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Mike Lamb

Hard Wood Floors Separating

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I did an inspection for a young couple in May on new construction. Come winter they saw that the hardwood floors were separating substantially. The builder had the flooring guy come out and he told them to turn up the humidifier which they did. Apparently this helped the flooring problem but they have the humidity too high where its condensing on windows and causing paint on the interior windows to peal and mold.

Is the flooring guy telling them to turn up the humidity on the furnaces a dodge and that they installed the floor wrong with too much moisture?

My advice was to turn the humidifiers off and and that the condition of the floor should not be determined by the humidifiers. I also informed them that humidifiers, in my experience, do more harm than good to the home.

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I agree with you. Some shrinkage during the winter would be normal, but if it is significant the wood or the house were not dry enough when the flooring was installed. This can be a bigger problem when the flooring is wide.

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The problem is not with the house but with the floor. Dollars to donuts the flooring had not been acclimated to the house. Also the flooring installer had not checked the moisture content of the wood before laying it.

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The problem is not with the house but with the floor. Dollars to donuts the flooring had not been acclimated to the house. Also the flooring installer had not checked the moisture content of the wood before laying it.

I mentioned the house because you can acclimate the flooring to the house, but if the house has a high RH you can have the same problem. There is a lot of moisture in a house during construction.

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Absolutely right on high Relative Humidity (RH) from drywall, painting, concrete and more.

The flooring installer has to take that into account as well as the moisture content of the flooring materials being used. The installer as a professional has to know what they are doing. I can in 15 min teach someone to lay flooring, it is the prep that is a major part of the job with wood moisture content highest on the list.

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All that said, a blonde color or a light color wood floor, as was popular in the late '80s, will show any separations as pencil lines (gaps being within accepted tolerances or not).

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