With summer quickly approaching, rising humidity levels can compromise your wood floor installations if not accounted for.
Moisture levels can be read with a meter like the Wagner MMC 220. This is a pinless meter and allows you to get an accurate reading without sticking pins into the floor and creating pinholes. Each species has its own unique equilibrium moisture content. The Wagner MMC 220 comes with a chart that indicates these numbers for the most common species.
Humidity Considerations for Floor Installers
Once the humidity levels rise above 55%, wood flooring can begin to buckle or cup. Each species has a specific equilibrium moisture content, and if the levels fall significantly below or above this point, problems will ensue.
How can installers compensate for increased humidity levels during the summer when installing a wood floor? One way is to make sure that you are diligent about measuring the moisture content of a wood floor before, during, and after installation.
You’ll want to measure the hardwood floor moisture levels during at least four different points in the installation process. Note that this protocol should be followed year-round–not just during the summer when the humidity levels are high.
1 – When you first bring the floor to the jobsite, in order to get a baseline measurement and determine whether the floor is at an acceptable moisture level to begin acclimating and then installing it. If your reading deviates significantly from the equilibrium moisture content for that particular species, there may have been a problem at the manufacturer or during transportation to the jobsite. This is why City Floor Supply reps take moisture measurements of the wood every time we drop product off at a jobsite. You should also measure the moisture content of the subfloor prior to installation.
2 – When you’re acclimating the floor. This is the process by which you allow the floor to sit in the room in which it is going to be installed so it can gradually adjust to the moisture content in its environment.
3 – Between coats of finish to determine if the floor is ready for the next coat.
4 – Once the installation process is complete so you can ensure that everything has been done correctly and you can leave the jobsite with peace of mind.
Humidity levels in the summer rise significantly, which can not just affect the flooring itself, but also the time it takes for your finish to dry. You’ll want to refer to the finish manufacturer’s instructions to find out how long it normally takes to dry, and how long it takes to dry when the humidity levels are high.
If the finish manufacturer permits it, you may be able to use a box fan to help speed up the drying process.
Humidity Considerations for Homeowners
You can do your best to prevent moisture problems from cropping up while performing the installation, but once you leave, it is up to the homeowner to make sure that excessive moisture isn’t a concern in the home in order to protect the integrity of the floors.
Keep in mind that an air conditioning unit helps to remove moisture from the air while it is running, but not while it is sitting idle.
A dehumidifier can also help to remove moisture from the air, however it can only do so much. If there is a significant problem with moisture in the home, a dehumidifier cannot help enough to prevent problems with the hardwood floors–the root cause of the issue will have to be tackled.
A hygrometer will help homeowners keep an eye on the level of moisture throughout their homes so they can make adjustments as necessary.