Water versus wood: Manage your moisture!

We all know that water and wood just dont mix. This is common knowledge to most anyone, not just those in the floor covering industry. Whether in relation to furniture, cabinets, or hardwood flooring, the importance and effects of water can not be over stated. So how do we as consumers go about making sure that we properly handle our moisture management? Well first lets get an idea of what the moisture levels in our wood are like upon the date we purchase them.

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In the beginning there was moisture, and lots of it!

Your engineered hardwood or solid hardwood product of choice started out as fresh cut lumber (of course it did!) and then it was deemed as what is known to woodcutters as green lumber. At this time the “green” lumber of most species of wood had a mositure level of around 90%. That is far to high to be used for much of anything so it was immediatley taken and stacked with seperations that allowed air flow in between the boards. This process called air drying takes around six weeks in the right temperature and humidity levels to reduce the moisture levels of the lumber to around 20%. At this time the lumber is still not yet ready to be used to start making products. It still has to be dried using high-tech kilns to keep it at very precise temperatures untill the moisture levels reach around 7%. Next the wood is manufactured into either solid hardwood planks or cut into thin strips and attached to a substrate made normally out of plywood in order to product engineered hardwood floors. If manufactured correctly at the proper moisture levels the end result will be beautiful hardwood planks and not warped and bent mistakes due to the power of water over wood.

The big differences in the moisture management protocol!

The differences found in engineered hardwood flooring and solid hardwood flooring can be always be substantial but in the area of moisture management they are highly important to take note of. The first thing to remember here is that not only do you want your hardwood to be at a moisture level of around 6% prior to installation, but also that allowing it’s moisture level to fall too low can also have disasterous consequences. If you want your floor to be flat and fitted properly in the years to come, then you must follow manufacturer and industry guidelines in order to assure your hardwood’s prosperity.

Official Hardwood Flooring Installation Guidelines by NWFA (National Wood Flooring Association)

 

Some quick basic tips and tricks include the following:

1. Do not deliver or bring in the hardwood products to be installed untill the installation area has been finished and closed in to achieve the stabilized temperture and climate that will be persistent within it for the known future.

2. After delivery allow the hardwood to adjust to it’s new climate (acclimate) for at least five days before the installation is carried out.

3. Make sure that you have the proper subflooring for the type of hardwood being installed and that this subfloor has the proper moisture levels.

4. Remember that engineered and solid hardwood flooring differ greatly in their resilience to moisture, with engineered hardwood taking less time to acclimate to the installation site as well as being more versatile in the subfloors it can be installed upon.

5. Once again always remember to consult manufacturer guidlines about moisture management as many variables including species, subfloor types, and product type can cause changes in the this process.


If you follow these simple guidlines and and check the moisture levels of your hardwood product (as well as that of you subfloors) properly, then you will no doubt be enjoying your gorgeous new hardwood floors for many years to come! Be sure to check out some of these quality hardwood floor covering products as well!

 


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