Just talked to on hardwood guy and he said now (April) is the good
time to install wood. Because here in Calgary Alberta, we have very
dry air in the winter. And if I wait until mid summer to do it, the
gaps in winter will be larger.
So now the air is still fairly dry, it will be better to do it now
What he said kind of make sense to me but if that's true, what about
people installing hardwood flooring in the driest months of the
winter, wouldn't the floor all buckle during mid summer?
He also said to use narrower stripe like 2 1/4" so that the
contraction and expansion are smaller.
Do you think what he said makes sense? Thanks.
Your points about acclimating the flooring before installation and
humidity control are spot on. They're crucial factors in achieving a
tight floor. I can't agree with you entirely on the smaller strips
being only for cupping - the narrower the boards, the smaller each
individual gap will be. The expansion/contraction for the floor as a
whole is the same, though.
I don't see why the floor guy's comments are reason to "kick him to the
curb". He's obviously concerned about laying a tight floor and
understands that humidity is the enemy.
As far as laying floors in super dry conditions. That's a problem,
too. A floor that is laid very tight in very dry conditions may not
buckle per se, but the wood fibers at the outside edges of each board
will be compressed/crushed as the humidity increases. Then when the
floor shrinks back down again in lower humidity the gaps will be
There's no such thing as perfect humidity or temperature control
outside of some lab or a museum. Household HVAC helps, but it is not a
To minimize expansion/contraction cycles you should try to maintain
fairly uniform humidification. It doesn't have to be perfect, but try
to minimize the extremes. Do you have central air conditioning to
remove the excess summer humidity?
There are tradeoffs in this as in anything. Adding humidity in the
winter can be problematic if your house doesn't have adequate
insulation and a good vapor barrier. The moisture can end up
condensing in your walls and causing a bigger problem than some
relatively small gaps in your floor. So don't go overboard with the
If you take care of the acclimation of the flooring during installation
and are aware of the problems created by too dry and too humid
conditions and try to minimize the extremes, you'll be fine.
Floors are instaled year around on quality homes and don`t have future
issues if allowed to reach the same humidity as the home. It can take
weeks or more. Only one way to know use a moisture meter. The guy just
wants work now, he is BSn you, so what does he do when it is humid all
summer, Not work? No he has a different line for humid times. Sounds
like he is outa work and needs a job, But does he use a moisture meter
to compare wood to your homes humidity, probably not. Floors need edge
expansion room . Call the floor manufacturer or supplier.
The moisture meter is good insurance, and the acclimation can take a
while as you say, but I'm not convinced that the contractor is scamming
as some have assumed. It's obviously preferable to avoid installing
during the seasons of highest and lowest humidity...which does point to
now as a good time to do it.
As far as the floors getting installed year round, what choice is
there? You don't expect the flooring manufacturers or wood
organizations to recommend limiting the time of installation to just
half of the year, do you? People start projects year round - they're
not going to wait maybe months for the perfect conditions. More likely
the owners/builders would switch flooring materials.
There are posts year round about the weather being too
cold/hot/wet/whatever for concrete/stucco/whatever and the work forges
on. We can give advice and recommendations on how to minimize the
impact of the weather, but it can't be escaped in construction.
I didn't get the impression that the guy was exerting big pressure on
the OP to do it NOW! I guess we'll have to wait for the OP to tell us
if there were scare tactics involved and other telltale signs of a
contractor in trouble. If not, maybe the guy was just being a regular
contractor and asking for the guy to sign on the dotted line. We'll
Measuring moisture % in wood is different then measuring humidity in
air, dry wood is is considered less than 15%. My sill on concrete is 12%
now in a basement of 50% humidity. I can see 90 % humidity being a minor
concern but the real issue is wet wood shrinks . Properly instaled
floors have expansion gaps as the house itself will expand and contract.
Any new wood should be measured for % water, I use a Delmhorst meter.
Wood takes a long time to dry if improperly stored at warehouses.
Yes, as long as you let the wood acclimatate in your house before
installation. Length of acclimatation depends on humidity difference between
wood and environment. I let mine stand inside for one week. There has been
some yearly shrinking every winter but it's acceptable (less than 1/16 inch
between some planks, none in most places).
Do you control indoor humidity? We have oak floor (2 1/4" planks) that
was installed mid-sumer (July or August 2000), and there are lots of
cracks of 1/16" to 1/8" in late winter/early spring (even now). We don't
control humidity so winter indoor humidity runs around 30%.
Those cracks will dissapear toward summer.
Go to www . rlcengineering . com (remove the spaces). Click on
"Technical Information, then Moisture & Hardwood Floors. The Engineer
is Craig DeWitt, PhD, PE. He has lots of good information on
installing hardwood floors and wood and moisture problems in general.
Read his homeowner information also. He has a wealth of knowledge. All
your questions will be answered. I think you need a new floor man
also, he knows just enough to be dangerous.
I'd kick him to the curb for the tactic of implying this is a good time to
lay a floor, and implying winter is not the time to install. We both know
flooring is installed year round and proper humidity control is the key for
minimizing shrinkage/swelling regardless of when the floor is installed .
The story the OP told leaves me with a visual of someone hurting for work,
and some scare tactics to get work. In other words, not totally honest with
the OP, so that is a concern.
I hope it isn't rainforest wood you're looking to install. What
they're doing there is absurd.
The expansion/contraction cycle is unavoidable. You're just trying to
minimize the gaps between the boards throughout the year without
overcompensating and creating other problems.
That link that Stretch posted has good graphical depictions of what the
wood floor is experiencing with changes in moisture. I didn't think
the site had a lot to offer. Various wood and flooring organizations
have more detailed information, including shrinkage ratios based on
So what's the deal with the contractor? Did you feel that he was
pressuring you into having it done right away for reasons other than
seasonal humidity timing?
On Fri, 08 Apr 2005 04:17:45 GMT, email@example.com wrote:
I think running a humidifier is a good idea not only for your floors
but for any woodwork. I used to be a professional bass player and the
winter dryness was always hell on my hundred year-old double bass.
Every spring it had to go back to the luthier to get reblocked/glued
until I started running a large capacity humidifier.
Even though I no longer play double bass, or even own one anymore, I
still keep a humidifier running 24/7 during heating season and the
woodwork and furniture is happier for it.
As to your question, there are negatives to laying a floor in very dry
conditions too, specifically an increased chance of cupping and even
popping when the wood expands in summer humidity.
Pardon my ignorance but I have question about the acclimatization of
the wood. The indoor humidity cannot be controlled precisely at the
same level all year round. The house will be drier in the winter and
less so in the summer.
So if you aclimatise the wood in the summer, it'll still shrink in the
winter and vice versa. It's not like we are flying the wood over from
the Amazon rainforrest and install it right away.
My question is, even if we do aclimitise the wood, it's still gonna
shirnk in the winter and expand in the summer. As long as the
humidity level is within a reasonable range, what difference is it
He mentioned it a bit at the end of the quote but I didn't go with him
because his quote was higher. The species I am interested in is the
Goodfellow Brazillian Teak (Cumaru), a very hard wood with a 10 coat
polyurethen plus aluminium oxide finish.
It's a dark wood so I guess it'll hide the gaps better than lighter
wood. In addition, according to the research I've done, it should
shrink about 50% less than Oak.
I'm getting it in next week, acclimitise it for two weeks and install
it before the end of the month.
I was a bit nervous about this purchase because I am paying good money
for it ($10K material and labour for the whole house).
Friend of mind asked me why didn't I get the cheap Home Depot $1.99/sq
ft Oak and save myself a bundle. No way I'm going to get those paper
thin wood that cannot be refinished with a filmsy finish. And that
once the wood goes down, it's probably not coming out for the rest of
the life of the house. You might actually be spending more and
getting less with those cheap wood.
Thanks to the internet and guys like you from here, I'm getting quite
comfortable with this purchase now and I think I have made the right
On Sat, 09 Apr 2005 05:47:08 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Your observation is correct. The reason is because you want the
finish floor and the subfloor you're fastening it to to have roughly
the same moisture content so they'll expand/shrink together. The
expansion/contraction may be tiny... less than 1/4" over a large
room... but it's powerful enough to loosen nails and split the
That's also why the finish floor should be acclimatized in the same
room, or at least the same level of the house, where it will be laid.
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