Expansion and Contraction of Hardwood Flooring

It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: you’ve invested in beautiful, natural hardwood flooring, when suddenly you notice that the previously smooth surface suddenly has cracks between the planks. What’s gone wrong?

In most cases, the answer is nothing. Expansion and contraction is to be expected in a natural product like hardwood flooring. Here’s a brief primer on what’s normal for a wood floor, as well as how to avoid any true moisture damage.

When you’ve selected hardwood flooring for your home, you’ve purchased a living product. Even after it has been cut, wood retains its hygroscopic properties. Hygroscopic means that it naturally absorbs and attracts moisture from the air. It’s a bit like a sponge: when moisture is present, your wood flooring will expand, and when it is dry, it will contract.

According to Hardwood Floor Magazine, its normal to see cracks as wide as a dime appear in between planks during dry months. These will disappear when humid weather returns. If you want to reduce this, you can try using a humidifier to add a slight amount of moisture to the air, or even have a humidifier installed in your furnace.

Once your wood flooring is in place, you can keep it in top condition by avoiding any surface moisture. Don’t mop your floor with a wet mop. Clean it instead with a cloth that has been dampened with a wood-recommended cleaning product. If you must use water to clean up a big mess, clean only the part of the floor that needs, and dry it well afterward. Make sure to wipe up any spills promptly.

If you keep these tips in mind, you can expect your hardwood floors to stay smooth, even and lovely for a lifetime or more. And when you see any small cracks between planks, you can breathe easy: it’s just the normal seasonal expansion and contraction of a natural, living wood product.

Note: Dorrance Hardwood Floors always acclimates hardwood flooring (in home) prior to any Installation. We are not responsible for hardwood flooring that expands or contracts, during summer and winter seasons.

spill & spot cleaning

general cleaning

wine spilled on hardwood floor

For spills or spot-cleaning, spray Squeaky Hardwood Floor Cleaner directly on the spill, or on the terry cover of the Squeaky Terry Mop, and clean as needed.

Where can you purchase cleaning Products?

Squeaky Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Squeaky Terry Mop

cleaning hardwood floor

For general cleaning, spray an area 4' x 4' with Squeaky Hardwood Floor Cleaner, or spray directly onto the Squeaky Terry Mop.

Making sure not to over-wet your floor, too much liquid will cause damage to your hardwood floors. For best results, buff dry with a towel after cleaning.

common hardwood liquid damage causes

  • potted plants on hardwood Potted Plants & Christmas Trees Be careful not to over-water potted plants that are placed on your hardwood floors. The combination of water and soil will be absorbed into the wood and leave stains. Often times when hardwood under potted plants is inspected stains can be found. Many people find that when they take down their Christmas trees they have damaged their hardwood flooring.
  • pet on hardwood Pet Stains Most pet stains in hardwood floors will not sand out with a refinishing. Pet stained areas in most cases will have to be replaced with new hardwood flooring during the refinishing process.

care tips

Protect and maintain your hardwood.

Here are some tips to keep your new hardwood floors looking good.

  • use mats in traffic areas and doorways.
  • avoid rubber backed mats that may discolor floors.
  • place felt pads under furniture. the pads should be inspected and cleaned to remove any grit and periodically replaced.
  • keep pets nails trimmed.
  • do not roll or slide appliances across floor.
  • Heels can cause damage to your hardwood floors.
Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Even with proper maintenance, eventually your floor may become dull or worn looking. It may be time for a refinishing. Contact us for a free evaluation.

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