What to Expect with Seasonal Changes and Wide Plank Floors

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The Seasons Change and So Do We

Peaceful landscapes once whitewashed with snow, melt away to reveal vibrant spring buds and green pastures. Naked branches explode with leaves. Trees proudly stand tall despite their voluminous, top-heavy canopies. Autumn comes and Mother Nature sets the world on fire with brilliant fire reds and oranges that twinkle in the golden hour as sunlight cascades through the leaves. This bittersweet contrast between the seasons is what draws people to call the mountains of Colorado, the plains of New York, and the heart of New England their homes.

The Science of Seasonal Changes

Cherry hardwood flooring in a Wyoming living roomIf you have long hair and live in a place with seasonal variation you know the effects of heat and humidity firsthand. Once the summer comes and you step into the muggy air an uncontrollable burst of frizz, curls, and flyaway’s can spring from where a sleek, polished mane once existed. Ever wonder what effect that same humidity has on your floors?

Simply put, humidity is the amount of moisture in the air. Wood is a natural product that continually absorbs or releases moisture until it is balanced with its environment. If the atmosphere has high humidity, the wood will swell as it absorbs the moisture from the air and expands. If the atmosphere is very dry, the wood will give off moisture and shrink. It’s that whole “osmosis” thing your chemistry teacher talked about in junior high.

In the case of solid wood floors, wood expands primarily across the width of the board, not the length of the board. Boards will only get wider or narrower, never longer or shorter. But none of us want our floors to change as dramatically as our seasons do. We want them to remain as pristine and beautiful as they looked the first time they were installed. So how do you stay ahead of the seasons and minimize the tendency of your planks to move?

Take Control of Your Environment

The humidity outside has little impact on your floors as long as it is controlled within the walls of your home. Florida is infamous for its hot and sticky humidity levels because it is consistently humid, year-round. Floridians continued use of humidistats and air conditioning keeps the environment inside their buildings generally stable.

Dehumidifiers, heating/cooling units, and even fans can help promote stability in the environment. A Hygrometer or humidity monitor is an excellent tool to keep an eye on the humidity levels within your home. The most important thing to remember is that wood thrives in stable environments. Don’t shock your boards by aggressively spinning the dial on the thermostat when you crank the heat up twenty degrees. Don’t blast the air conditioner on high at the first threat of warmer weather. Just like our bodies respond to severe temperature swings with feelings of discomfort and pain, our floors respond to dramatic humidity swings by moving. They seek relief from the environment when they are not slowly acclimated to the change.

Prefinished walnut and white oak hardwood floors

Tried and True

As Benjamin Franklin pointed out, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” Carlisle’s world class Artisans take the time to get it right.

All our floors include:

  • Floors crafted from hand selected, mature timber reserves
  • Boards cut from the most stable part of those logs
  • A combination of air and kiln drying prior to handcrafting
  • Continued review by Artisans who meticulously examine each board to maximize their beauty
  • Each plank passes between twenty pairs of hands as the boards are crafted from scratch

Time it Right

Wet trades, such as pouring the foundation/concrete, mudding the walls, or painting can affect the humidity in the environment. These processes should be complete and cured before the floors are brought into the home so that the boards do not absorb unnecessary moisture. Once there is no risk of finish work adversely affecting the wood, any heating or cooling systems should be turned on and gradually increased until they are at the ideal comfort level for the homeowner. It is critical that these systems are not only turned on, but are given proper time to stabilize to the true “live in conditions” which the home will be kept.

Acclimate

Wood is a living thing, it breathes and takes on moisture and releases it. Acclimation is the period of time that allows the planks to sit on site and give off or take on moisture, as it adapts to the new environment. Every acclimation timeframe will vary from the next as each environment is different. A qualified builder and/or installer can do the proper moisture tests between the subfloor and the flooring planks to determine an appropriate time to begin installation.

Siamese cats on a white oak hardwood floor


Installation is an Art and the Artist Matters

Installation is an art and the installer is the artist. The trained eye, experienced hands and trusted craftsmanship of the right installer — or lack thereof — will make or break an install. The installer will determine everything from laying out the planks, to strategically placing visually striking boards in prominent areas, to orienting the planks so that they run the length of a room and naturally draw the eye to architectural features in the room. Your vision should be entrusted into an installer who is both rich with technical expertise and who knows the value of taking proper measurements. The right installer will execute your vision and bring your floors to life.

Floors Speak Louder Than Words

Carlisle has installed floors all over the world, from properties in Kuwait to Kauai to Kentucky. We believe actions speak louder than words, which is why we’d like you to hear it from our clients themselves. Browse these projects to learn how these clients navigated their flooring journeys and pursued the floors of their dreams.

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If the time is right and you’re ready to get started designing your dream floor, browse our trending favorite floors for inspiration or contact us for a design consultation to discuss your project and we’ll get started hand crafting custom made samples uniquely for you.
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