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Why does my hardwood floor have gaps?

We all love our hardwood floors, but sometimes we all don’t understand the proper maintenance and climate for our wood floors. In this blog post, we will explore what seasonal gapping is, why it happens, and how to prevent it. We will also discuss the proper climate for a house with hardwood floors.



Seasonal gapping is the natural expansion and contraction of wood in response to changes in temperature and humidity. During the winter months, the air is drier, and the wood loses moisture, causing it to shrink. This shrinkage can lead to gaps between the planks of hardwood flooring. Conversely, during the summer months, the air is more humid, and the wood absorbs moisture, causing it to expand. This expansion can cause the gaps to close up or even push the planks together, resulting in cupping or buckling of the floor.


While seasonal gapping is a normal occurrence, excessive gapping can be a cause for concern. Large gaps can allow dirt and debris to accumulate, making it harder to clean the floors. They can also diminish the aesthetics of the floor.


To prevent seasonal gapping, it is essential to maintain proper humidity levels in your home. The ideal relative humidity for a house with hardwood floors is between 35% and 55%. Investing in a hygrometer can help you monitor the humidity levels in your home. During the winter months, when the air is drier, using a humidifier can help keep the humidity levels in check. During the summer months, when the air is more humid, using an air conditioner or a dehumidifier can help prevent excessive expansion.


Another way to prevent seasonal gapping is to choose the right type of hardwood for your home. Some hardwood species are more stable than others and less prone to expansion and contraction. For example, red and white oak are more stable then a wood species like hickory.


Proper installation can also help prevent excessive seasonal gapping. Installers should acclimate the wood to the environment in which it will be installed. This process involves leaving the wood in the room where it will be installed for a few days to allow it to adjust to the temperature and humidity levels.


In conclusion, hardwood floors are a beautiful and timeless choice for any home. Seasonal gapping is a natural occurrence, but with proper maintenance and attention, it can be prevented. Maintaining proper humidity levels, choosing the right type of hardwood, and proper installation can all help prevent excessive seasonal gapping. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your hardwood floors remain beautiful and functional.


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