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Do You Need A Dehumidifier For Hardwood Floors?

Maintaining the right humidity is crucial for maintaining a hardwood floor, but do you need a dehumidifier for hardwood floors or will this lead to issues further down the line?

A dehumidifier is not normally necessary for hardwood floors, but it can be useful if you are trying to remove moisture from your floor due to problems like buckling and cupping. You can use a humidistat to monitor the levels of humidity before using a dehumidifier to make sure it is the right decision.

So, how should you know if you need a dehumidifier, and what situations are there where you should definitely not be using one? Let’s take a look through the pros and cons to help you decide when to use one and when to avoid it.

Benefits of Dehumidifiers for Hardwood Flooring

There are some great benefits to using dehumidifiers for hardwood if you know what you are doing.

Maintain Moisture Levels In Floor

Dehumidifiers reduce the humidity of the air inside the home which causes the wood to create a new equilibrium with the air by losing moisture. This loss of moisture causes the wood to shrink and decrease in size.

This is a benefit if you know how to do this properly to prevent or reverse cupping and buckling.

It is also worth knowing about this if you use a shower near hardwood floors and need to lower the humidity created from the shower. Although specific, this can be highly useful in flats and apartments.

Prevents Cupping and Buckling

Cupping and buckling occur when hardwood floors absorb moisture which causes the panels to change shape.

While buckling is on the extreme end of the spectrum, cupping is quite common and is characterised by U-shaped panels as the edges push upwards.

Learn all about cupping and how to prevent it here.

By using a dehumidifier you can reduce the chances of these things happening or reverse them in their early stages.

Drawbacks of Dehumidifiers for Hardwood Flooring

Despite the benefits of dehumidifiers, there are a lot of drawbacks as well that you need to be aware of before you use one.

Shrinking Panels

If you lower the humidity too much you can cause hardwood panels to shrink in size as they lose moisture to form an equilibrium with the moisture in the air. A key sign of this is gaps forming between panels, which also makes the floor susceptible to spills as fluid can enter through the gaps.

Wood Becomes More Brittle

As the wood becomes drier it also becomes more brittle.

Brittle wood is more prone to splintering and cracking under pressure. Structural damage like this is very hard to repair and usually requires replacement panels to put right, which can be quite expensive.

It can also be a safety hazard as some cracks of wood can not only be sharp but also easy to trip over.

Squeeking

Squeeking is not as serious as some of the other drawbacks mentioned, but it can get very annoying over time.

This happens as a result of the shrinkage of the panels and you may notice that it gets worse over time or more panels become affected by it.

Balancing Humidity

All a dehumidifier is doing is balancing the humidity in your home, but there is a fine line between too much moisture in the air and too little, especially when it comes to hardwood flooring.

Ideally, the humidity should be between 35% and 60%, but you can easily get outside of this range if you decide to use a device to alter it.

How To Decide Whether Or Not To Use A Dehumidifier

So, how can you tell when a dehumidifier is the right thing to use?

If you are experiencing cupping, buckling or any other sign of moisture content being absorbed into your hardwood floor then it is a good idea to try a dehumidifier for a couple of days to see if this has any impact.

In any other case, a dehumidifier can cause more problems for you than it will fix and it makes a lot of sense to first contact a professional for their opinion before using one. This is because you are likely to make a mistake and dry your floor out which comes with a lot of potential problems and fixes down the line.

Use A Humidistat

If you want to invest in a humidistat this is an easy way of quickly checking that the humidity is in the correct range.

By doing this you can monitor the humidity along with any symptoms of moisture content your floor might be showing. If the humidity is too high and cupping or buckling are happening then you can be certain that using a dehumidifier is the right thing to do whilst measuring the impact it has on humidity on a day to day basis.

Final Thoughts

Using a dehumidifier is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and in most cases, it can cause more harm than good for hardwood flooring.

The only way to be sure of using one, outside of personal experience, is to buy a humidistat to monitor the humidity of the air whilst looking for symptoms on a day to day basis. If you have experience using a dehumidifier then let us know how it went!