Humidity is a part of the scheme of nature. While for some, humidity is something which makes you sweat, it also has many other powers, such as with hardwood floors.
In a very dry climate, such as in a desert, the lack of humidity in the air makes things brittle over time. This is true of papers, books, and hardwood floors, too. While dry air is great for people with sinus problems, it's not so great for hardwood floors.
Wood, like most things in nature, expands and contracts slightly in various temperatures and humidity levels. Everything, from steel rails on railroads, to cement roads expand in heat. So do hardwood floors, as humidity/moisture is absorbed into the wood, the wood expands slightly. When that moisture is removed, the wood contracts, as does the steel rail or cement in a road or driveway.
Good hardwood floors are a work of art, and the installation of these floors is as well-planned as any battle plan. The ideal hardwood floor looks the same at all of the edges against a wall, not some edges showing full boards, and others showing only partial boards. This is accomplished by the same method as laying tile - starting in the middle of the room and working equally towards all sides. No two boards will ever by side-by-side and end or begin at the same point. Everything will be staggered if done properly, creating a pleasing-to-the eye pattern.
When a floor is properly laid, certain temperature and humidity variations will be accounted for, and individual boards may slightly expand and contract. If extremes take place, such as too much humidity, then hardwood floor can "buckle," or have spots where the boards are being slightly pushed up by other expanding boards. This is not only unsightly, but can cause safety problems, too.
When there is not enough humidity, that same floor can contract and gaps become larger, creating spaces for dirt and dust to accumulate and make the floor difficult to clean and properly maintain.
Think of your beautiful hardwood floors like you would a fine piece of wood furniture. It must be nurtured, polished, and protected from the extreme elements of nature. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right. A well-maintained hardwood floor can last more than a century, and be a focal point for any modern home for its beauty, design, and longevity.
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