What You Need to Know About Hardwood Floors and Water

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Although we’re still technically in a drought, the emergence of fall and winter has brought much-needed water to our region. What does this mean for your hardwood flooring? Moisture is a common adversary for wood floors, but the good news is you don’t need to let it halt your project.

Why don’t hardwood floors and water mix? Excessive moisture will make your hardwood flooring expand, and then contract once it dries up. This process of expanding and contracting causes the boards to cup, crown, crack and buckle, all of which affect your floors’ longevity.

To make sure your hardwood flooring lasts, follow these 4 tips to keep it in tip-top shape.

4 Tips to Protect Wood Floors From Moisture

  1. Remove your shoes. This is one of the best ways to protect your wood floors from the elements. We’d also recommend putting durable floor mats at the front door as well as the back porch.
  2. Clean up right away. If rainwater does make it onto your hardwood flooring, wipe it up right away.
  3. Regulate. Adjust your home’s temperature and humidity based on industry standards to control the amount of moisture your hardwood floors are exposed to as much as possible.
  4. Invest in a moisture barrier. An important part of installation, this obstruction will shield your hardwood flooring from moisture below your home.

Why Leave the Winter Elements Outside?

It may not seem like a big deal to allow bits and pieces of winter inside, but wet hardwood floors (from rainy days or icy mornings) aren’t the only results of dirty shoes.

Imagine falling into a gravel pit or onto the sidewalk; your hands become scratched up and the surface scrapes are not pretty to look at. The same thing happens to hardwood floors when they are brought into contact with other abrasive surfaces. When rocks, salt and other gritty objects find their way inside, scratches and grooves can occur very easily and can damage the exterior of your floors.

In addition to removing your shoes at the door, add winter or holiday-themed rugs, or even cover your hardwood floors with mats to limit the amount of space that could potentially be impacted by the various winter elements.

Handling Moisture in the Air

In winter, we are all guilty of cranking up the heat, but with excessive dryness in the air, your hardwood floors could expand, contract, shift or even shrink. The absence or abundance of humidity can cause eventual damage to your hardwood floors. We suggest investing in a humidifier or de-humidifier to ensure the moisture level stays at a level that will prevent your flooring from warping or cracking.

Clean with Care

As you clean, be aware of your hardwood floors and water they’re exposed to. Instead of a deep cleaning with a lot of moisture involved, sweep often and use a damp mop a few times every week to eliminate the gunk. Be prepared with towels to absorb any surface moisture as well as a wet/dry multi function vacuum to ensure any dirt or water can be picked up in a timely manner.

How to Prevent Mold and Fungus in Your Home

Wet hardwood floors aren’t the only things to be aware of this time of year. You’ll also want to start watching out for mold and fungus that may affect your flooring. Although we aren’t mold or fungus experts, we know that it’s not good for you. As the EPA explains, “Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints…severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.”

The good news is it’s possible to limit mold and fungus growth by controlling the moisture in your home. When it comes to hardwood floors and water, the main thing to watch out for is discoloration. When heavy moisture is trapped, it causes mold and fungus; this usually affects resilient flooring, like linoleum, VCT tiles, etc., although mold can grow on practically any surface (including hardwood).

If you notice mold or fungus on your floors, make sure you take care of it right away. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • If you try to kill the fungus yourself, make sure the windows are open and you’re wearing a dust mask. Inhaling mold spores can cause a lot of health problems.
  • Keep your home dry to prevent fungus from growing in the future. A dehumidifier can help with this, as can venting your bathrooms, dryers and exhaust fans in the kitchen.
  • The sun is another way to kill mold, so keep the window shades pulled open.
  • Make sure your dryer vents outside; those that don’t often contribute to humidity within the home.
  • Add insulation to reduce the condensation on cold surfaces.

Unfortunately, sometimes flooring is too moldy to be able to clean, in which case it becomes necessary to replace it.

Are you ready to install new hardwood floors in your home? Don’t let the rain stop you! Although extra moisture will come into play, we’re able to work inside year-round to provide your home with beautiful, rich hardwood flooring.

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