Please read these oak floor maintenance instructions and advice carefully to ensure you get the very best from your floor.
Although all our oak flooring products are of high quality and are dried to provide excellent stability after installation, please understand that they’re constructed of all natural materials. Therefore, the conditions during installation should be maintained as consistently as possible thereafter for optimum performance and to minimise movement of each board within the finished floor.
As wood is hygroscopic (moisture absorbent), its moisture level will vary when forced to adjust to its surrounding conditions. The recommended level of humidity is between 40-60% and keeping the relative humidity at this level will help to avoid dimensional and structural changes within your finished floor.
Winter months are when most problems with flooring usually present themselves, simply because the air becomes drier during cold weather and most of us turn our heating systems up and run them for longer during the day.
If we do nothing to compensate for the changes that this causes, then we will experience dimensional changes within our floors that may be costly to rectify and repair.
By not maintaining the relative humidity that surrounds our flooring during these cold periods, we are forcing it to lose moisture.
- Changes in room humidity and temperature can have an effect on the dimensions and structure of your floorboards, even after installation.
- Winter months cause most problems because the air becomes drier and we turn our heating systems up for longer periods, both of which will obviously contribute to changing the room conditions.
- Special consideration needs to be applied when Under Floor Heating (UFH) is present (or heating pipes are within the subfloor).
Using a Thermo-Hygrometer
As responsible flooring suppliers, we want to help you monitor and control the conditions that surround your beautiful oak floor. A Thermo-Hygrometer will show you accurate digital readings of humidity and temperature, two of the most common contributing factors of floor problems.
Armed with this simple little device, you will be constantly aware of the fluctuations in temperature and humidity within your home, no matter what the season and the weather, so you’ll be in a perfect position to prevent any costly issues before they even begin.
If the oak wear layer on an engineered floor board is forced to change its moisture content, no matter how strong the bond is between it and the plywood base it’s glued to… something will have to give.
There have been occasions in the past where customers have claimed that our engineered flooring has started to ‘delaminate’ after installation… and in every case this has been proven as being caused by humidity becoming too low and nothing to do with the product itself.
Weather, Humidity, Temperature… And The Ongoing Maintenance Of Your Flooring
Because oak is a natural, hygroscopic (water absorbent) material, and its dimensions are directly relative to its moisture content, we must control and maintain the relative humidity within our homes to enable the moisture content of our oak flooring to remain constant. This will ensure stability of each board within the finished floor, as failure to do this may force these boards to change dimensionally and structurally. If the oak does change dimensionally, this is not a fault of the flooring itself but all to do with the conditions that it’s being forced to endure.
Here’s an example of what can happen, when the outdoor temperature is 0°C:
The maximum amount of water that a cubic metre of air can hold at this temperature is 5 grams, so when you bring this cubic metre of air inside and heat it to 25°C, the relative humidity drops to only 23%. We actually recommend a minimum of 40% for optimum floor stability (incidentally, this is also the level that health experts recommend for our bodies too, so good for our floor and good for us).
But it gets worse as the temperature outside falls lower, and this is why the air inside any heated building in the winter can become too dry, which can obviously have an effect on our flooring. When relative humidity is allowed to drop too low, our flooring is forced to lose moisture itself and will try to curl upwards towards the dry air (similar to a piece of bacon under a grill) in an effort to find moisture.
Any time the temperature outside is well below freezing, relative humidity inside will be below 20% unless you do something to increase it, and not increasing it can have a devastating effect on your oak floor.