased to compensate. Frequent dust mopping and cleaning with Basic’s Squeaky™Cleaner is an excellent method to remove dust, dirt, and other build-ups. Also, we recommend using a matting system by the entrance of your door to avoid potential slip and fall accidents from dirt and contaminants that are brought in from the outside.
When moisture levels drop, wood shrinkage is an entirely natural process that opens up cracks between boards in wood floors. Unfortunately, opening cracks are most always noticeable and objectionable, in newly installed or freshly resanded floors.
Inadequate building materials and subfloors, insufficient nailing or gluing of flooring, little or no acclimation of flooring before installation or improper sealer/finish systems can all aggravate a shrinkage problem. The real and only cause of shrinkage is the loss of moisture in the wood and the only reliable way to prevent cracks from opening up is to maintain constant relative humidity year round. A simple investment in a humidifier can do wonders for maintaining a beautiful wood floor.
The cooler months can be a hard time for your hardwood floors, but few simple steps can dramatically decrease the risk of damage. Look to Basic Coatings® for more tips and recommendations for your hardwood floors!
Micah Petersen, Product Manager for Basic Coatings®, spent the first 15 years of his career as a Research and Development Chemist before becoming Product Manager. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family and a multitude of outdoor activities. For further questions regarding hardwood floor care and Basic Coatings, please email Micah at Micahblog@basiccoatings.com.