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climate–friendly floors – hardwood flooring

Hardwood Flooring

Flooring Type - Hardwood

While hardwood flooring can be a beautiful addition to any home, it can be a challenge to maintain in some climates. Hardwood floors perform better in mild climates that don't experience extreme indoor humidity changes. To enhance the performance of your hardwood floors, maintain an indoor humidity level between 35–60%.

If you live in an extreme climate and want to install hardwood flooring, choose engineered hardwood floors. Engineered hardwood floors come in either multi–ply or 3–ply and consist of 3 or more layers. These layers make engineered hardwood usually more stable than solid hardwood. (For more information on engineered hardwood floors, go to Hardwood Flooring Types.)

Pros

  • Performs well in a median climate (a climate where it's not too hot or cold, with no changes in humidity)
  • Engineered hardwood flooring may be installed above grade, on grade, or below grade (grade = ground level) in areas where humidity is controlled.
    Note: Non–engineered hardwood flooring is not generally recommended for below grade installation

Cons

  • High humidity can cause hardwood planks to expand and contract
  • Low humidity can cause hardwood planks to shrink, which can create gaps in the flooring
  • Pooling liquids can warp or swell hardwood planks and leave behind spots
  • Direct sunlight can cause hardwood planks to fade

Hardwood Flooring Climate Tips

  • Protect your subfloor with a moisture barrier or underlayment, such as cork or foam rubber
  • Set hardwood flooring in the room prior to installation to let it acclimate (adjust) to your environment. Refer to the manufacturer's guidelines or speak to a flooring professional to learn the proper acclimation process
  • Be sure to leave the recommended expansion gap at the edges of the room and around any fixtures (radiator, fireplace, etc.) when installing
  • Apply several coats of hard urethane finish to the flooring for extra protection
  • To maintain an even floor color and tone, regularly rearrange furniture and rugs so all areas receive the same amount of sunlight
  • Protect your floor from fading by applying UV protection (solar screens) to windows or by closing drapes or blinds on sunny days
  • Try to maintain an indoor humidity level between 35–60%
  • Control indoor humidity with a humidifier (for low humidity below 35%) or dehumidifier (for high humidity above 60%)

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