humidity hardwood gym floor care

How Humidity Impacts Hardwood Gym Floor Care in Spring and Summer

Just as the changing seasons impact the outside world around us, they can affect your gym’s hardwood floor if you don’t maintain it properly.  Since wood is a hygroscopic material, it can absorb and release moisture from the surrounding environment.  Environmental fluctuations in humidity and moisture can cause a lot of damage to hardwood maple floors. 

The hottest months of the year are quickly approaching.  It’s critical to know how to take care of your hardwood floor in the humid spring and summer.  We’ll also briefly go over how fall and winter impact your court and what you can do to properly maintain your hardwood floor year-round.  Let’s get right into it. 

Ideal Humidity Conditions

According to MFMA’s recommended specifications, facility operators should maintain indoor relative humidity between 35% and 50%.  At the same time, indoor air temperatures should also be kept between 55 degrees and 70 degrees year-round.  By maintaining constant atmospheric conditions, you’ll significantly limit the potential contraction and expansion of the floor.  If the relative humidity of your indoor gym varies more than 15%, the hardwood floor might start to experience excessive shrinkage or expansion.

Hardwood Gym Floor Seasonal Maintenance

How you maintain your hardwood floor depends on the season and the type of climate you live in.  Let’s take a look at how different seasons can affect your indoor court.  We’ll also discuss how you can adjust your humidity hardwood gym floor care routine, depending on the time of year.

Springtime and Indoor Hardwood Courts

Springtime can be a problematic period for gym owners.  Early spring showers often bring water issues that can be tough to deal with.  While there aren’t any specific maintenance tips to adhere to during this period, the most important thing is to be prepared in case your facility floods or experiences some other form of water damage. 

It’s crucial to know who to call to minimize the damage and properly dry the hardwood floor as soon as possible.  An incorrectly-dried floor will cause issues down the line.  The expected lifespan of the sports floor will also be significantly shortened.

In the same line, if the floor experiences prolonged exposure to water, it will start buckling.  This will cause the flooring to pull away from the subfloor.  Fortunately, this is rare.  But if it happens, you’ll have to remove the existing hardwood altogether and install a new gym floor.

Summer and Hardwood Gym Floors

Just like excess humidity can cause damage to your hardwood floor, extensive dry air in your indoor facility can cause cupping or crowning.  Cupping happens because the bottom of the hardwood board contains more moisture than the top. This causes the floor’s edges to rise higher than its center.  Opposite to cupping, crowning is caused by excess moisture in the top section. This makes the center part of the board rise higher than its edges.

To avoid these two problems, keeping the indoor humidity in check is especially important during the hot summer months.  Even if your hardwood floor isn’t used over the summer, the air conditioning system or fans should be running to maintain a stable relative humidity.  If you don’t do so, you’re at risk of creating a greenhouse-like effect, with moisture trapped inside of your sports facility.  If this happens, it will be challenging to remove excess moisture and mitigate the damage.

It’s a good idea to have a device that will continuously monitor relative indoor humidity.  That way, you can quickly adjust your HVAC to any humidity and temperature fluctuations.  Also, consider using a gym floor covering to provide additional protection.  These are particularly useful if you plan on using the floor for other indoor activities that include heavy foot traffic or moving objects across the hardwood.

Fall and Winter Indoor Gym Floor Humidity Control

For most sports facility owners, fall means back to full operation.  Before starting the new school year or sports season, you should make sure that your floor is in the best shape possible. Consider screening and recoating your hardwood floor during this time. The new coat of fresh finish will act as a barrier and prevent any dirt or moisture from getting between the boards.

How you maintain your indoor gym floor in the winter will depend on what part of the country you live in, and the average temperatures and air humidity of your location. If you live in a part of the country that gets dry, cold air during winter months and low relative humidity, shrinkage cracks are a pretty common thing.  Shrinkage cracks are most apparent during winter, as these cracks usually close during spring and summer when the floor absorbs excess moisture from the air.

A mistake that a lot of sports facility operators make is they overheat the inside of the facility during winter months.  This leads to excessively dry air, which depletes the wood of moisture. Large, highly visible gaps between the floorboards appear. 

Ensure Your Floor is Protected Year-round

Significant fluctuations in temperature and humidity can damage your hardwood floor and shorten its lifetime.  That’s why taking proper care of the floor should be your top priority.  A hardwood floor free of dents and damaged patches not only looks better but makes your court much safer to use.

While some of these tips might seem complicated at first glance, protecting your hardwood floor is quite simple.  Maintaining your hardwood floor shouldn’t be an overly-complicated task. Understanding maintenance requirements and adjusting your upkeep solutions throughout the year will go a long way toward your sports facility’s health.  The three most important things to pay attention to are:

  • The temperature inside the gym
  • Relative indoor humidity
  • Having a proper maintenance routine  

If this article left you looking for further answers, feel free to reach out to us at any time!  Whether you need additional tips or want to schedule a professional consultation, contact us online or at 973-801-7219.  We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.