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Tag Archives: warping floors

  • Hardwood Floor Repair—What You Need to Know

    Posted on April 30, 2013 by Jennifer

    Whether you have brand-new hardwood floors that now feature a single unfortunate scratch, or whether you’ve purchased a home whose antique hardwood floors are in need of serious TLC, repairs are something every wood floor owner must face from time to time. Continue Reading

    This post was posted in Care & Maintenance, Flooring Repair and was tagged with Douglas-fir, Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, stains, maintaining wood floors, maintaining fir floors, squeaky floors, warping floors, wood flooring repair, repair wood floors, repair wood flooring

  • Expansion and Contraction of Hardwood Flooring — and How to Avoid it

    Posted on February 19, 2013 by Jennifer

    It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: you’ve invested in beautiful, natural hardwood flooring, when suddenly you notice that the previously-smooth surface suddenly has cracks between the planks. What’s gone wrong?

    In most cases, the answer is nothing. Expansion and contraction is to be expected in a natural product like hardwood flooring. Here’s a brief primer on what’s normal for a wood floor, as well as how to avoid any true moisture damage.

    When you’ve selected hardwood flooring for your home, you’ve purchased a living product. Even after it has been cut, wood retains its hygroscopic properties. Hygroscopic means that it naturally absorbs and attracts moisture from the air. It’s a bit like a sponge: when moisture is present, your wood flooring will expand, and when it is dry, it will contract.

    According to Hardwood Floors Magazine, it’s normal to see cracks as wide as a dime appear in between planks during dry months. These will disappear when humid weather returns. If you want to reduce this, you can try using a humidifier to add a slight amount of moisture to the air, or even have a humidifier installed in your furnace.

    One way to make sure that your wood doesn’t warp or buckle when it expands is to select a product like clear vertical-grain Douglas fir. This type of wood is known for being extremely dimensionally-stable. Also, because of its tight growth rings and clear vertical grain, when CVG Douglas fir expands and contracts, it does so evenly, at the same rate all the way up and down the length of the wood. It’s also important to select a product that’s been kiln-dried for maximum stability.

    The best way to avoid any expansion-related problems is to stop them before they stop. When you install your hardwood flooring, make sure that the flooring planks are allowed to acclimate, spread out in the room they will be installed in, for several days. Before you go to work installing the flooring, check the moisture content of the subfloor—a moisture meter is a handy tool for this. You also need to lay down a moisture barrier of some kind over the top of the subfloor; this will prevent any moisture from seeping up from the ground beneath during the lifetime of your floor.

    Once your wood flooring is in place, you can keep it in top condition by avoiding any surface moisture. Don’t mop your floor with a wet mop. Clean it instead with a cloth that has been dampened with a wood-recommended cleaning product. If you must use water to clean up a big mess, clean only the part of the floor that needs, and dry it well afterward. Make sure to wipe up any spills promptly.

    If you keep these tips in mind, you can expect your hardwood floors to stay smooth, even and lovely for a lifetime or more. And when you see any small cracks between planks, you can breathe easy: it’s just the normal seasonal expansion and contraction of a natural, living wood product.

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, flooring stains, maintaining wood floors, maintaining fir floors, removing pet stains, hardwood pet stains, warping floors, floor maintenance, floor care

  • Moisture Meters & Douglas Fir: Common questions about moisture meters for wood

    Posted on July 12, 2011 by Nicole

    What’s a moisture meter? When should I use one? And, Do I really have to use a moisture meter on my new Douglas fir floors? These questions might pop up as you’re starting a home project or major renovation. What follows is some moisture meter Q & A, starting with the basics, that should help you decide if using one is right for your current project.

    Q: What’s a moisture meter?

    A moisture meter measures the percentage of moisture in something. There are moisture meters for ceramics, concrete, soil, and most commonly, wood. It comes in handy during a renovation or building project, usually before a material is installed, like wood flooring.

    In this post, we’ll be referring to moisture meters used specifically on wood.

    Q: Why should I use a moisture meter?

    A moisture meter is a prevention tool. Taking a moisture reading of your floor boards before installation tells you how much water or moisture is in the wood – too much or too little at time of installation can cause big problems later. It’s sort of like taking the temp of a turkey in the oven – too hot and you’re left with a brittle bird; not hot enough and you might find yourself leaving the dinner table repeatedly throughout the meal. In cases like this, prevention is the best medicine.

    moisture meter

    A pin meter can be used to measure the moisture in Douglas fir.

    Q: What types of moisture meters are there?

    Pin and pinless models are two of the most common types of wood moisture meters. The latest models have an LCD screen. Wood moisture meters should also have settings specific to ‘wood species’. On these, the user can adjust the meter to the species being read, such as Douglas fir or Cedar. Different species have different characteristics, so they all give different readings even when the moisture content is the same.

    Q: How does a moisture meter work?

    Pin moisture meters commonly have two pins – Pin A + Pin B – that are inserted into the wood. Once the pins are in, a current passes from Pin A to Pin B. Since moisture conducts electricity, a strong current indicates high moisture content. A low current means low moisture.

    A pinless or surface moisture meter sends electric wave signals into the wood. These signals create a field. The level of moisture – high or low – affects this field.

    Q: Is one type of meter better than the other?

    A pin moisture meter is the most accurate. But, if the material will be featured in highly visible areas, the pin-holes can be an eyesore for the homeowner. And, the pin detectors may be more challenging to operate; some have tiny cables that tangle easily.

    Pinless moisture meters are easier to use, but also more likely to give a faulty reading if there is moisture on the surface of the wood. However, there’s no piercing involved.

    Q: When do I use a moisture meter?

    You can use a moisture meter before, during, and after any wood installation project -- for products like flooring, decking, paneling, and trim. Tracking readings is important throughout the project. Why? You’ll learn that in the answer to the final question.

    Q: What’s a good moisture-reading?

    A good reading is one that is compatible with its working or end-use environment. It is referred to as the equilibrium moisture content (EMC), when the wood’s moisture is in sync with its surroundings. Because environments, seasons, and climates change, so does the EMC. That’s where the average moisture content figures into “a good moisture-reading.”

    Builders and contractors tend to rely on an average moisture content of 8% which is common in most of the US, even in the rainy Northwest. Hot ‘n’ humid places along the central and southern coast of California and the South have an average moisture content of 11%. In desertscapes like Arizona and Nevada, the average moisture content is close to 6%. Knowing the average moisture content of where you live (and where the wood will be), helps you achieve EMC, creating wood + environmental harmony.

    Q: Do I really need a moisture meter?

    The quick answer is, “That depends on the homeowner.” Most contractors, builders, and wood-working shop owners rely on moisture meters – it’s a tool of the trade. This is why proper acclimatization is an essential step for homeowners who don’t have or use a wood moisture meter. Installing Douglas fir flooring right after it lands on your doorstep is bad practice and not recommended. Wood needs time to adjust to its new home, whether that is your living room, the attic, or even the deck. If the moisture content is too high, way above the EMC, the floor boards will shrink and gap along between the seams. If the content is way below the EMC, you’ll end up with floor boards too big for their own britches: replacing cracked and split floor boards isn’t fun for anyone.

    However, if you want to take the guesswork out of knowing when your new Douglas fir (or any wood) is ready to be installed, use a moisture meter. Using one may help to prevent warping, shrinking, or splitting problems later on, giving you piece of mind now.

    And if you do go the moisture-meter route, be sure to read the instruction manual.

    - Nicole Morales

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, douglas fir trim, warping floors, douglas fir paneling, douglas fir decking, wood moisture meter

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