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Cracks in wood floors

With the harsh, cold temperatures in Iowa this year, people with wood floors are undoubtedly experiencing some significant gaps or cracks between the boards on their wood floors.  Most with experience in having wood floors aren’t too alarmed, but if you are new to them, it can be disheartening.

Wood flooring, as a natural product, gains and loses moisture through the changing seasons.  In our climate, where it goes from very hot and humid to very cold and dry, this can be hard on wood flooring.  As the wood loses moisture, it shrinks.  This happens to all the wood in your home, but the floor is one of the few places where you have multiple pieces of wood all placed together, and is the first place that this will show.

Once your wood floor shrinks, it is almost impossible to close it back up through your own devices, as you cannot add enough humidity back into the home to make it close (your windows would fog over if you tried, possibly damaging the woodwork there).  This has to happen naturally when the seasons change, and usually they will start to tighten back up about a month after your furnace is off for the season.

To control this process as well as possible, Phillips’ Floors recommends using a humidistat to monitor the humidity in your home.  If possible, the humidity levels should be maintained between 30-50% relative humidity year round.  If your home is 35% year round, or 50% year round, wood should not expand or contract, but since this is often impossible in our climate, the goal is to keep the swing from high to low as small as possible.  This can be done by using a humidifier during the winter months (installed on the furnace or stand-alone) and if necessary, a dehumidifier in the summer.

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