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Death, Taxes, and Winter Time Cracks

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Jan 03, 2020

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Three things you can depend on are death, taxes, and cracks between the boards of your wood floors in the winter! Wood floors continually expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity of the jobsite/environment.

In the winter, with heat being turned up for warmth, the moisture level will decrease. In turn, the wood floor boards will also get drier and shrink, and as they do, they will pull away from each other.  Humidifiers are always recommended to maintain proper moisture levels, but sometimes they are not effective enough.  When moisture levels go down, hopefully the resulting shrinkage (aka “cracks”) are very small and spread evenly throughout the installation, as opposed to fewer and wider cracks. 

Conversely, as heating is reduced or eliminated, the flooring will then expand, as the moisture in the environment increases and is absorbed by the wood.

Discuss your options with your hardwood flooring professional to avoid costly challenges associated with shrinkage and expansion.  For example, if you are considering using an OMU (oil-modified urethane), it is recommended to wait until the wood flooring is expanded and tight. This is because, if the flooring is dry and the gaps are open, the oil can drip down into the tongue and groove cracks, where it may not dry completely.  Then, at a later time, if the floor expands, it will force up the undried finish and cause polybeads, which would be an eyesore on your beautiful hardwood floor. 

If you are considering having a wood floor installed or wood floors sanded and refinished, talk to your wood flooring professional about the type of stain, sealer, and finishes they recommend.  You should also discuss the temperature, humidity, and timing to help reduce the chances of any issues.

Real hardwood floors are always a great option, and Basic Coatings is the expert in staining, sealing, finishing and maintaining your hardwood floor!  Please peruse our website for ideas and complete product information.