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As the summer heat settles in place here in Oklahoma’s Green Country, you may notice some changes in your hardwood floors, especially after a run of particularly humid weather. Perhaps you’ve noticed some unevenness in the planks–a sign of warping or “cupping.” Maybe you’ve heard the floor creak under your feet in certain areas. It may leave you wondering if the hot, humid weather is harming your hardwood floors.

In most cases, the answer is no–but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a few precautions. While wood floors will expand and contract naturally in response to changes in temperature and humidity, excessive levels can sometimes do damage. Let’s discuss this in a bit more detail and talk about what you can do to safeguard your hardwood floors this summer.

“It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity.”

When it comes to hardwood floors, this saying couldn’t be more true. While wood floors can generally withstand the summer heat, it’s actually the high humidity that can do the most harm. Not only does wood absorb moisture from the air, but the warmer temperatures actually enable the wood to expand and absorb even more moisture. As the wood planks expand, they start pressing against one another, which causes them to flex. This is what often causes the symptoms like warping, cupping, squeaky floorboards, etc.

Now, in most cases, this behavior is normal, and as the temperature and humidity subside, your floors will relax and settle back into place. But in cases where they are exposed to extreme heat and humidity for an extended period, the boards may start to crack and even begin to come loose from the subfloor–and this is damage that won’t resolve on its own. You’ll have to get a hardwood flooring expert to come out and do repairs.

Tips to Protect Your Wood Floors in Summer

The good news is there are steps you can take to reduce the risk that your hardwood floors will take damage from heat and humidity. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Keep wood floors out of direct sunlight, if possible. Not only can the UV rays fade the wood over time, but direct sunshine adds more heat and makes the wood capable of absorbing more moisture. Consider keeping blinds/drapes closed on hot days.
  • Maintain comfortable indoor temperatures. Keep the air conditioner running to maintain a consistent temperature–even when you’re not home. In most cases, this will be enough to keep excess humidity at bay since cooler air stores less moisture. If you go away on vacation, keep the A/C on; if you want to save electricity, at least make sure the thermostat is set below 75 degrees.
  • Consider investing in a dehumidifier to help regulate the humidity levels in your home. For maximum protection for your floors, a dehumidifier will help maintain proper moisture levels in the air inside when the humidity soars outside. (For best results, try to keep humidity levels around 55 percent.)

If the summer heat and humidity do manage to cause cracking or permanent cupping to your hardwood floors, it’s important to leave repairs to the professionals to ensure the job is done right. Renaissance Hardwood Floors can give you a complimentary evaluation of the condition of your floors and let you know what needs to happen to restore them to their original condition—or if you wish, we can install a whole new floor for you. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.