The Importance of Humidity
It’s around this time of year that we start talking more and more about the importance of humidity levels when it comes to the care of wood materials. Because of the drastic changes to our climate between each season extra effort needs to be taken to ensure these products are kept in a consistent environment.
There are several different opinions regarding the correct level for household humidity, ranging between 30% to 50% with the temperature at 20°. This requires frequently checking the humidity levels in your home using a hygrometer or psychrometer. Utilizing a humidifier and dehumidifier may be needed to maintain proper levels.
We are regularly asked if humidity is really that important, the easy answer is yes. Humidity plays a huge role in the structural stability of wood. Whether it is flooring, railings, or furniture proper care and maintenance are needed for a finish you can enjoy for generations. At Canadian Oakworks we work diligently to maintain proper humidity levels for the stability of the wood and to ensure proper adhesion in laminated materials. During the dry winter months, we use a psychrometer to check the humidity levels daily and an air fog system to maintain moisture levels.
If the wood becomes too dry you may notice splits, checks, or shakes. These are visible signs of contraction in the wood. With flooring this can also appear as gaping between boards.
If the wood becomes too moist you may notice cups, bows, crooks, or crowns. These are visible signs of expansion in the wood. With flooring this can also appear as buckling, where the pressure of expansion causes the boards to lift from the sub floor.
Twisting can happen for several reasons and can be hard to pinpoint. Typically, it is caused by a difference in the woods structure while being dried, where one portion of wood dries at a rate different then the rest. You may notice a twist in a section where there is a moisture leak or a vent blowing directly on an area.
Some minor damages can often be reversed, if you notice gaping between your floorboards check your humidity level, set up a humidifier and slowly increase the humidity level. If you notice some cupping or crowns, set up a dehumidifier and slowly decrease the humidity level. The key is making a slow adjustment, swinging the pendulum too far too fast can cause more problems, that may not be reversable.
Proper humidity is of the utmost importance when the wood products are unfinished, like our railing materials. When buying wood flooring or furniture it is usually a finished product, stained and sealed. But unsealed wood materials are much more susceptible to changes in humidity. All our laminated wood products come wrapped in a stretch film to maintain consistency, it is important to leave this wrap on as long possible. If the wrap must be removed and the materials aren’t going to be getting finished in the immediate future, materials can be wrapped or draped in a polyurethane sheeting to prevent any structural changes.
For all our tips and recommendations on proper care of our wood products see our downloadable “Product Care Guidelines” or get in touch with our friendly staff if you have more questions.