Once you have decided on installing laminate wood flooring in your home, it is important that you understand everything that goes into care for it before having it installed. There are some things that make a difference in how your floors will hold out over the year, including how the climate can have an effect. Here are some basic things you need to know about climate and how it will affect your laminate wood floors.
Know the Basics
There are some things that everyone should know before having floors installed. Climate is one of those things that will affect the flooring unlike anything else. This is because all around the world there are a variety of different climates and humidity levels. One of the basic terms that is discussed in conjunction with humidity is the RH level. The RH stands for relative humidity and it will cause the wood to expand and contract. This is something that is going to happen almost anywhere, but there are ways that you can control it. Warming the air will lower the RH while cooling raises it. This is because cooling the air too much will cause condensation and raise the humidity. Temperatures should be kept between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but ideally between 68 and 72. The RH needs to be kept between 30 and 50 percent, but ideally 45.
When the RH is Too High
One of the basic things that most people now about laminate and wood flooring is that water can damage it. This is important to know because the moisture does not just come from spilled liquids. The moisture that can ruin flooring can also come from the air. Homes with laminate wood flooring in places like Florida, need to be careful because of the humidity that is in the air. The effect of moisture on floors causes the boards to absorb the water and expand. Installing a de-humidifier is a great way to help pull the moisture out of the air and help preserve your flooring for longer.
When the RH is Too Low
Cupping, or “dry cupping” is the most common problem to happen when the RH is too low. This is something that happens the entire winter in most areas and happens because the wear layer, or top layer, of the engineered board is drying out, it pulls away from the middle, or core, material. What this will look like to you is that the corners will be lifting or curling. The boards can also have splits or checks appear which will cause wrinkles or even small ruptures in the finish of the flooring.
On top of making sure the RH and temperatures are held constant within the recommended ranges, there are other measures that can be taken in order to help prevent the effects of both too much and too little moisture. There are some things you can do during the installation process to give your floors the highest levels of success possible. The first tip is to install a radiant heat source that gives greater stability to the flooring system. This helps prevent cupping, swelling, warping, and splitting. This is preferred in moist climates especially. There are also other types of floors that will resist these problems.