With summer approaching quickly, we wanted to cover an aspect of flooring that is perfectly natural – often referred to as “seasonal gapping”. Seasonal gapping involves both wintertime and summertime, where hardwood floors undergo changes that often tend to cause worry in consumers. Have no fear, Urban Floor is here.
Today we will teach you how to deal and prepare with year round seasonal gapping. But first, we’ll explain exactly what occurs during this process.
What Occurs During “Seasonal Gapping”?
To help you better understand this phenomenon, we’re going to use our skin as an example. When our own skin loses moisture, we become dried out. When we’re dried out, we’re more susceptible to cracked skin, etc. Hardwood floors are similar in this regard – however, a cracked floor due to severe lack of moisture is very rare.
What’s likely to happen in this scenario is your floors will lose moisture and then shrink in size – causing gaps. This typically occurs during winter when the weather is dry. These gaps tend to close up on their own during summertime when moisture is restored to the boards.
Wider boards will gap more than narrow boards, and some species will shrink less than others (e.g. a 5” Hickory will shrink more than a 5” oak plank). Also, Square edges will show more gaps than a beveled edge.
How To Deal With Seasonal Gapping
Now that we’ve briefly described this natural process, we’ll educate you on how to handle the situation.
In-Home Humidifiers – Humidifiers keep the relative humidity (RH) levels in your home at an acceptable range enough to minimize seasonal gapping – 30-50%. The alternative is to accept the gaps and wait until summer for them to close up. We highly recommend investing in a humidifier for your hardwood floors.
Touch-up Pens – you may spot small patches of bare wood showing as a result of the contractions taking place. A color coordinated touch up pen can fill in the color while you wait for summer. See MinWax Touch Up Pens
Fillers – if the gaps are absolutely unacceptable, then filling them with an Adhesive Caulking (i.e. COLOR-RITE) could do the trick. They’re available in many colors and will fill the gaps up to ¼”. If you do not understand what to do, then let a professional take care of this for you.
Pro Tip: If your hardwood floors are in an environment with “humid summers” and “dry winters” with lots of foot traffic/movement, then it is BEST to leave the gaps alone and let the process carry its course.