When is the Best Season to Install Hardwood Floors?

When Is The Best Season To Install Hardwood Floors?

Wide plank hardwood, installationYou probably have heard that wood expands in the humid summer and then contracts in winter dryness. For this reason, it is normally recommended that you lay your hardwood floors in the winter months. Because when the days warm up, the wood that you have installed will expand, maintaining a good fit.

However, suppliers of hardwood flooring can encounter problems and not be able to supply your hardwood on time. While you are waiting, some weeks may pass as the seasons change. Once the delivery arrives, normally the suppliers want to allow a couple of weeks for the wood to acclimatize, in particular if it has come from tropical countries. So you could find that your hardwood will arrive in the early summer. Will this be a problem? Should you do anything different when you are forced to install under more humid conditions than you were hoping for?

Wood is a Living Material

Wood is hygroscopic. Now, what this means is that it will absorb and release moisture repeatedly. Because of this characteristic it is normal that some gaps will appear as the wood dries and cupping takes place from time to time. The only way to stop this happening is to maintain the temperature and humidity levels static, but this will be practically impossible unless you hermetically seal your home.

Preparing the flooring

One point that all the wood laying experts agree on, is to not acclimatize your wood in outdoor humidity conditions or outdoor temperature. This is particularly important if you live in an area where hot and humid conditions are quite normal. If you do not follow this advice, the most common result will be that the gapping between the floorboards –once you lay them – will be larger than you expected.

Make sure that you have a temperature and humidity meter on hand. It should not cost you more than about $25 and you can move it from room to room to check the conditions before laying your hardwood flooring.  Professional floor layers use moisture meters that can read the moisture levels in both the wood as well as the subfloor that will support the flooring. What they are looking for is a moisture match between 2% to 4% between the hardwood flooring and the subfloor.

You probably don’t have access to such a professional tester, but don’t worry, just use common sense. The key objective is to acclimate the wood in an indoor environment where it is going to be installed. For this reason it is best to not use your garage or outbuildings, unless they are heated or cooled at temperatures and humidity similar to the conditions found in your house.

According to many flooring professionals, if you aim for an ambient temperature of about 69 F and 50% humidity, this is a good setting. You can use your HVAC system to set the humidity and temperature levels as typical in your home. The normal recommendation is to acclimatize wood for about a week in the room in which it is to be installed.

Hot Humid Summer Installations

Some flooring installers actually recommend that you install during the summer, if you have A/C installed. The A/C units will draw out some of the humidity. They point out that as the flooring shrinks during the winter and the hardwood floorboard gap, thanks to the heating of the home, the floor will remain solidly in place. If on the other hand you install in winter, there is the danger of the expanding boards cupping and even buckling or tenting.

In summary, the season with average moisture content is the best condition to lay the flooring. You should also leave the installation of hardwood flooring in Richmond Hill to professional hardwood floor installers so that the moisture does not become an issue developing later on with your floors.