Despite the fact that hardwood flooring has been existence since the 17th century, few homeowners appreciate the basic conventions for hardwood floor installation. For example, most property owners would be taken aback if their hardwood flooring contractor suggested putting in that new wood floor over the winter months. However, as explained below, there are two significant advantages to installing hardwood flooring in the winter. They are:
Floorboards change size with shifts in temperature.
Because water is so crucial for life processes, all organic substances, including wood, expand in heat and shrink in cold temperatures. The hardwood that makes up wood floors is not exempt from this rule. Like all trees, the species used to create hardwood floors use vertical vessels to carry water up their trunks. In humid, hot conditions, these vessels swell, while cold, dry weather causes them to sink, even after the trees have been processed into wood flooring. When the weather in your area is hot or humid, your floorboards will naturally swell.
Predictably, serious problems can occur if you fail to consider temperature and humidity in your installation plans. Hardwood flooring contractor types can verify that it is difficult to properly space wood floors in the summer, since floorboards are naturally swollen at this time. Floorboards placed side-by-side in a summer installation will inexorably contract in the winter, leaving gaps between boards.
On the other hand, winter installation also poses its own challenges. If you place floorboards in the cold of winter and neglect to leave proper gaps for summer expansion, cracking could occur later on. For this reason, a hardwood flooring contractor who knows his stuff will leave gaps between boards on a wintertime installation job.
In winter, moisture is less likely to be trapped underneath wood flooring.
Contractor types prefer arid conditions when installing wood floors, for several reasons. For one thing, floorboards are liable to warp and buckle over time if the subflooring is moist during installation. What’s more, health-threatening organisms such as mildew and mold can thrive in moist subflooring.
Some areas (such as the Pacific Northwest) have lots of moisture throughout the year. In such locations, it’s important carefully check the condition of the area where the floor will be fitted. This involves duct taping a plastic sheet over the installation area. After a few days, look for wetness underneath plastic sheet. If you do discover moisture, it’s wise to wait a couple more days for the area to dry out. Should your subflooring stubbornly refuse to dry completely, you can improve conditions by running a dehumidifier.
Moreover, it’s crucial that you allow wood flooring materials to acclimate prior to installation. While your floorboards are being acclimated, keep them in the space where they will be installed. A week should be enough time to bring the wood into sync with surrounding temperature and humidity conditions.
The takeaway is this: Winter is a good time to install hardwood flooring because boards are at their smallest size in cold, dry conditions. This means it’s easier to anticipate the size of gaps between floorboards. Here’s one more reason why hardwood flooring could be easier in the winter: Friends and family are happy to open up their homes during the holidays, so you’re sure to find a place to stay while the hardwood flooring contractor does his work.