Hardwood Regular & Preventive Maintenance
Here are a few requirements that will help you enjoy a great-looking floor longer.
- Regularly sweep or vacuum the floor to prevent sand or abrasive dust from accumulating and scratching the finish.
- Sand and water are wood’s worst enemies. Place rugs inside every outside entrance of the house, in front of the kitchen sink, kitchen working stations and the dishwasher to protect the floor from water or oily detergents.
- Use adequate floor protection (felt pads) under all furniture and chair legs, in order to ease their movements and to prevent scratches.
- To prevent excessive movement of the floor boards, maintain the relative humidity level in your home between 40% and 50% throughout the year. Hardwood is a living material which reacts to changes of relative humidity. During the humid seasons, moisture is absorbed by the wood which then expands. During the dry seasons wood releases its humidity and shrinks.
- In summer, when humidity is at its highest, it is absorbed by the wood which then expands. These variations can be minimized with proper ventilation, dehumidifying or heating. In winter, on the other hand, when the heating system is on, the relative humidity level in the house is much lower. It is then recommended to use a humidifier, in order to minimize extreme shrinkage effects.
- Protect your floor against direct sunlight or any intense source of artificial lighting. Over time, intense light will discolor exposed surfaces. This phenomenon with wood surfaces is normal and natural.
- Never use wax, oil-based detergent or any other household cleaners on our Pre-finished floors. These may dull or damage the finish, leaving a greasy film and making the floor slippery and more difficult to clean.
Let’s take a look at some good tips to help prevent and maintain your hardwood new.
Wood is a natural product which is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs and gives off moisture, which causes the wood to expand or shrink depending on the moisture content of the air and surfaces the wood comes in contact with. For this reason the moisture content of not only the wood but of all surfaces around the floor and the air in the area where the flooring is to be installed has to be regulated.
Moisture content of wood flooring is measured with a moisture meter.
Hardwood Flooring is dried to 6% to 8% moisture content. According to NOFMA specifications, this figure may be higher or lower by 5%, so moisture content must always be checked before installation and compared with surfaces in the area where the flooring will be installed.
Installers need to be aware of the dynamics of moisture and wood and make judgments about when and how much acclimatizing is required. This could be proximally one week or more, depending on moisture conditions.
Once the flooring has been installed the least movement of the wood will occur when the interior environment is controlled to stay within a relative humidity range of 40 to 50% and a temperature range 16 to 27°C.
Open the boxes and allow the wood to acclimatize to the ambient of the room. The wood must be given 48 – 72 hours at approx. 23°C (72°F) and a relative humidity of 45% before installation.
Find out the moisture content for flooring installations in your area of the country. You can do so by contacting an expert. Once you have this range you need to measure the moisture content of the hardwood flooring and acclimatize accordingly. If the flooring is dryer or wetter than the range specified for your area you need to get it within that range by exposing the wood to the air in the room where the flooring is to be installed.
When the packs of wood arrive at the jobsite the humidity and temperature must already be at the required settings. The flooring must be removed from its packaging material and in some way exposed to the surrounding air. This can be done by placing the flooring on stickers, long strips of wood about 1″ wide and 1/2″ thick. These are spaced about 12″ apart and the flooring is laid across them. As flooring is usually random length this is not the easiest method. Laying the flooring boards against a wall so that they have air circulating all around the board is an effective way to acclimatize the wood. After a day or two the moisture content must be checked to see how the wood is reacting. Once the specified moisture content is reached the wood is ready for installation in the area where it was acclimatized.
Is greatest in the tangential direction (along the growth rings). Shrinkage in the radial direction (perpendicular to the growth rings) is quite a bit less. As solid wood flooring is made by slicing the log from tip to bottom, any typical floor will include both radial and tangentially cut pieces. It is therefore possible to take the average shrinkage between these two amounts to figure out how much the floor is likely to move from season to season. Do keep in mind, however, that these values are the MAXIMUM shrinkage that can be expected for that species. With flooring stored, layed or installed indoors, the actual shrinkage will be around one fourth to one half of the maximum amount.
Preparation for Hardwood Installation
Job site conditions – As moisture is an important factor with natural wood, a few points must be considered when installing a solid hardwood floor.
- Check the job site before delivery. Be sure the flooring will not be exposed to excessive periods of high humidity or moisture.
- Basements and crawl spaces must be dry and well ventilated. In joist construction with no basement, outside cross ventilation through vents or other openings in the foundation walls must be provided with no dead air areas. A surface cover of 6 mil polyethylene film is essential as a vapor retardant in crawl space construction.
- The building should be closed-in with outside windows and doors in place. All concrete, masonry, sheetrock and framing members, etc. should be thoroughly dry before flooring is delivered to the job site.
- The average moisture content of framing members and sub flooring should be below 12% – 14% before delivery of the flooring.
Use standard NOFMA or NWFA installation methods. For more information on Installation please refer to NOFMA, www.nofma.com or NWFA, www.nwfa.org.
IRONWOOD INC cannot be held responsible for bad or improper installation done by your installer. When choosing an installer, make sure that the installer is qualified and up to date with NOFMA and NWFA standards and regulations.