Muggy. Steamy. Hot. You either love or hate our humid summer weather in Wisconsin. It affects our moods, outdoor activities, and wood floors.
The same goes for winter. The cold weather dries out our skin, moves our focus to the indoors, and affects our wood floors.
Normal seasonal wood floor changes
The humidity (or lack there of) that comes with every Wisconsin season can make a noticeable change in wood floors. During winter, the dry air can dehydrate floors, causing a small gap to show up between the floor boards. The humid air of summer causes the opposite effect: swelling. This small change is completely normal; however repeated drastic changes or a consistently humid environment can cause wood floor boards to cup, which needs to be repaired.
How to protect wood floors from humidity
The ideal humidity range for hardwood floors is between 35-55%. To ensure that the humidity in your home is in that range, purchase a hygrometer which can give you a read out of the moisture in the room or an appliance with a humidistat. If the humidity level is above 55%, purchase a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air. If high humidity is only a problem during summer, turn on the air conditioner at the first sign of humid weather.
Other ways to protect wood floors
Wood floors are definitely an investment that should be protected from the elements. In addition to damage from humidity, UV rays from the sunshine can fade floors, water spills can cause water stains and damage, and gravel can cause scratches.
UV rays from sunlight can affect certain types of wood, polyurethane and urethane finishes. The most affordable way to protect wood floors is with window treatments that block UV rays. To coordinate the window treatments with your wood floors and existing décor, visit a local designer to choose the right curtains or blinds for the room. For a long-term solution, replace existing window with new window with low-e glass. Windows with low-e glass have a protective film that filter damaging rays out of your home, protecting the wood and finish of your floors. If new windows aren’t on the horizon, purchase a protective film for your existing windows that can minimize the fading to your floors.
Water spills are another threat to wood floors, but with an affordable solution. Place rugs by all exterior doors and in high traffic areas, such as hallways, so that water is not tracked in on boots and shoes. When purchasing the rugs, make sure that you ask about a protective bottom that can protect the wood floors from scratches. To purchase an area rug that matches home décor, order a custom rug from a local professional. If the wood floor is in a room that is directly accessible to a lake or pool, place towels in a cabinet near the entrance to minimize the chance of puddles on wood floors.
Gravel, debris, and furniture scraping across a wood floor can do serious and long-lasting damage. Regular and preventative maintenance is the key. Put felt pads on all furniture and use cardboard when moving the furniture. Sweep wood floors on a regular basis to remove gravel and debris. Vacuum rugs by all the doors to keep gravel and sand out of your home, and off your wood floors.