We are very happy to introduce our Hardwood Flooring Information and Installation Guidelines. Following our recommendations will greatly reduce your call backs, and lessen the number of unhappy customers.
Walking the tight rope on every job is not necessary. Simply following our guidelines and passing on the valuable information to your new homeowner will greatly reduce your risk of falling.
Greg and I are certified NWFA Floor Inspectors. When people have an issue with their hardwood flooring (not purchased from Gaylord) they visit www.nwfa.org and contact an inspector in their area. They will contact Greg or myself, and want us to perform an inspection. Being busy running our business, we usually listen to the concerns and explain to them that their issue is normal. We tell them how to correct the situation; and the people thank us. However, occasionally people want a full report; in which case we charge between $700 and $1000. We create a report, compiling all of the contributing scientific facts relating to the issue. If the customer escalates the situation and it turns into legal action, we become the “Expert Witness” and our report is very important.
However, when we have an issue with one of our own floors and explain the same information to builders and homeowners, it is not accepted with the same credibility as the independent inspections we do, which is not fair to us. How can we go from the “Expert Witness” status, to the person that isn’t trusted because it is their product? My point is: the advice we give is very professional and doesn’t change, whether it is or isn’t our hardwood flooring.
We take what we do very seriously and are always upgrading our knowledge base. It is basic simple science. The information is very clear and we are very willing to answer any questions that arise. If you are a builder who is switching to laminate because you are having too many issues with hardwood, it is very likely that you are not following our recommendations. NWFA statistics show that 78% of problems are in newly constructed homes in which 95% are moisture related. The simple solution is to follow our recommendations to get through the new home stage. Laminate is a very short term solution while hardwood will last over 100 years.
Unfortunately, most people selling hardwood flooring are unable to give the necessary professional advice and whenever there is an issue, they pass the problems back to the distributor, who passes them back to the manufacturer and nobody takes the responsibility; you are left with the problem.
Our goal is to produce the best possible product, manufactured within very strict tolerances; above and beyond industry and Tarion standards. At Gaylord, there is a great feeling of pride putting our name on a product that was manufactured and installed by your team. This manual will demonstrate how committed we are in what we do. Please look at us as a partner and professional flooring consultants who will make your job easier and more profitable.
At Gaylord’s your order is specially made for you, so the measure is very important. When the customer performs the site measure, there will be “No Returns”, plus a $350 set up fee if you run short and need more material. Measure the exact footage and add on the recommended waste for the job. The waste factor will be affected by the product used, as well as the size of the rooms. Large rooms create less waste than small rooms; hallways create more waste. Patterns and running on angles create more waste, as well. Please ask, and we will assist you with any questions regarding the waste. If you are having a Gaylord Professional Install we take the measure worry away and are completely responsible.
Every Hardwood Floor is Custom Made
The square footage on your order is the target number we shoot for during production. This footage will likely change, as we put extra material on the production line to accommodate for pieces that don’t pass our strict quality control process. This extra material will not exceed your original order by more than 2%. Most competitors will suggest adding a waste factor of 10% instead of our normal 5%. In a case where you have material left over, instead of being upset you must realize that you had less waste because of our superior quality. Had you gone with a competitor, you would have had to purchase much more material and possibly run short. It is not fair to punish us for having a great product with less waste.
Often times, closets and landings will be forgotten. As we know, many changes can occur with a floor plan; customers use tile instead of hardwood or vice versa; areas get larger or smaller. When this happens, we need to be notified BEFORE the flooring is produced. Be sure to install the main most visual areas of the house first, leaving the closets to the end, in case you do not have enough material. Wood is a natural product and may vary from one batch to another, so running out in a very visual area creates a reason for the customer to not be happy, as the new boards may not be a perfect match. If you feel you may run out, do not use your last box until you get the new material. This way the new material can be feathered in with the existing floor, making it less noticeable.
The Importance of Ordering Slightly More Hardwood Flooring
Having an extra box of flooring available for future repairs is a good idea. Most damage to hardwood flooring occurs during the construction and move-in stage. Be sure dishwasher, fridge and washing machine hoses are securely fastened to prevent water leaks that will cause severe damage.
At the time of the site measure, please include any accessory pieces (bullnose, reducers, T-moulds, spline) as well as the number and sizes of vents; they are all custom made for the job. Vents ordered with the flooring will be finished on the line to be an exact match to the flooring. Vents ordered after the flooring is produced will be finished by hand and will not be perfect. Having all of the material at the jobsite at the same time will prevent unnecessary delays in completing the installation.
Accurate Flooring Measurements Ensure a Smooth Installation
Please take the time to make an accurate measure, including all material needed for the job. We make enough material for the job and very seldom have extra material. Producing another box of flooring can take up to two weeks, while doing it the first time takes an additional 2 minutes; not to mention all of the stress created and wasted time.
When the measure is wrong and more flooring is needed, the installer who did the measurement usually does not accept the responsibility and quickly blames the quality of the wood such as: we shipped less product than we billed for, as the reason for running out which is very unfair to our company. When this happens we quickly go to the house and do a measure and in most cases the original measure was incorrect. We want to avoid this as it causes unnecessary stress www.gaylordhardwoodflooring.com Rev 02.14 between the homeowner, installer and ourselves. If a third party person is doing the measure, be sure to stress the importance of the measure and make them responsible. If visiting our showroom ask for a complimentary calculator.
Each floor is custom made for the individual customer so we want to get it right the first time and have everybody happy.
Thank you for choosing Gaylord. The success of your job is very important to us. If you have any questions please contact us at email@example.com
Here is a link to our video “Measure Twice, Order Once”: Click Her
Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a National Wood Flooring Association seminar entitled “Understanding Relative Humidity in Your Home”. The seminar was very informative and I will share the information with you.
Being in the Northeast Region, we are exposed to extremely cold dry winters and very humid summers. Without any humidity control, the same house with extreme spaces between the boards in the heating season, could become cupped in the high humidity of the summer.
Water vapor is a gas, it will fill any space; however, other forces such as air movement, due to temperature stratification, have a strong effect on the dispersion of humidity. Normal living conditions are considered 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-24 C) with a relative humidity between 30-50%. This is the range that is best for your health which is also best for your wood flooring.
The Optimal Humidity Level for Human Health
The Human Health chart, pictured below, clearly shows the effects of below 30% and above 50% Relative Humidity for bacteria, viruses, respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis and asthma problems. If you have pets, and let your RH get above 50%, it is almost certain that you will have dust mites. Although not visible they are there feeding daily on flakes of skin from humans and pets.
Signs of dust mites include sneezing, runny nose, and signs of asthma such as wheezing and difficulty breathing. They cannot exist in humidity levels below 50%. A study in 2000 found that more than 45% of American homes had detectable dust mite levels associated with the development of allergies, and 23% had bedding with concentrations of allergens high enough to trigger asthma attacks. I am getting itchy just thinking about these creatures.
In the past, I was only concerned with the humidity levels inside the home because that is where our product would be, I just assumed the outside air came inside and became inside air. What I did not realize was the amazing effect temperature has on humidity and as a result, hardwood flooring. The upcoming illustrations will make this much easier to understand.
When the Air is Too Dry for Hardwood Flooring
The below slide is a typical winter day with an outside temperature of 10 F (-12 C) and RH of 70%. When this air enters the house and is heated to 70 F (21 C) the RH drops to a shocking 6%. As I am writing this article I see the outside temperature is -11 F (-24 C) which would make the RH of the reheated air almost nothing. As the temperature drops your heating system is running more frequently which makes it impossible to keep your humidity between our 30-50% without adding moisture to the environment.
Long stretches of cold weather and not adding moisture back into the house is not only damaging to your solid or engineered hardwood flooring but it effects all wood products and any wood products attached to them such as crown moulding, baseboard, countertops, cabinet doors, etc.
Examples of When Hardwood Flooring is Too Dry
Removing nearly all the moisture from the wood can stress the wood beyond its limitations especially the poor quality engineered wood manufactured offshore. Some situations where boards have shrunk and developed spaces will correct themselves when moisture is added back into the home.
Other issues such as cracks in the boards or caulking that has separated will not usually correct themselves. When manufacturing our products, we must consider the movement of the wood as well as the movement of the finish. With our engineered flooring we must consider three products that must move together, the plywood, the wood and the finish. Inside the 30-50% RH normal minor issues may occur, but the further outside of the preferred RH range the more problems are almost certain to occur. Wood will behave like wood.
When the Air is Too Humid for Hardwood Flooring
We have spent most of our time talking about cold air being heated and RH dropping. When warm humid air is cooled the RH rises 2.2% for each 1 degree Fahrenheit. In a crawl space, the moisture comes from two sources; the ground and the outside air. The soil will wick moisture, through capillary action, from moist to dry areas. Water does very little to ruin a home with a dirt crawl space as it seldom touches any of the joists, sill plates, girders or insulation. It is the water vapor that causes the wood to mold and rot. Condensation makes everything wet which will stimulate mold to grow and wood to rot.
Crawl Spaces and the Effect on your Home
Crawl spaces are typically dark, damp and cool. We will look at an example of a typical summer day in the Northeastern region. Outside air at 80F degrees with a RH of 70% enters into a 64F crawl space. Let’s look at the numbers. 80F- 64F=16 x 2.2=35.2% rise in humidity; 70% plus 35.3%= 105.3% RH. We can’t have over 100% humidity because the air can’t hold more than 100% as it has reached its capacity. This air will then condense on the cold surfaces causing the air to give up its moisture as the relative humidity has reached its capacity to hold moisture. Condensation will form on the heating/cooling ducts, the water pipes, the block walls, the joists and the bottom of subfloor. The moisture in the subfloor will migrate up into the hardwood flooring causing it to cup, crack and sometimes buckle.
I have used a crawl space as the example but it is similar in basements if the conditions are created. Quite often people open basement windows to get rid of the stale air. With the same outside conditions as the above example (80 degrees F and 70% RH) with a basement temperature of 70F and RH of 40% here is what happens when not factoring in the higher outside humidity coming in: 80F-70F=10 x 2.2=22.2% rise in RH which will bring the new RH to 62% which is out of our recommended range. If you notice a smell in your basement or on things stored in your basement you most likely have a moisture problem. I suggest getting it under control by closing your basement windows and operating an appropriate size dehumidifier to remove this moisture; also there is a Humidex system that I am researching that seems quite simple and the company claims it will do a better job than a dehumidifier and would be less expensive to operate. Getting the humidity under control will lessen the odours.
In the above picture the mold was not visible until the drywall was removed from the wall. In a new home the concrete will release moisture for 1.5 to 2 years. This picture illustrates how the wood has absorbed the moisture from the concrete and drawn it up into the space. With this additional moisture and no air movement, the mold thrives.
The below chart shows how many gallows of water are needed to be added to a home in order to maintain the minimum 30% relative humidity at 75o F (24o C). Tight homes are new homes that are built with today’s standards.
You likely don’t go down into your crawlspace unless you absolutely have to because of the damp musty smell. If you think that by shutting the door you have left that environment behind you are terribly wrong; due to the “Stack Effect” up to 50% of the air you breathe in your home comes from the crawl space.
The circulation in your home allows for up to 70% of the air you breathe to come from the basement. If your basement has a musty smell, this is not healthy to breathe as the health chart (discussed earlier) indicates. The musty smell is the result of the off gassing of the developing mold.
As the above chart indicates, the higher the quality of your windows, the less heat loss and condensation you will have.
Relative Humidity and Hardwood Flooring Summary
Wood shrinks when exposed to low humidity and expands when exposed to high humidity. In the Northeastern Region we have very dry winters and humid summers, so it is important to control the humidity through humidification and dehumidification in order to keep yourself and your floors healthy.
Damp air takes more energy to heat and cool, so spending money to get rid of the dampness in a crawl space or basement will pay for itself not to mention the health benefits that can’t be measured.
Engineered flooring handles high humidity better than solid hardwood but fails when exposed to dry conditions more than solid. Solid will shrink as a whole, while the top layer of solid wood on the engineered will shrink more than the plywood base causing the surface layer to crack.
Much of the air that you breathe is coming from your crawl space or basement. Odors and mold activity in the crawl space or basement are warning signs that your entire home may be making you sick.
The amount of moisture the air can hold increases as the temperature rises and decreases as the temperature cools. During the heating season with long stretches of cold temperatures, not adding humidity to your home will be harmful to your health as well as your floor. Please watch our Heat Recovery Ventilation video: https://youtu.be/lXAmshK9OtM
Window panes are usually the coldest surfaces in your home, which is where condensation will appear first. As the chart shows, lower quality windows with high heat loss are the first to show condensation. High quality windows will show condensation at much lower temperature due to less heat loss.
Solid wood flooring will perform best when the interior environment is controlled to stay within a relative humidity range of 30% to 50% and a temperature range between 16 and 25 degrees Celsius. Engineered wood flooring will perform best when the interior environment is controlled to within a relative humidity range of 35% to 55% and a temperature range between 16 and 25 Celsius. Fortunately, that’s the same range most humans enjoy. The chart below indicates the moisture content that wood will likely have with long term exposure to any given temperature and humidity. Note that the equilibrium moisture contents in the recommended temperature/humidity range (shaded area) coincide with the 6% to 9% range in which we manufacture our hardwood flooring. Although some movement can be expected even between 6% and 9%, wood can expand and shrink dramatically outside of that range.
As mentioned above hardwood flooring enjoys the same humidity conditions as humans. New homes are built to be energy efficient and as a result become too air tight. Homeowners do not know how to operate and maintain the mechanical systems causing bad air in the house. Breathing problems are one of the main reasons for visits to Hospital Emergency Rooms in North America. As you can see on the “Humidity and your Health” chart below it is ideal for health purposes to keep humidity levels as close to 40% as possible. If you have pets and your humidity is above 50% it is almost guaranteed you have dust mites in your home. If you or your family seem to always have colds in the winter months it is likely caused from the low humidity and quality of air in your home.
The Science Behind Wood Movement
Understanding that solid wood moves 50 times more widthwise than it will lengthwise, going lengthwise into tile is not an issue; however widthwise it is very important.
The numbers on the accompanying chart reflect the dimensional change coefficient for various species, measured as tangential shrinkage or swelling within normal moisture content limits.
The dimensional change coefficient can be used to calculate expected shrinking or swelling. Simply multiply the change in moisture content by the change coefficient, and then multiply by the width of the board. Example: A red oak (Change coefficient .00369) board 5” wide experiences a moisture change from 6% to 9% - a change of 3 percentage points.
Growing Hardwood Flooring Boards
How much can temperature and humidity affect the dimensions of a hardwood floor? Take a look at the same 5” oak board.
Within “Normal Living Conditions” (say, an interior temperature of 70 degrees and a relative humidity of 40%), the board has a moisture content of 7.7 % and is 5” wide.
If the relative humidity falls to 20%, the moisture content of the board will be 4.5%, and the same 5” board will shrink by .0059” (thickness of a toonie). Across 10 feet of flooring, that could translate to as much as 1.4” of shrinkage.
If the humidity rises to 65%, the board’s moisture content would be 12% and the same 5” board would expand by .079”. Across 10’ of flooring, this could translate to 1.9” of expansion which would likely cause severe cupping.
Evaluate the jobsite for potential problems before installation begins, and before wood flooring is delivered to the jobsite; taking pictures of unacceptable jobsite conditions, recording humidity levels and moisture contents of subfloor throughout the installation.
Upon failed site conditions; Gaylord Hardwood Flooring will require a signed waiver form indicating failed conditions before proceeding with delivery and/or installation. Gaylord Hardwood Flooring accepts no responsibility for any future hardwood issues related to failed jobsite conditions. This includes the ambient temperature and relative humidity at the time of installation and all variables that affect the long term success of the job.
Things to do before your hardwood flooring is delivered
Surface drainage should direct away from the building.
Heating, air conditioning, and dehumidification systems must be operating before, during and after the installation. If it is not possible for these permanent systems to be operating, temporary systems must be set up to mimic a temperature of between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity between 30% and 50% for solid wood and between 35% and 55% for engineered wood. Notes: 1. Electric portable heaters excessively dry out the area closest to them. Propane heaters add moisture to the area which can work against already high moisture conditions. Kerosene heaters add an oily film to the floor which makes it more difficult to clean and prevents glue from bonding to concrete.
In new home construction a dehumidifier that removes 8-10 gallons per day is required. Anything less will not remove the moisture quickly enough. The dehumidifier should always be set up in the basement which is the largest source of moisture. It is best to draw the moisture down from the subfloor. I would suggest the dehumidifier be set up as close to the middle of the basement as possible, draining into an enclosed sump hole. A couple of fans blowing towards the dehumidifier will ensure more consistent drying results.
Do not deliver wood flooring to the jobsite or install wood flooring until these temperature and humidity conditions are achieved and the subfloor is within 2% of the wood flooring. Surface drainage should direct water away from the building. All concrete, masonry, plastering, drywall, texturing and painting must be completed. Note: 1. A newly constructed home may contain more than 1 gallon of water per square foot of home. A 2000 square foot home could have up to 2300 gallons of water; which will be absorbed by the wood flooring if not removed during the construction and newly occupied stages. The quick removal of the majority of this moisture is instrumental to the success of the wood flooring job. As a builder or installer you may have created the perfect conditions (40% relative humidity and a subfloor moisture content within 2% of the hardwood) to proceed with the installation, but you need to understand that the moisture in the walls, concrete etc. will be absorbed by the air; and subsequently by the subfloor and wood flooring. Without continued removal of this moisture, these perfect conditions will quickly deteriorate, resulting in a problem floor in the future.
Is it realistic to think these subfloors will be within 2% of the wood flooring without operating a dehumidifier?
BASEMENT CEILINGS MUST NOT BE FINISHED UNTIL THE SUBFLOOR AND JOISTS ARE WITHIN 2% MOISTURE CONTENT OF THE HARDWOOD FLOORING. If the moisture is not removed, it remains trapped between the subfloor and basement ceiling; causing the hardwood floor to cup and crack over the long term. With little or no air flow, the trapped moisture is drawn upwards to the drier hardwood floor. This process is very slow and can take 3 years or more, as the moisture has to travel through the underlayment, the wood flooring, and the finish to exit.
Basements and crawl spaces must be dry. Crawl spaces should be a minimum of 18” from the ground to the underside of the joists. Crawl space earth (or thin concrete slab) should be covered 100% by avapour retarder of black polyethylene (minimum 6 mil) overlapping a minimum of 6”. There are many variations of crawl space conditions. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.
Ensure that the flooring selected is suitable for the grade level. Solid hardwood flooring can be installed on-grade and above-grade only on a wood-based subfloor. Engineered hardwood can be installed above-grade, on-grade and below-grade over wood-based subfloor and concrete.
Radiant heating systems must be on and running for at least 7 days prior to installation. Moisture test of the concrete must be taken. For more info please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.