Hardwood flooring is timeless classic that is often loved by all, regardless of the design style. Primary reason being is that Hardwood flooring can complement any style setting. Homeowners often get satisfaction from ripping up their less than perfect carpet only to find lovely hardwood flooring hidden underneath. Those not blessed with hidden hardwoods are not left out. It is easy for homeowners determined to have their very own beautiful hardwood flooring to shop online or at their favorite local flooring store.
If you are considering a flooring remodel project involving hardwood flooring, it is important to keep in mind that protecting the floor from moisture or moisture vapor is essential to the longevity of the life of the floor. It is safe to say that no homeowner wants their beautiful wood floors ruined. So what’s the best way to protect hardwood floors from moisture? Well, like most things, it depends on the situation.
The Importance of the Sub Floor
A strong deciding factor in what sort of moisture barrier will best protect hardwood flooring is what sort of sub floor the hardwood is being attached to. The type of sub flooring determines what kind of hardwood can be installed. When considering the sub floor, you also have to consider whether it is below, on or above grade.
Concrete Sub Floors:
Concrete sub flooring is trickier than wood. For concrete, the moisture should be tested and be less than 4% year-round. Concrete sub floors are typically best paired with engineered hardwoods. An impermeable plastic sheath is most commonly recommended by manufacturers for hardwood over concrete installations.
Wood Sub Floors:
Unlike concrete sub flooring, it is not recommended to use plastic sheathing with wood sub floors. Doing so may actually trap moisture, promote mold growth, and eventually cause sub floor rotting. When installing wood flooring on a plywood subfloor, generally either engineered or solid hardwood flooring is acceptable. Most commonly, roofing paper is used as the only moisture barrier between wood subfloor and hardwood flooring.
Consequences of Improper Protection
When considering whether or not a moisture barrier is necessary (hint: they are), it’s important to consider the consequences of not using one or not using them right now. Moisture barriers are there to protect the hardwood and, in the case of plywood sub flooring, the subfloor.
Not properly protecting hardwood flooring can lead to mold growth and sub floor rot. Not using a moisture barrier frequently voids the manufacturer’s warranty, as well. So, it’s always important to check with the manufacturer before installation. Other results of improper protection include cupping, buckling, and warping boards.
Protecting Hardwood Flooring After Installation
Protecting hardwood flooring from moisture doesn’t end with installation. It’s important to always be aware of the damaging effect water and moisture can have on hardwood flooring, even after it is installed. For example, when cleaning use only approved hardwood cleaning solutions (not soap and water). Also, clean up spills and leaks right away. Not doing so could potentially lead to black edges, gapping, and discoloration.
Protecting hardwood flooring from moisture during installation and after will keep them in good shape for years to come. Always consult the manufacturer to avoid voiding your warranty.
Bio – This guest post was contributed by MacDonald Hardwoods of Denver, CO. Macwoods offers a variety of services for your floors from installation to flooring equipment rentals to do it yourself classes