Essential to any successful wood flooring installation is having the correct site conditions in place before the timber floor is fitted.
Relative humidity of the subfloor
Vitally important to all wood floor projects is the importance of measuring the relative humidity of the subfloor that the wood flooring is going to be fitted onto. Regardless of whether it is a cementanious or a wooden subfloor if this aspect is not considered the results could be catastrophic.
Wet or damp subfloors are possibly the cause of most wood floor failures. Measurements are taken using a humidity box or Protimeter for wooden subfloors. Depending on the readings that are attained will determine when the wood floor can be fitted or if there is any subfloor preparation that will need to be carried out such as applying damp proof membranes etc.
Moisture content of timber flooring
Most manufacturers of wood flooring produce there products with a moisture content of between 9 and 11%.This actually means that approximately 10% of the wood is water. This amount of water content is suitable for homes and dwellings in the British Isles.
Where homes are heated with underfloor heating this is normally reduced to around 6-8%.It should never be assumed that the moisture content of any wood flooring product is correct and hammer and probe tests should be carried out on the wood flooring before it is installed and on delivery.
Relative humidity of the air
Equally important to successful wood flooring installation is the relative humidity of the air in the building or room that the wood flooring is to be fitted. Throughout the seasons the UK has large swings in air humidity and temperature. since wood floors will acclimatise to the conditions in the room that they are fitted in by absorbing moisture from the air or releasing moisture stored in the wood into the air it is essential that the atmospheric conditions in the space the boards are fitted into is monitored and taken into account when the survey is carried out as this will affect the way the installation is carried out and any pre installation measures are carried out.
Often when wood flooring is purchased it is naturally assumed or advised that the timber needs to be acclimatised in the building or space it is intended to be fitted in. Although this can be true it is not always the case. It is vitally important that the dwelling the flooring is intended for has had all wet trades commissioned, is sealed from the elements and the temperature and humidity are at normal occupancy levels when the building will be occupied.
Acclimatisation of wood is more of a science than most people appreciate and much depends on the moisture content of the timber at the time of supply, the present humidity and temperature of the dwelling the flooring is intended for and the climatic conditions that the flooring will be exposed to. It is vitally important that this part of wood flooring is understood to at least some degree by specifiers, designers and contractors as it is possibly the biggest cause of wood flooring problems other than damp subfloors.