Seasonal Changes in Timber Flooring

Seasonal changes in timber flooring

When you think about preparing for summer or any type of weather event, your floors might be the last thing on your mind. However, environmental temperature and humidity can have consequences for your timber floors. Australia is renowned for its varying and sometimes extreme weather, so managing the impact on your flooring is very important.

Seasonal changes in timber flooring refers to the varying thermal stresses on the flooring from season to season. With correct maintenance and installation, the effects of seasonal variation can be limited to ensure the longevity of your valuable timber floors.

Hardwood timber is a natural product and thus is suspectable to changes in moisture, humidity, and temperature. Species of timber and installation methods play vital roles in the potential changes the flooring is susceptible to. Depending on the flooring, seasonal variation can mean various things, including shrinkage or expansion of the individual floorboards, cupping or crowning of the floorboards, and squeaking of the floorboards while under load. Below is a list of our top tips and things to consider for managing and maintaining your timber floors to limit any potential damage due to seasonal variation.

Timber Acclimatisation

Acclimatisation is the process of allowing the unsealed timber to equalise moisture levels with the environment in which it is to be installed. Acclimatisation generally involves storing the timber to be installed on-site for a period of time. The length of time can range from days to weeks, until the moisture content of the timber matches that of the room it is to be laid in. Failure to acclimate the timber prior to installation may result in rapid expansion or contraction of the flooring post installation. It is important to note that some timbers may not need to be acclimated, depending on species of timber and moisture level recorded in the timber prior to laying.

If you are unsure whether your timber needs acclimating or for how long, speak to our in-store experts. When you get your flooring installed by Back to Timber, we take care of the acclimatisation process, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Correct Installation

Installation is a critical factor in mitigating the effects of seasonal variation in hardwood timber flooring. Trusting an experienced installer such as Back To Timber ensures that all your flooring is installed to meet, if not exceed, the manufacturer’s installation guides. This can include specific types of glue that allow for seasonal movement. Using the correct fixings will minimise squeaking during periods of shrinkage, such as during the winter months.

Installing timber floors

Floor Finishing

Sealing your new floors with one of Back To Timber’s recommended sealers is a great way to ensure your timber floors not only look fantastic but also withstand the variety of seasonal changes experienced in Australia. Both water-based and polyurethane-based floor sealers help minimise the effects of seasonal variation, acting as a barrier to moisture and humidity level variation. A good sealer will help reduce rapid changes in moisture and humidity, which in turn prevents expansion and shrinkage of the timber flooring.

Some timber floors come pre-finished. If this is the case, we recommend that you check with the manufacturer that your flooring is prepared for the Australian climate. All of our pre-finished timbers at Back to Timber are of the highest quality and suitable for Australian conditions.

Subfloor Preparation

Prior to installation, it is essential to ensure that the subfloor moisture levels are stable and within tolerances as per the manufacturer’s specifications. For concrete slabs, especially if new, moisture levels must be checked throughout the slab to ensure that it is thoroughly dried out. Ensuring the slab is dry will not only prevent excessive movement in the timber but will ensure proper adhesion of the fixings and glue. Where climate extremes are expected, subfloor preparation may also include subfloor insulation (timber subframe) to minimise the climate extremes affecting the timber flooring. A level floor is vital as any seemingly minor issue with an even subfloor will be exacerbated by seasonal variations. A Back To Timber specialist will be able to identify any potential problems prior to installation and advise what needs to be done.

Levelling timber floors

Cleaning Timber Floors

Although not directly related to seasonal variation, the damage caused by incorrect cleaning can sometimes be similar in nature to seasonal variation. It is important that appropriate cleaning methods are used for your flooring. Steam mopping, for example, can mimic the effects of high humidity and due to the rapid change in moisture and temperature, damage can be noticed much sooner.

For a detailed guide on correct hardwood cleaning procedures check out our article on Sanitising and Cleaning Timber Floors. Alternatively, our knowledgeable team are happy to answer any questions regarding cleaning your new floors.

Still have questions? Our experts live and breathe flooring, we can answer questions you have and help you decide on a new flooring that best suits your individual needs. Contact us or pop into one of our showrooms located in Gladesville, Chatswood, Mosman, and coming soon to Five Dock!

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