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Local Business

Understanding How Moisture Levels Affect Hardwood Flooring


Wood is hydroscopic and hardwood floors naturally expand when moisture is present, and contract when it is not present. Excess moisture can cause cupping, while a lack of moisture can cause gapping in wood boards.

What is cupping?

Cupping is when edges of a board are high and its center is lower. High humidity is usually the culprit, but cupping can also happen because water has been absorbed into the wood. The moisture then causes the wood to swell, crushing the boards together and deforming them at the edges. Most often, indoor humidity will need to be controlled to tackle this issue, however, other causes could be a plumbing leak, moisture in a basement or crawl space, or improper maintenance of the floor.

Once the cause of moisture is determined and controlled, cupping will usually reverse and normalize over time on its own.

What is gapping?

Every wood floor endures expansion and contraction as seasons and humidity levels change. In winter months, humidity levels drop, boards shrink, and gaps appear between the boards. Wider plank floors may develop wider gaps than narrower strip flooring. These gaps are expected and will usually close up as moisture returns to the air.

To reduce the degree of change, you should operate a humidifier during the dry months to keep a minimum of 35-55% humidity.

So while hardwood flooring can be a beautiful and stylish flooring choice for your home, it is not totally worry-free. The good news is that it is easy to stay on top of the moisture issue, and keep your flooring looking good for a long time.

For more information, please contact:

Family Flooring America

2015 Dean Street,

Saint Charles, IL 60174

Phone: 630-584-9300