winter floor

Mind the Gap

Three things you can depend on are: death, taxes and gaps between the boards of your hardwood floors during winter.

Wood floors expand and contract with changes in moisture content. In the winter, increased heat inside a building or home causes the moisture level in the air to decrease. Humidifiers cannot always keep moisture content stable in the air meaning that the hardwood flooring can become dry and contract. The boards will shrink away from each other causing gaps between the boards and cracks in the finish. The flooring will then expand tight when the moisture returns to the wood.

When summer temperatures and humidity return, the wood will expand and fill in the gaps; however if there is severe cracking in the boards or finish, the damage may be permanent. Many professionals recommend installing wood floors during stable humid conditions for this reason. To measure the humidity levels in your home, use a hygrometer to determine whether conditions are ideal to install new floors.

If you are considering having your wood floors sanded and refinished with a low-VOC OMU, it is recommended to wait until the wood flooring is tightly expanded. OMU’s with low VOC have high viscosities and do not dry completely when applied. The new finish will fill into the cracks between each board and will not dry completely. When the flooring expands tightly together again, it will force the undried finish up and cause polyballs, small beads of finish forced up onto the floor surface as the boards regain moisture and expand. These are an eyesore to your beautiful hardwood floors. Therefore, waiting to redo the floors with a low VOC OMU should be considered.

4 thoughts on “Mind the Gap

  1. Rachel

    We moved in half way through the first, humid month of our summer, so I’m curious to see what our floors will do once it starts to get cooler and drier. Thanks for the info.

    Reply
  2. Justin

    I layer 110 year barnwood on my floor and I have gaps. I’m putting gym finish on it. Will the gym finish fill the cracks or would I have to use rope or putty?

    Reply
    1. BasicMarketing Post author

      We recommend using wood putty to fill in the gaps before putting finish down. The finish would fill the gaps, but it would cure poorly and result in poor color.

      Reply

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