INCREASED TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY
Many people don’t realize that flooring products can go through some significant changes in the spring and summer months. You can sometimes see changes in your vinyl or wood floor once the weather begins to change and the temperatures and humidity levels inside and outside the home increase. Depending on your floor type, you could see cupping, buckling, curling or peaking.
Wood flooring has been shown to perform best in a climate-controlled space with temperatures maintained between 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The relative humidity in the air should be maintained somewhere between 30% and 50% year-round. Because the humidity level and rain levels are higher in the spring and summer, this can put wood outside its comfort zone, thus causing noticeable changes in your wood.
Because wood is a natural product, it absorbs moisture. When the humidity and temperature levels rise within a home during the spring and summer, the wood flooring can absorb the extra moisture and begin to expand and swell. It is good to know the basic concept of humidity wood expansion if you are a wood floor owner. If you aren’t aware of these types of changes within your wood products, and make efforts to reverse it early, it could eventually lead to your wood cupping or buckling.
If you start to notice that your wood floor has begun to develop a cupped appearance, it could most likely be due to a rise in humidity levels within the room, basement, or space. A cupped floor can also be a sign of no vapor barrier on the ground, a plumbing leak or condensation from poorly insulated duct work. Cupping is caused by differences of moisture in different pieces of flooring. This is usually created by excessive moisture vapor which can develop on the underside of the flooring.
If your cupping is pretty subtle, it may just be caused by a sudden increase in the indoor humidity. Perhaps the air conditioning was turned off for the weekend or the windows were left open for a period-of-time. The subtle cupping can often be restored by simply returning the room to the wood’s natural comfort zone. You may notice that the changes in your wood are only seasonal. Much like allergies, sometimes the cupping or buckling will develop in the summer months, but disappear once the temperature and humidity decrease in the winter. Keeping humidity in check at all levels will not only help your floor, but also promotes a healthy living environment. It helps keep away things like mold, mildew and dust mites that thrive in high humidity environments.
There are other things you can do if you find your flooring has cupped or buckled. First, make sure to fix any leaks and add insulation to sweaty pipes and duct work beneath the flooring. You could contact a restoration company; they have remedies of using special mats to pull out excess moisture. Adding a dehumidifier into your rooms could also help. With denser, more exotic species of wood, it could take a little bit of time for wood to lose moisture. It could take up to several months for your floor to return to its original condition so it is crucial that you notice the early signs if you want to keep your wood floor in mint condition.
Vinyl products can also expand, but it is mostly due to the heat, not the moisture in the air. Hot inside temperatures and lots of exposure to sunlight can create the vinyl to expand. The vinyl edges will usually curl, peak, or buckle due to high heat. Luxury vinyl planks and engineered vinyl planks have been shown to perform best in a climate controlled space with temperatures maintained between 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit year round. While excessive heat can cause the surface of the vinyl to peak, extremely cold temperatures can also affect the vinyl, causing it to become brittle and stiff.
Be careful of big glass windows or doors because they can enhance the heat and cause the surface heat to rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the floor. It is always safe to use curtains or blinds to protect your floors from the sunlight.