Why do I have gaps in my floor during Winter?

As you may know, timber expands and contracts. Think of a nice green leave drying in the sun – as it dries out, the leave gets thinner, more brittle and starts to contract on itself. Your timber is also affected by this drying out process – as the room and the floor gets dryer (most often we measure this dry air in terms of Relative Humidity), the boards will also get dryer and start to lose some size. What this means is that anytime that we expose our floors to drying conditions, we need to expect some shrinkage in each board, and this shrinkage is most often displayed by gaps appearing at board edges.

Some things that can cause drying out of floors are:

  • Direct sunlight
  • Extended periods of dry weather
  • Close proximity to heat sources such as radiant heaters, ovens or fireplaces
  • The use of air-conditioning (for either heating or cooling)
  • Dry afternoon winds

So what can we do about it? Well once we understand that the drying is what is causing the gaps, we can start to limit and at times reverse the shrinking process. Some great tips are:

  • Limit ventilation during the afternoon as this is the driest time of the day – especially if a westerly wind is blowing.
  • Conversely, humidity is often at its highest during the night so ventilation at night can be helpful.
  • Limit the use of air-conditioning and heating
  • Introduce moisture into the rooms. This can be done by filling the sink or bowls with water overnight, leaving clothes to dry indoors, or increased mopping (still just damp mop but a little more often).

The important thing to remember is that it can take a few weeks for timber to start to react to these changes, so don’t be alarmed if the small things don’t immediately affect gaps between boards. And as with all your flooring needs, if you are unsure and want some more tailored advice for your home, give our team a call and we would be more than happy to help you out.