How to Minimise the Effect of Pesky Winter Cracks and Gaps on Your Hardwood Floors

Installing hardwood flooring in your entire home is a clever way to keep your family warm during the cold winter months. Unlike several other flooring options, like vinyl tiles and concrete tiles, wood floors give a warm feel underneath the feet thanks to their excellent natural heat insulation.

During the winter months, however, you might start to see unsightly cracks and gaps or separations forming on the surface of your hardwood floors. These problems occur because wood is an organic material that is affected by fluctuating temperature and humidity levels in the environment. When the cold weather sets in, the wood loses moisture to the indoor environment, which in turn causes the formation of cracks and gaps on the floor surface.

Cracks and gaps formed on the surface of hardwood floors during winter tend to disappear when the weather gets warmer. However, home owners that want to minimise the effect of these cracks and gaps can do so by taking these steps:

Installing narrow boards

One way to minimise the appearance of pesky cracks and gaps on your hardwood floors is to build the floor with narrower boards. Compared to wide boards, narrower boards tend to shrink less when subjected to drastic changes in temperature and humidity levels.

Choosing more stable wood species

Not all hardwoods are equal in terms of how they respond to variations in the conditions of their environment. As such, some species of wood are less responsive to fluctuations in temperature and humidity levels than others. Before going out shopping for a new hardwood flooring product, do some research to find out what wood species are more stable when it comes to resisting shrinkage, cracking and gapping.

Adding more moisture to your indoor environment

As hardwood floors crack and develop gaps because of losing moisture, an obvious way to remedy the problem would be to introduce a moisture source in the home. While people add moisture to a home when they breathe, cook, take hot showers, or use the clothes dryer, this isn't typically enough moisture. Therefore, it is important to install a reliable source of moisture in the home. 

An efficient way to increase moisture levels in the home would be to use programmable humidifiers. These humidifiers will ensure that moisture levels are maintained within the desired or acceptable range — too much moisture will make a room damp and encourage the growth of mould and mildew.

A hardwood floor installation specialist can give you the best advice on what flooring products you can install to minimise winter cracking and gapping of your floors.