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Humidity Test Prior to Hard Wood Floors Installation  


The wood used in the manufacturing of hard wood floors now comes from all over the world. Just fifty years or so ago, most of the trees used for flooring can from the forests surrounding the manufacturing plant. The wood was rather acclimated to the area and the necessity of moisture testing was not a great as it is today. The various climates throughout the United States can cause problems with hard wood floors if moisture testing is not completed prior to installation.

In drier climates, the moisture content should be lower in the hardwood flooring before installation. It should be higher in wetter climates. The wood in real hardwood floors can expand, shrink, warp, or split if there is no acclimation of the wood before installation. You might have seen wood work or painting that has shrunk because the moisture content was too low in the home.

Types of Moisture Testing

There are many different types of handheld moisture testing meters available. The local home improvement store should carry quite a selection, but you can also find several different models online, too. Some moisture meters can test a variety of building materials, but there are meters specifically for testing wood. The meter should have different calibrations for different wood species. Specific gravity or the denseness of the wood will also play a part in determining what the actual moisture content is. 

If you don’t have access to one of these moisture meters, then you can do one very simple test on a concrete sub floor to determine if there is too much moisture. This test will cost you less than ten dollars. Cut out six pieces of poly film in two foot squares. Tape the edges securely to the concrete slab. Make sure there is a good seal. Leave the poly film sit for 24-48 hours and then remove it. If you can see a color change or there is any condensation, there are moisture issues that will have to be addressed before hard wood floors can be installed. A vapor barrier may be one answer to this problem, but it will be determined by the actual moisture level.

Other Tips

Proper moisture testing before, during, and after installation is as important as acclimating the hard wood floors to the jobsite. Most flooring manufacturers recommended that the relative humidity of the home should be about 40-55%. Humidity at higher percentages can cause swelling, shrinkage, buckling, or a host of other problems. Before you begin testing, you should discover what the normal moisture content is for the area. What is terrific for Texas may not be so good for Maine.

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