Winter in northern, mountain and central areas brings more than the freezing temperatures.
As the atmosphere cools down, the air loses moisture. Cold and arid days push outdoor humidity levels into the single digits causing days or even weeks to be at 20% RH or less. Consequently, we turn on the heaters and fireplaces, creating dry indoor conditions.
With low humidity outdoors and indoors, is it possible these conditions are drier than the Sahara Desert?
It is – the average humidity in one of the hottest places on earth is only 25% according to this reference.
For areas that are dry and cold during the winter, if you don’t increase your home’s humidity, you could be living in a drier environment than the Sahara. And these are no conditions for a hardwood floor!
Ever considered why there are so few trees in the Sahara? Trees need to absorb moisture from their surrounding environment. When the environment is dry, trees release moisture. As this happens, wood contracts from losing moisture. In humid environments, the tree will absorb moisture and expand.
Same thing happens with wood floors!
When wood floors get wet, they get wider. When they dry out, they retract. This seasonal expansion and contraction cycle is a natural process mimicking trees.
And when they’re Sahara Desert dry, you’re bound to have problems. Keep reading for why winter and wood floors can be a problmetic pair.