Dimensional Stability, how to prevent cracks
in your hardwood flooring.
Hardwood Flooring must be chosen based on your environment, not
your neighbour's or that of a family member.
Sure they can suggest a wood species that appeals to them visually,
but you must make the ultimate decision as far as what type of
wood flooring is going to perform the best, under your specific
home conditions.. so let me give you a few ideas first on how
humidity can be addressed...
- Air Conditioning... this is the perfect answer. Air conditioning
prevents the build up of excessive moisture in the home, eliminating
most of the hardwood flooring expansion issues. It allows you
to consider the full range of woods as appropriate flooring
- Humidification: This is the opposite end of the spectrum.
In northern climes or for that matter anywhere that experiences
excessive dry winter weather, you must consider some method
of introducing moisture into the home environment. This usually
entails the installation of an air exchange unit and a humidifier.
The exchange unit brings new oxygenated air into the home from
outside and the humidifier add moisture. This is extremely important
for the success of your wood flooring installation. The moisture
prevents excessive drying and shrinking of your floor.
Controlling the home's humidity between these two seasonal extremes
is the most important factor in preventing cracks in your hardwood
floor or in the opposite extreme, buckling.
That being said we understand that it is impossible, and undesirable
to spend the day studying your humidistat, and some homes, especially
older ones will always experience fluctuations in humidity. Thus
it is important to choose woods that are inherently more stable..
ie. less likely to respond negatively to humidity changes.
or Dilation-coefficient is a measure of a wood floor's
stability, under changing humidity conditions . Wood research
labs have taken the science out of the equation for you and I
and assigned a dilation-coefficient to a long list of wood species.
This quantified woods from the most stable to the least. Here
is a list for you to peruse.
In order of woods for hardwood flooring that are the most stable
to the least stable -->
- cabreuva (Santos Mahogany) (most stable)
- this would suggest that beech would be a very poor choice for
an unstable environment like an unheated winter cottage, lake
side property or over radiant heating.
Today there are a lot of exotic wood species that are new to
the hardwood flooring market. I'd suggest that you do your own
research, if the sales staff can not definitively recommend this
species as appropriate for your given home environment.
I hope this helps, Karen