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Low humidity in home and the effects on engineered floors.

4 years ago

I have been looking at engineered wood flooring for a few months now. Having never had wood floors before, and seeing how freaking expensive they can be, I am taking my time and doing a LOT of research before I select a product. (For background - I live alone and have no pets; flooring will be in living and dining room, 500 sf.)

I have been collecting samples (most are sent free in the mail) from various companies, and so far only a couple really appeal to me. I am very particular about the color, and also about the finish, so I keep looking for "the one". And of course I just want a good product that will last - I don't want to ever have to replace this floor. I have read lots about humidity levels, and how it affects wood floors. There are many threads here from folks that are upset at the gaps in their floors.

My house stays fairly cool in the winter - I prefer that, and obviously it saves on the heating bill. Right now it is 69 temp, and RH is 33. This morning the RH was 32. I have been checking it every couple of days over the last couple of weeks and it has been between 32 and 38. But this has not been the coldest weather we have had, so I am sure that the RH went down into the 20's back in January when we had an entire week where temps never rose above the teens. Obviously, from what I have learned here, that is below most (if not all) flooring company's recommendations, and warranties. Since I have no intention of humidifying my home (I already run a dehumidifier in my crawlspace), I have been wondering if the "cupping" or gaps, would really matter. I'm nothing if not a realist. I have wood cabinets that move from the ceiling every winter and move back in the spring - and they have done this for 20-some years, with no ill effects. So why would a floor, exhibiting the same behavior, bother me?

Tonight I had a thought - if the floors would cup, would not the samples as well? So I took several of them, and placed them back-down on the flattest surface I have - my quartz counters. There are all wider plank samples - 5" or greater. Except for the Nydree samples, and one of the Craft samples, every other sample exhibited a slight rock. In fact, my favorite sample rocks the most. But you would not know it to look at them - they appear flat. It's only when you place them on the super flat quartz that you can see the edges are ever-so-slightly cupped.

I will not be making a decision on this floor, until warmer weather (and higher humidity) hits, so I will do another check then, just for my own curiosity. But I wanted to ask the flooring pros that hang out here - does it really matter? I mean, they will go right back to their former flatness when the RH changes, so...should that even be a factor in my decision process? I'm starting to think that this is just something I should not even be concerned about.

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