Wow! How about this weather? The rain and the wind are causing all kinds of trouble here in Southern California, from accidents to evacuations.
And speaking of water causing trouble, hardwood floors may take some abuse this stormy weekend. Hardwood floors are hygroscopic (it readily absorbs moisture), and therefore, react to the relative humidity in the environment. Too much moisture and you may see cupping (the edges become higher than the center of the board) or buckling (the boards begin to lift off the subfloor). Too little moisture and you may see shrinkage. That is why most manufacturers suggest keeping the relative humidity of your home at a certain percentage, generally between 30 and 60%.
Before installation of hardwood floors, contractors often, and should, check the moisture content of the subfloor. If it’s a little high, then a moisture barrier should be used, whether a concrete sealer or some type of rated underlayment. However, if it’s too high, that might indicate a problem such as leak and further investigation may be required before installation can begin. If there has been a recent flood, then the subfloor should be given time to dry out.
Many manufacturers require some acclimation time, which varies from three days to two weeks, depending on the material. This allows the wood to adjust to the moisture content of the environment.
So, all the moisture present in the environment right now may cause your hardwood floor to do some things that will make you worry. But don’t panic! A little strange behavior may not be anything to fret over. Once the sunny, dry weather is back, your floor may return to its normal self. Be sure to place mats at all exterior doors. Also, don’t let driving rain come in through open windows or doors. If water does fall on your floor, whether by rain or spills, clean it up right away. And don’t ever wet mop your hardwood floor. Remember, standing water is very bad for your hardwood floors!
If however, you notice extreme changes in your hardwood (severe cupping, buckling, and/or discoloration or delamination); you should call in an expert.