Tips to avoid adhesion issues when installing a hardwood floor

Hygrometer vs. Moisture Meter

When finishing a wood floor, there are many things to consider. One of the biggest tripping points can be moisture. Understanding the relationship between humidity, temperature, and time of year will help you to ensure that you get your finish right in order to achieve an attractive floor with ease––and without adhesion issues. Here are some tips on how to avoid adhesion issues due to humidity and moisture issues.

Measuring moisture & relative humidity 

Staying on top of moisture measurements throughout the entire wood floor installation process is they key to avoiding adhesion issues.

If you’re installing hardwood flooring, moisture should be at the top of your list of things to control, which means it should be at the top of your list of inspection items before, during, and after installation. Wood moisture meters measure moisture content in wood and should be a tool in every wood floor contractor’s arsenal––not so different from an electrician using a voltage tester or a plumber with his trusty pipe wrench. Buy a wood floor moisture meter now.

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One such problem that plagues installers is adhesion issues between the finish and the wood. This is caused by improper moisture content on the surface of the wood. If not done correctly, the finish can take on moisture from a humid room and cause small bubbles to appear on the surface. This process is known as adhesion failure.

Adhesive, stains, and finishes will all have problems adhering to spots where water has penetrated or excessive moisture is present due to humidity.

Learn how and when to apply finish if your working area has high humidity.

Taking high or low humidity into account for dry times

High relative humidity can actually increase the time it takes to stain and finish your wood floors. In high humidity conditions (e.g. during the summer), finish and stain will take longer to cure. You don’t want to abrade and start the second coat too early in the curing process. 

Knowing the amount of humidity in your environment can be helpful when determining how long to allow your wood floor finish or stain to dry before applying a second coat.

We recommend using a hygrometer to measure the precise humidity levels of a jobsite. Hygrometers are precision instruments which assist you in monitoring the relative humidity (RH) of a room. Along with a moisture meter, this is an essential tool for any wood floor contractor to have on hand.

There are a lot of variables that can impact how long the first coat will take to cure. This includes temperature, humidity, the amount of finish being applied (more finish takes longer to cure), and the type of finish (water-based finish will typically not take as long to cure as oil-based poly finish.)

The big question is, how long do you need to wait before applying the second coat of finish or stain? It depends on what type of finish and/or stain you’re using and the humidity levels in the environment of the jobsite. The manufacturer should have instructions for this depending on the amount of humidity present in the environment, which is why it’s of utmost importance to measure!

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