So far, in our hardwood vs. moisture series, we’ve learned how to protect natural hardwood floors from moisture before installation and during installation. However, the job’s not done just because the floors are installed.
Hardwood is a natural material that responds to the elements and needs to be maintained and monitored after installation to ensure longevity. In this third and final round, we’ll discuss how to protect your hardwood floors from moisture after installation.
Hardwood vs Moisture: General Maintenance
Flooring technology has come a long way, and many hardwood products come with water-resistant topcoats that provide some form of protection.
However, there’s no such thing as waterproof flooring. There are still cracks between the boards that water can get through and cause damage.
To mitigate the potential for possible damage, be mindful of spills and puddles from rainwater tracked into the home. Wipe up liquid immediately to prevent it from seeping through cracks in the boards.
We also recommend closely following the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. Most hardwood flooring products should not be cleaned with a wet—or even damp—mop.
Monitor Moisture Levels
Even if you’re diligent about cleaning up spills, moisture can still creep into your hardwood floors. This is especially true if you live somewhere humid, like Georgia or Tennessee.
Fortunately, products, like the Wagner Floor Sentry® Wood Floor Data Logger, provide a way to “shield your investment.”
Install this device under a flooring plank and it’ll alert you when temperature and relative humidity conditions might lead to moisture-related damage. This allows you to take preventative action before any long-term damage takes place.
Recovering From Weather-Related Damage
While we can prepare for the occasional spill or a humid summer, there are sometimes things we can’t plan for. Floods from a hurricane along the coast or even a pipe bursting inside the home can cause irreparable issues if not addressed immediately.
Once the water’s gone from the wood, the strands of the wood can weaken and break down. If the installers didn’t leave enough expansion room when laying the floor, it’ll buckle. Also, monitor for gapping or warping as a sign that you may need to repair or replace your floors.
After the water recedes, you can’t immediately know the full extent of the damage. To prevent the worst-case scenario, we recommend working with an experienced restoration company. They’ll suck up the water and place fans and dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture that might not be visible to the naked eye. A board might look dry but if it’s holding moisture, that moisture will continue to cause damage.
At this point, you’ll want to continue to monitor for days or weeks—whatever the restoration company recommends based on the event.
Consider Engineered Hardwood for Maximum Resilience
Natural hardwood creates a timeless aesthetic that many modern homeowners want. However, you can create a nearly identical look with more resilient products, like engineered hardwood.
Instead of thick planks carved from solid wood, engineered hardwood features a thin layer of hardwood on top of a light yet durable plywood or base core. Its plywood construction is much more resistant to moisture than natural hardwood, meaning engineered hardwood is less likely to warp when exposed to water.
The Betsy Ross collection from Landmark Interiors has an aluminum oxide topcoat, which also protects the product from scratches.
Aluminum oxide is an excellent alternative to silica, which some other manufacturers use. Silica is a known health hazard, according to OSHA, since it can cause respiratory issues and allergen complications in some people. Landmark Interiors has chosen to use aluminum oxide instead, which provides strength and a hard topcoat for the flooring.
You can explore our durable engineered hardwood products in our Look Book.
Learn More About Protecting Your Floors From Moisture
If you live in a flood-prone or humid area or are simply looking for a way to make your hardwood floors last long-term, you need to protect them from moisture.
Not all floors are created equally, so it’s important to choose the right product for your home. Your local Landmark Interiors retailer can help you select flooring and provide tips to help it stand the test of time.