One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of maintaining a healthy wooden floor is the environmental conditions. This is especially important if you have underfloor heating. The design of the flooring does not alter the guidelines, whether you choose a herringbone, mansion weave or plank floor. The wider the pieces of flooring the better they will cope with environmental changes, but all designs should be treated with the same care.
Your engineered oak flooring needs to acclimatise. We recommend an acclimatisation period of 48 hours with no underfloor heating and 5 days with underfloor heating. This time allows the oak to match the surroundings in relation to the environment, and lets the wood have time to expand or shrink before installation. During this time, we recommend a temperature no higher than 20 degrees and with a relative humidity of between 45%-65%.
During the install, the same temperature and humidity should be maintenance as in the pre-install section. You will also need to consider the subfloor; this needs to be clean from debris, dust free and flat. The moisture content of the subfloor is very important, any new screed must be fully cured, if not this will realise moisture into the oak flooring and cause damage. Any screeds need to be below 2% moisture content, we would always recommend applying a liquid damp proof membrane to any fresh screed for additional protection. We would always recommend a professional flooring install complete the works.
Once your flooring has been installed it is worth monitoring the environment for the first few weeks and during seasonal changes. Your house will naturally change in relation to humidity during the year, in the UK we have higher humidity in summer and lower humidity in winter. Understanding how your houses environment changes can help to keep your flooring stable. Oak floors are a natural product, they will expand and contract with moisture changes. If your humidity is kept between 45% and 65% the movement will be very minimal. If you drop humidity the boards will lose moisture, and this can cause the planks to shrink and in extreme cases crack and delaminate. Underfloor heating can exaggerate this issue, in winter as humidity naturally drops the heating will increase this can cause a very sudden drop in the floors moisture content and cause the above issues. With underfloor heating it is important that any changes are made slowly to allow the oak time to adjust to the new temperature and never go above 27 degrees below the flooring. It is always recommended to install a monitoring device such as a Fidbox. In most cases you need to do very little as your environment at home will naturally stay within the recommended levels.
Humidity can be easily manipulated if required, the use of a humidifier or de humidifier can be used to increase or decrease the humidity in the rooms. The recommended humidity levels are also important for healthy human life, so maintaining the correct levels is just as important for your family as it is for your flooring.
For more information please see our technical section.