Since nationally the popularity of wood flooring is rising exponentially (we see more and more homes, offices, hotels, shops etc installing it) and wood floors being rather a new subject for us as Indians (India has been traditionally a stone and tiles market because of availability), it is important that we get to know it a bit more.

I have been noticing a concern about wood floors in the minds of some consumers in general. Thought let me clarify this. The concern is that wood floors could go bad immediately upon contact with moisture.

This is incorrect. Like all things, wood also gels well with certain things and not with others. Moisture certainly has an effect on it however, if it were so bad for wood, we would not see trees surviving well in harsh sun and water (they survive a lot of rain..). Also, If you take a piece of wood and leave it in water for some time, it does not goes bad immediately or rots or anything. Wood logs are still transported in rivers (they are left in the river to run along downhill and are collected at lower ground). They do not get destroyed.

So what is the issue??

The real issue is understanding how moisture affects wood and taking care while and after installation so that it does not affect it in a bad way. You know that your expensive silk can get stained so you just take care. One does not stop wearing silk (if one likes it of course…)similarly, with a wood floor, you need to take care at 2 stages (pre-installation and post-installation).

In wood, cells continue to absorb and release water over a lifetime; they expand when more moisture comes in (monsoons, heavy water spillage) and shrink when it dries (dry months). So while installing a wood floor (in a new building), ensure as a first step that:

  1. The sub-floor is dry enough. Have the installation contractor check the floor with an appropriate moisture meter – The eye test (just looking at the floor and judging if it is dry enough) is certainly a bad idea here.
  2. Get the installation done at the right time(only when the job site is dry enough and free of other wet work – The construction site has generally a moist and humid atmosphere because of other wet work going on. If you get the installation done when the humidity is still high, the wood will expand more than usual and when the AC is turned on or when it returns to normal humidity, the floor will now shrink. This increases the possibility of gaps appearing between planks. Besides this one also faces the risk of other workers damaging the floor due to various reasons). In case of an installation of an old floor (marble, mosaic etc) one generally does not need to worry much. Always remember – wood flooring should be the last job on the job site when all wet work, electrical, plumbing, primary coats of paint have finished. You may need to do some small touching from the painter post-installation near the skirting.
  3. Post-installation during use; wipe off any spills (water, tea, coke, wine etc) as soon as possible. This is not that your floor will go bad immediately. Just because if it seeps thru joints, it will take a lot of time to dry and can affect the flooring (depending upon the amount) adversely. Just to give you an idea, I would not go ballistic if a glass of water falls down (simply would wipe it). But if my cleaning staffs spill a whole bucket or I notice a water seepage or leakage happening, I will wipe it dry fast and call my flooring installer to have his viewpoint and appropriate handling.
  4. Daily cleaning needs are generally two – first removing dust and second, removing any stains or marks. The first is best taken care of by a vacuum cleaner as it sucks all dirt. If you don’t have it, use a broom. Second can be handled using water by a well-wrung clean mop. Using too much water during cleaning, will cause the flooring joints to swell a bit. They do not look nice then. In case the stains are stubborn or previous cleanings have left a sort of layer on the floor and it sort of feels dull, use a specialised floor cleaner like Bona from Sweden. Bona is the world leader in wood floor maintenance products and we generally keep sufficient quantities in stock.
  5. Have an AMC in place. Like all things, wood floors also require certain care. If you would like to enjoy your wood floor at it’s best during it’s lifetime, buy an AMC from a reputed and technically competent flooring professional. Span Floors offers one. Watch out for my next blog on the new Span floors AMC program.
  6. Last but not the least; do keep the contact details of your flooring co. handy. The monsoon season typically brings calls from customers (typically new constructions) where there has been a bad waterproofing job done or a water trap in a balcony has clogged and rain water seepage happens, a bathroom at the site leaked. Do call your installer immediately. A call in time raises your chances of saving your investment considerably.

Happy Flooring 🙂
Satinder Chawla