When you install new hardwood flooring, you might expect a few changes as you get back to your daily routine. Still, you might not be prepared for the ways in which your new hardwood flooring will change over the years.
Many things can impact not only its appearance, but also the way it functions as well.
Hardwood flooring can change color
When most people install hardwood flooring, they gravitate towards adding rugs for both care and aesthetics. What surprises people is when they move the rug a few months later, and the floor underneath is visibly a different color.
Hardwood flooring darkens when exposed to ultraviolet, natural, and infrared light. When these three types of light interact with your hardwood finish, the color gradually changes. The planks receiving a daily blast of light will darken over time. The hardwood covered by rugs or furnishing will remain the color as installed.
How quickly hardwood changes color depends on the species of hardwood installed. Some respond faster to UV radiation and will darken at a faster pace. Red Oak remains a popular choice because it adjusts hue at a slower rate than other wood. Consider this carefully when finalizing which hardwood to install, especially if you have a lot of direct sunlight flowing into your home. Most hardwood will start changing in as little as three weeks, so it’s worth extra consideration before you install.
Hardwood flooring can change with the weather
Sunlight is something all Coloradoans have to think about. The harsh rays don’t go away when fall sets in. Sunshine can stream through your windows throughout the year.
Temperatures and weather patterns also impact wood, but even more discerning are humidity changes.
When a tree is alive and growing, sap deep inside the tree forms columns throughout each branch and the tree trunk, providing nutrients to the tree. Once it’s cut down and processed, those tiny columns remain ingrained in the wood. Those structures allow hardwood planks to expand and contract depending on inside conditions.
Manufacturers recommend hardwood flooring to remain at an inside humidity level between 35 and 55 percent. When temperatures increase and moisture dries up, it can cause shrinkage in the wood structure. When temperatures drop and moisture increases, expansion causes the wood planks to grow.
But it’s not always true that colder temperatures, along with rain or snow, will automatically expand hardwood flooring. Here in Colorado, cold winter days mean your furnace runs more frequently. And if that dries out the inside air supply, it can cause your hardwood flooring to shrink.
Long-term exposure to either can lead to devastating results with the aesthetics of your hardwood flooring. If the planks weren’t adequately acclimated to your home’s environment before installation, that expansion or contraction could start almost immediately after installation.
Caring for your hardwood flooring over time
Head outside in the spring and notice trees popping into life. You can watch them grow and change, budding, offering shade, producing fruit, and finally losing their leaves to hibernate for the winter.
Even after a tree has gone through the manufacturing process and is installed as hardwood planks inside your home, it still morphs and changes depending on the environment around it. That’s why it’s a good idea to be proactive in your maintenance schedule to ensure a long life for your hardwood flooring.
Spring in the Rockies means harsh changes in the weather. You can have 70 degree days with sunlight streaming in, followed by a blizzard later that evening. Tracking in ice and moisture can be hard on hardwood in the entryway, especially if it puddles up and stands in place for any length of time. Leaving a boot tray at the front door can be a handy way to ask people to remove their shoes and avoid the outside from being tracked in.
Summer can bring hot, dry weather to the Front Range, causing your inside environment to become more dehydrated. Invest in a hygrometer to keep you informed about inside humidity levels. If you aren’t running your air conditioner frequently, it’s good to have a humidifier if your inside environment becomes too dry.
Fall can bring the same changes as spring weather. Keep dirt and debris to a minimum as you request shoe removal by the front door. Because you may be using the air conditioner and furnace all on the same day, it’s important to pay attention to humidity levels. Consider using your humidifier to regulate inside levels at all times.
Winter brings added risk by tracking in ice and snow. Running your furnace every day can also cause the inside air to dry out. Homeowners often install whole-house humidifiers to ensure their homes are at a consistent 35 to 55 percent humidity level year-round.
Cleaning your hardwood is an ongoing process. Use a soft broom to keep dust and debris to a minimum. Vacuum once a week to ensure a clean surface. Avoid using harsh chemicals that could penetrate the finish. Never allow cleaning products to sit on the surface and puddle for extended periods of time. Water and moisture are not hardwood flooring’s friends.
Hardwood flooring aging … evenly
Hardwood flooring can be quite an investment, especially if you’re remodeling and changing other parts of your house. Many homeowners install hardwood flooring one room at a time, hoping to create flow-through over time.
This works well for your budget. Yet if this is your strategy, keep in mind that the first room may have shifted in color and texture over time. While the change might be slight, depending on your maintenance schedule, they may be far enough apart to block out the ability to notice the change. It’s still something to be aware of if you have a timeline for installing hardwood flooring over a several year timespan.
Is hardwood flooring right for you?
Whether you’re considering adding one room of hardwood at a time, or will be adding hardwood flooring throughout your home, being prepared for how it reacts to everyday living will help you enjoy the results even more.
Stop by today and see our complete selection of hardwood flooring. You’ll love the results.