It goes without saying hardwood flooring is timeless. Whether it lines the floors of an urban loft or a classic New England colonial, we never tire of the charm it adds. But with any flooring comes maintenance to prevent issues as time goes on. With wood flooring, its number one rival is moisture. And with moisture having so many possible sources, knowing your hardwood flooring is the first place to start protecting it from water damage.
What Happens When Hardwood Is Exposed to Water?
The crux of the answer lies in how much water the flooring is exposed to. A little, such as a splash from a mop bucket, can be easily cleaned up. But a lot of water, such as a flood or broken water line from an appliance, will need professional help to remove with no lasting damage to the hardwood. Industrial size and strength fans can dry the flooring before buckling happens. They also dry the subfloor underneath and prevent further damage and mold growth.
What Is Normal Moisture Content for Hardwood?
When you start shopping for hardwood flooring, odds are you’ll hear the phrase moisture content more than once. It’s the weight of the water as a percentage of the oven-dry weight of wood. Depending on the temperature and kind of wood, full fiber saturation ranges from 28 to 31 percent.
Humidity plays a larger role than temperature in possible damage to hardwood floors. Solid and/or engineered floors should be kept between 35 and 55 percent humidity in a home or office. More than this level can result in moisture creeping into the wood and causing the boards to swell. But, below this threshold, wood can become too dry and weak.
What Are the Most Common Types of Hardwood Flooring?
American hardwoods are most common, with red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, white ash, hickory, and pecan leading the way. From there, it’s broken into one of three types of flooring.
Solid hardwood is very sensitive to moisture. The dry air created from heating in winter causes solid hardwood floors to contract, leaving gaps between the planks. But in the summer when humidity levels increase, the floors expand to the point of cupping and buckling. With this sensitivity, solid hardwood floors are only installed on or above ground level, over a wood subfloor.
Engineered hardwood floors carry a little more leeway where they’re installed. With anywhere from three to 12 ply layers, engineered floors carry more resistance to moisture levels. Engineered floors are several wood plies glued together. A center core of softer wood makes up the tongue and groove. A hardwood finish layer is glued to the top with another softer hardwood underneath as the bottom layer. They can be installed in any room, including those with high moisture such as basements and bathrooms.
Longstrip hardwood is a type of engineered wood that also goes by engineered long strip planks or floating wood floors. These floors can be installed anywhere in the home, and are made up of a variety of domestic or exotic wood species. Its name comes from the size of an individual plank, a standard 86 inches in length and 7.5 inches wide.
How Can I Maintain My Wood Floors and Prevent Water Damage?
Wood flooring is beautiful and can last many years, but not without a helping hand. Regular maintenance is key, behind making sure you have the correct kind of hardwood installed for a specific room or climate. To start, be diligent about immediately cleaning up spills and drops.
To aid against water damage, reapply oils, lacquers, and other hardwood protecting finishes as needed. But, sanding and refinishing isn’t a yearly rule. Instead, it’s recommended every three to five years, depending on the amount of foot traffic and wear the floor takes.
Use only hardwood floor specified products to clean the flooring. Not all cleaning products are made for every surface, especially wood floors. Self-polishing wax causes the wood surface to become slippery and appear dull.
The Clean My Space channel provides us with some more maintenance tips.
How to Clean Hardwood Floors (Household Cleaning Ideas That Save Time & Money)
Water Extraction Experts Can Get Your Hardwood Floors Back
Water damage happens and sometimes, sadly, it happens to hardwood flooring. With our one hour or less response time to any water damage emergency, we’ll begin working to repair and restore the floor. Using our industrial-strength dryers, we create a custom structural drying plan for your home. This process takes on average four to five days.
Once structural drying is done, we move on to reconstruction, the final step in returning functional hardwood floors to your home.