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Q: Caring for Hardwood floors - what temperature to keep the house in the winter ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Caring for Hardwood floors - what temperature to keep the house in the winter
Category: Family and Home > Home
Asked by: debhouse-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 27 Nov 2006 12:30 PST
Expires: 27 Dec 2006 12:30 PST
Question ID: 785992
I recently moved into a house with Brazilian cherry hardwood floors.
They are installed with no spaces between the boards (they are fitted
very tightly together).

I heard that I should keep the heat on the in winter to at least 66
degrees Fahrenheit to keep the floors from warping.

My question is:
*Is it true that I have to keep the house heated to 66F?
*Is a lower temperature OK? How low?

Subject: Re: Caring for Hardwood floors - what temperature to keep the house in the winte
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 27 Nov 2006 18:52 PST
Hello Debhouse,

   It appears that temperature is important when installing hardwood
floors, but afterwards, humidity is the enemy of your floors, not
heat. You should be able to adjust your home heating system to your
personal comfort. If you live in a dry area, consider a humidifier.
Read the page below about cupping and cracking to decide if you need a

   ?Cracks in winter--in the drier months--may easily develop to the
thickness of a dime (1/32 inch) for solid 2 1/4-inch wide strip oak
floors. Floors with light stained woods and naturally light woods like
maple tend to show cracks more than darker, wood-tone finished floors.

The cure for cracks? Homeowners should add moisture to the air during
dry periods. It's their choice-live with the cracks and wait until
spring, or else add humidity by opening the dishwasher after a rinse
cycle, switching off the bathroom fan or hanging laundry to dry in the
basement near the furnace. Better yet, install a humidifier in the
furnace, or an exterior air vent for the furnace burner.?

   ?HVAC systems must be fully operational at least 14 days prior to
flooring installation, maintaining a consistent room temperature
between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity between 35-55%.
This not only stabilizes the building?s interior environment, but also
is essential when acclimating hardwood flooring to the job-site.?

?Wood is a porous material with a natural cellular structure that
expands and contracts depending on the amount of relative humidity
present in the surrounding atmosphere. Equalizing moisture content to
the job-site equilibrium point before installation is paramount to
stabilizing movement after installation.?

?Always use a moisture meter to determine where the flooring and
present job-site conditions are in relation to the projected final
equilibrium point taking into account seasonal changes.?

   ?The second characteristic of durability is stability. A hardwood
that is stable will not change shape and size much with changes in
humidity and temperature over the course of the year. If you prefer
natural ventilation during the summer, with its higher humidity,
stability should be a consideration.?

   ?...make sure the cherry is in the house and acquires the room
temperature and humidity for at least 4 days... spread out if
possible.  I am sure the contractor will know these points... stagger
the joints as much as possible... 6" minimums.  For the dust control,
I recommend creating a wind tunnel effect.... one opening for incoming
air.... one opening for exhausting that air.  If you can arrange a
window type fan... put a shroud around it to maximize its
effectiveness.  Where possible make the two openings opposite rooms
and or walls.  For the final surface... Shellac.   NOT poly, not
lacquer, not urethanes.  Shellac has lasted 60 years for my parents
house.  It has taken a recoat bout every 8 to 10 years.   I hope you
can keep me informed how this goes.... it can be AWESOME>  I hope to
make my kitchen cabinets from this cherry as well.   Also... I would
be curious where you purchase your cherry??

   "Thanks for the response.  What do you mean by "stagger the
joints"?  What effect will this have?  I am getting the wood delivered
on Monday for a next Monday start so the wood will likely be exposed
to the house for a good 7-10 days before installation.  My house seems
very dry this winter (as evidenced by my bedroom doors not shutting
properly, essentially not locking in place when closed
seems as though all of the moisture has been sucked out!).  Will this
be a problem for the floor when the warmer/more moist weather rolls
around?  We have forced hot air and 2 young boys so I can't exactly
turn the heat down significantly a few days before to get some of the
dryness out.  I am thinking of getting one of the humidifiers that
attach to the furnace but will this be a problem if I get it installed
AFTER the floors have acclimated to my house??

   ?Finished products have a harder, often aluminum oxide, finish that
you can get years of service from before they need to be refinished. 
They are quicker and less messy to install, and offer superior value
and performance.  Unfinished however, allows you to choose a stain and
have a solid layer of polyeurathane, filling all the spaces between
the boards and all the nooks and crannies, and if the floor gets
dinged, it is easier to remedy.

2. Engineered flooring is not only more structurally stable than
traditional 3/4" solid, ie. it expands and contracts much less than
solids, it is also more environmentally responsible.  It expands and
contracts less due to changes in humidity because each layer is
"grain-reversed," meaning that one layer runs east-west, the next
north-south, and alternates.  It is more environmentally responsible
because the core species typically mature in a fraction of the time of
the top-layer species.  (Brazilian Cherry 90-120 years, and Cypress,
Hard Pine {core species} 30-40 years.)  Also, more of the desired
top-layer species can be used for other floors.

3.  As flooring goes, Brazilian Cherry is beautiful.  This species
does darken quite a bit when exposed to natural light.  The more
natural light, the darker it will get.  An aluminum oxide finish with
sunshield will help slow that process by as much as 40%.  I am not
sure if Bellawood offers a sunshield or not.?

   ?Early in-floor radiant heat systems were temperamental, expensive
and only a hand full of heating companies had the experience to
install them. Nowadays, radiant heat systems have become a lot more
prevalent, affordable and reliable. Using the wrong wood flooring or
installation methods over a radiant heat system though can be
devastating. Unlike a conventional heating system which emits heat
from the base of walls or up through a vent in the floor, radiant heat
transfers the heat directly under and up through the wood flooring
with temperatures of 80 degrees or higher. Due to the natural
characteristics of wood, absorbing and holding ambient moisture, along
with the ability of the wood floor boards to expand and contract with
different moisture levels within its environment, the dry heat
directly under the wood flooring can cause the flooring to dry out
quickly and contract in size, causing cupping and/or large open gaps
between the boards. Also, not all species of wood are good candidates
for an installation over radiant heating. I do not recommend using
Maple, Pine or Brazilian Cherry because they are noted to be unstable
wood species.?

   ?When considering any kind of hardwood floor you have to keep in
mind that wood is a hygroscopic material. This means when wood is
exposed to climate elements such as air and water it will dry or pick
up moisture until it is an equilibrium with the humidity and air
temperature. Moisture absorption causes wood to swell. In return,
contraction can occur in dry climate levels. In conclusion, different
types of wood species have different toleration levels to different
climates. Thus, it is essential to consider what type of wood to
include within your home depending on the location of your home. There
are other options, which can include leaving a small gap between the
wall and the flooring to allow for expansion and contraction and can
be covered with mounting to cover up the gap.

     Brazilian Cherry can be an expensive choice, however due to its
reputation of rich color add breadth and beauty to your home its worth
it when it comes to quality and character. What a better way add the
South and Central American accented beauty to your home without
additional any staining. This is a stand alone beautiful wood with a
reputation for exquisite and enriched attractiveness.?

   ?Our hardwood floors are kiln dried to a moisture content of
between 6 and 9 percent. Hardwood floors will naturally expand and
contract with fluctuations in temperature and humidity. However,
hardwood floors perform best when they are within a
temperature/humidity range of 6 to 9 percent. At this range, expansion
and contraction can be reduced to its minimum.?

   ?Wood dries rapidly when the heat is first turned on. It dries to a
lower moisture content toward the end of the heating season. When the
radiant heat is turned off, moisture once again starts to seep into
the wood subfloor and radiant slab. Abruptly turning on the radiant
heat in the fall will subject wood flooring to rapid and easily
noticed movement: Evidence of this movement will be cupping or
crowning of the boards. Finally, shrinkage cracks will appear between
individual floor boards. Alternatively, gradually turning the heat on
before the first really cool day will begin the seasonal movement more
gradually. Thus, the movement of the floor will be much less
noticeable. As always, humidity controls can help offset flooring
expansion and contraction.?

    ?Brazilian Cherry (Brazilian Hardwood) 
Brazilian Hardwood typically refers to Brazilian Cherry wood or
Jatoba, and is naturally stunning with a subtle grain. Very hard and
durable, this wood is often used for outdoor furniture. With versatile
applications, Brazilian Cherry wood is often a favorite among wood
workers. You will find Brazilian Cherry wood in hardwood floors,
cabinetry, railroad crossties, furniture, tool handles, and more.?

A: Yes, any room except a full bath. With the variety of products
available and a choice of installation options, hardwood flooring can
now be installed in any room of the home. The only consideration is
whether the floor will be installed on-, above- or below-grade. For
example, because of potential moisture problems, solid hardwood is not
recommended for installations below grade, such as in a basement.
Engineered products, which are inherently dimensionally stable, are
better choices for this area. All types of hardwood can be installed
on- or above-grade.?

Caring for your hardwood floors:

How to clean your hardwood floors:

I hope this has answered your questions. If any part is unclear,
please request an Answer Clarification, and allow me to respond,
before you rate.

Regards, Crabcakes

Search Terms
Caring for hardwood floors
Humidity + Brazilian Cherry hardwood floors
Subject: Re: Caring for Hardwood floors - what temperature to keep the house in the winter
From: barneca-ga on 27 Nov 2006 14:10 PST
i'm a little puzzled by this advice.  my first thought would be that
as the temperature decreases, the boards would contract a little,
creating small gaps, so the current lack of spaces between the boards
wouldn't matter.  seems to me like you'd get warping if the floor got
too hot, or too humid, not if it got too cold.

i have been wrong before (twice this past year), and according to my
wife i'm the anti-handyman, so take that with a grain of salt.


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