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Seasonal Changes of Cape Cod Hardwood Floors

by in Hardwood Maintance
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Summer’s just around the corner in Cape Cod, and you know what that means - lazy days at West Dennis beach or any other favorite, followed by something to eat at Longfellow Restaurant over in Yarmouth. The warmer temperatures generally bring out the best in people and, as it happens, the worst general humidity - for Cape Cod’s Hardwood Floors. Much like hardwood floors anywhere else, they are susceptible to humidity throughout the year. But what kind of changes can you expect? Below we look at possible seasonal changes to your Cape Cod hardwood floor, and how to prevent any potential damage.

Spring & Summer

When things finally start warming in May, and lasting until October, humidity rises, which means there’s more moisture in the air. Cape Cod’s Hardwood floors absorbs the abundant moisture in the air during these months, and like other wooden floors, tend to expand. When too much expansion occurs, cupping happens; the outer edges of individual boards start lifting.

Controlling indoor humidity with an air conditioner or dehumidifier can help bring humidity levels back down to the 40% - 60% range, and your Cape Cod hardwood floor will restore to a smooth, level state on its own. Extreme cupping, however, may require a refinish. If left too late, individual boards may start to crack - so be sure to keep an eye on it through the warmer months.

Note: Exotic wood species tend to prefer higher humidity levels, generally between 50% - 70%.

Autumn & Winter

‘Gapping’ is what can happen during the colder months - when the general humidity drops below 40%. In this instance your Cape Cod hardwood floor loses the moisture it retains, and shrinks. This leaves gaps between individual boards. Although the boards themselves will remain intact (in other words, there’s no risk of structural damage to individual boards), dirt, grime, and debris do tend to accumulate between the widening gaps, which may cause problems when the wood expands during the warmer spring and summer months.

Ventilation is one factor that can directly contribute to the loss of moisture within a house. Cool, relatively dry air that enters a home and warms up tends to lose its moisture. This absorbs moisture from the wood, causing the boards of your Cape Cod hardwood floor to shrink. As such, reduce ventilation during the cooler months, and install a humidifier to keep indoor humidity levels in the 40% - 60% range. Boards that have shrunk will soon return to their normal state once humidity is restored.

Preventative Care

Installing a hygrometer (a relative humidity measuring device) is an easy way to keep an eye on indoor humidity levels. The addition of a (de)humidifier can greatly add to the control of indoor humidity levels.  This should be complemented with tests that can determine whether your Cape Cod hardwood floor needs a refinish; a surface with its finish still intact will better retain moisture and prevent excessive moisture loss.

Finally, just remember to keep your Cape Cod hardwood floor clean - less dirt and debris reduces the chances of long-term structural damage, and can drastically lengthen the time between refinishes.

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