Caring for your hardwood floor: The Human Comfort Zone

If you google “how to care for a hardwood floor,” you will find many articles discussing the basics. Such as, don’t use anything but a damp mop, make sure to wipe down and wax your floor on a regular schedule, and only use a hardwood specific cleaner, such as those provided by Bona. All fantastic advice. But what you won’t find, is instructions on how to keep the wood at an optimal moisture content by controlling the air in your space.

Humans are creatures of comfort, and the atmosphere that we like to maintain in our homes is known as the “Human Comfort Zone.” This zone accounts for both the temperature and relative humidity of your home, and is ideally between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 30% to 60% humidity levels. Because we humans engineer an artificial climate to keep ourselves healthy, it’s important that we consider how our wood products will respond to those adjustments. This consideration is especially important if one of those wood products is a large hardwood floor, which readily responds to moisture changes in the air.

In the Steller Woodshop, we make sure that the lumber we are processing for our floating hardwood floor is acclimated to the human comfort zone before we begin milling it. This means that each board goes through the entire shaping process under climate control so that it is ready to enter your home, and then it is sealed on all sides before being transported to your door. However, this is not true of all hardwood floors. Most floors are not milled in a moisture-controlled environment and will therefore require a period of acclimation time before they settle into their initial shape in your home.

Either way, you want to make sure that once your floor has acclimated to your home, it stays that way. These tips will help you with this process.

1.) Monitor the temperature and humidity levels throughout your home. Hygrometers, or indoor humidity monitors, are an inexpensive way to keep track of this (you'll need more than one to track of each space with hardwood). Amazon sells a model for $12 that will keep track of the temperature of your room as well.

2.) Control the climate in rooms with hardwood flooring using HVAC systems or humidifiers and/or de-humidifiers, if needed. Knowing the humidity of each room in your home isn't enough to protect your flooring investment if you aren't also controlling these levels.

3.) Don't subject your home to extreme temperature swings. Many people turn their thermostat off when leaving for a trip, especially if they don't have pets. However, this may lead to a significant drop or rise in temperature, resulting in a corresponding change in the humidity of the room. Make sure that your home stays within the Human Comfort Zone to protect your flooring when you're away by using reliable thermostats and humidity monitors.

Follow these tips, and your floor will perform at its best over its lifetime. Especially if it's a Steller floating floor!

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