Wood is quite durable under any reasonable conditions. Extreme conditions, like intense heat, heavy impacts, or very high or low humidity will cause problems with timber floors. Most of these factors are not too difficult to avoid. But humidity is something that needs to be checked.
The moisture level in a room with a wooden floor should be kept at around 35% to 55%. If the air in the room has this humidity level then the timber floor in the room will stabilize at a moisture level of about 7 to 8%. In constantly humid environments the floor might be better kept at 10-11% moisture level.
Wood will absorb or lose moisture to the surrounding atmosphere. It the air is too humidity the wood will soak up moisture, which will cause swelling. If the air is too dry the wood will shrink and possibly crack. But these extremes must be avoided.
- Cupping – the edges of the timber plank curl upward. The edges are higher than the middle of the plank. This will cause an uneven floor
- Crowning – the middle of the timber plank curves upward. This type of problem will tend to at least partly rectify itself when the moisture level stabilizes at a lower level.
- Buckling – this is a more extreme situation where the floorboards tend to pull up from the subfloor. This requires boards to be re-nailed. Fortunately, the issue is quite rare.
Humidity sensors are fairly inexpensive, available at home and hardware stores. If the room humidity is in the 35% to 55% level the floor should be quite stable.
If humidity is low you can add some indoor plants to the room. Or use an electronic humidifier. Spraying in water with a spray bottle (the type used for kitchen cleaning) can help.
If humidity is high you can use an air conditioner to reduce levels. Or use a de-humidifier. It is also good practice to use exhaust fans when cooking and always dry washing outside.
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Damaged timber floors can be resorted to a virtually new appearance with re-sanding, polishing and staining.