Because wood is an organic material, hardwood flooring will react to its environment. If the environment in your home is humid, the flooring will absorb moisture and swell. If the environment is dry, the wood will lose moisture and shrink.
A hardwood floor’s stability is the degree to which it can resist this swelling and shrinking. The higher the stability, the greater the resistance
Generally, the higher the stability, the better. That’s because hardwood floors with greater stability are less likely to cup and gap.
Hardwood floors that gain too much moisture can cup, with the centers of the planks becoming lower than the edges of the planks.
Wood flooring that loses too much moisture can have excessive gaps. Small gaps between planks are normal if they appear during cold (drier) months and disappear during warm (more humid) months, but if gaps persist throughout the year or a larger than normal, it’s a problem.
Both cupping and gapping can be minimized by always keeping the temperature between 60- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity between 30 percent and 50 percent.
But the type of wood you select will also determine how susceptible your flooring is too cupping and gapping. That’s why stability is an important consideration when choosing the species of wood for your flooring.
Species with relatively high stability include Red Oak, White Oak, and Ash. Species with relatively low stability include Maple, Hickory, and Cumaru. Regardless of the species, engineered hardwood flooring will almost always have higher stability than solid-plank floors.
For some species, low stability isn’t something to worry about if the flooring will be in an area where you know you can control the level of humidity. But in areas where that’s difficult or not feasible, stability should be a consideration when deciding the species of wood for your flooring or when deciding on whether to use solid planks or engineered hardwood.
To learn more about how to determine dimensional stability check out this great post.
We’re glad to provide our expert advice on how important stability is in your project. And we can help you select the flooring with the best stability. Stop by our showroom any time during business hours to consult with one of our hardwood flooring professionals.