Control of the interior environment before, during, and after wood flooring installation is always stressed by reputable flooring contractors. Failure to control atmospheric conditions is among the worst culprits in bringing about wood flooring movement and gapping. When gaps develop, the flooring contractor is generally the primary suspect; however he is not always the responsible party. Evaluation by an experienced wood flooring consultant may be helpful, though there are steps that can be taken to help avoid the problem in the first place.
Of course, before any wood floor is installed, the moisture contentment of the subfloor and planks should be measured to assure that they are within acceptable range, and acclimation of the wood flooring prior to installation is recommended in certain circumstances (though not always… but that’s a topic for a future blog post). If the wood floor is also installed in the right atmospheric conditions, then the floor will never develop any gaps, right? W R O N G ! Sure, it means you’re off on the right foot, but this is by no means the end of the story! Maintenance of temperature and relative humidity within an acceptable range is necessary to control future movement of the flooring.
Optimally, solid wood floors should live in an environment that is between 60°F and 80°F, with relative humidity between 30% and 50%. Trouble is, it has always been difficult to determine when and if the conditions strayed outside the acceptable range, especially after the contractor has left the job site. Fortunately there are now relatively inexpensive atmospheric data logging devices available on the market. They offer a wide range of features including: storage of tens of thousands of Temp/RH readings, alarm or autodial activations when conditions drift outside specified range, downloadable measurement histories, digital displays, etc.
As you can see, investing a small amount of money in one or more data logging devices for a space can help in maintaining atmospheric conditions, provide a history of conditions, and ultimately, can save a wood floor from excessive gapping.
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