Hardwood floors are beautiful. They can make a home look warm, cozy, sophisticated, and value to your home if you’re thinking of selling.
But hardwood can be costly; it’s one of the most expensive flooring choices you can make for your home. If you decide to install hardwoods throughout your home, knowing when to undergo hardwood floor repair can save you money and increase the longevity in the years to come.
For many homeowners, adding hardwood is for investment purposes only. They understand hardwood adds value; they wouldn’t think of adding anything else.
If you are trying to sell your home, or have bought a house to flip after substantial renovations, putting in hardwood flooring before putting the for sale sign out on the lawn is a good idea. It will cost a bit upfront, but the return value on the resale of the home can be staggering. According to Realtor.com, more than half of homebuyers are willing to pay more for a home if it has hardwood floors.
But what if you just want to update your own home? When might be the best time to undertake hardwood floor repair?
If you are remodeling and buying new furniture, this is a perfect time to spruce up your flooring too. Refinishing hardwood can take a few weekends to complete if you’re doing it yourself. Regardless of who handles the project, a remodel of the interior of your home is ideal because you can time it so that the old furniture is gone before the installation takes place. Then once the flooring is in place and fully cured, the new furniture can come right in. Otherwise, you will have to find a place to store your current furniture while repairs are happening. This may involve making use of a shed or having to rent a storage unit for a month for the furniture.
What about the actual installation and timing of hardwood floor repair and installation?
There seem to be different schools of thought on this, with some experts leaning towards winter and others spring/summer. Hardwood floors naturally expand and shrink throughout the year depending on the humidity levels in the air, so where you live will play a large part on when you decide to do these repairs.
Gapping is the term used by industry experts when talking about humidity levels. You want to ensure a minimum amount of gapping between new floorboards, so timing is crucial. Humidity is the one element that will impact how the new flooring will settle and adjust.
Gapping occurs; it’s a fact of life. If you install your hardwood flooring in the summer, it may shrink the following winter. And if you install new flooring in the winter, it will expand and get tighter in the summer. While there are many opinions on the best time of year to install hardwood floors, professionals in the industry do all agree on this point—find the average humidity level in your home year-round to reduce contraction and minimize gapping.
The best results are achieved if the hardwood flooring is installed at an average humidity level. So a project that involves installing and repairing hardwood flooring isn’t something you decide on one weekend and then tackle the next. If you’re ready to add hardwood flooring to your home, spend some time researching and figuring out when humidity levels are average in your home: not too high and not too low. You’re looking for average. While not always needed, products that test humidity, hygrometers, are good tools to use to monitor these kinds of conditions. A decent hygrometer will run about seventy to 200 dollars, well worth the cost to avoid disasters with your flooring once it is installed.
Relative humidity should be at about 35 percent on the low side and 60 percent on the high side. Use this as your baseline. Also, consider getting a dehumidifier or air conditioner (depending on what it will take to manage humidity) to control the environment in your home. Once you sort out the humidity issue, you can pretty much do hardwood floor repairs any season, depending on where you live and the moisture levels in your home at that time.
You can also control gapping issues with the width of floorboards you select. Smaller floorboards will be more forgiving. Although these boards will contract and expand at the same rate, a 5-inch board will appear to contract and expand more than twice as much as a 2-inch board.
No matter what time of year you decide to install hardwood flooring, the most important thing is to bring the hardwood inside the home before installation to let it acclimate to the internal conditions. Ask your hardwood flooring provider or installer how much time is suitable for optimal result. We find an average of seven to fourteen days is usually best. Just don’t leave it in the garage or entryway; instead, place the hardwood will it reside in your home. This gives it a chance to condition to the area before you start the installation process.
You should also keep in mind the time of year you’re installing the hardwood and how much heating or cooling your home will endure throughout the process. Heating tends to dry the air while cooling tends to add in moisture. In the heart of the winter, you know your heater will be operating hours at a time. That might not be best for your new wood. While proper ventilation is important, it’s equally important not to let your HVAC equipment work overtime.
Doors will be open a lot because old flooring will be carried out and other materials brought in. On the flip side, if you do this in summer and temperatures are sweltering outside, and you have the air conditioning running, your AC bill might go up, and the unit will work overtime because doors will be opening and closing more than normal.
So remember, wood flooring should be installed when the home’s relative humidity is 35 percent to 60 percent, and the flooring should be acclimated for seven to fourteen days. Doors will be open a lot. Beyond these key factors, deciding when to install and repair hardwood flooring is really a personal preference.