Moisture in wood floors and challenges with older properties

Here at Art of Clean in Cambridge, we help many homeowners restore they lovely wood floors to get many more years of use from their wood floors.

I recently visited a home in Clare Street in Cambridge that has a lovely pine floor in the basement.

The old finish that was applied about ten years prior is now showing signs of wear.

The client’s objective is for us to restore the wood floor by sanding and re-applying a new Polyurethane finish.

To achieve a light floor and depress the orange look that many times appears with pine timber, a white pigmented lacquer would be advised. The white stained floor finish will give the home a Scandinavian like look.

On first observation, it looked like it was a straightforward job.

As part of the inspection process, every homeowner should get a wood floor restorer to take moisture readings from the floor. The moisture readings we obtained showed a much higher than typical moisture content from the basement.

On closer inspection, I observed that there are some air bricks to the front of the property, but I could only find one air brick on the back, and plants in the back garden mostly overgrew it

Why are airbricks important.

Many years ago, moisture in buildings was not such a big issue as it is today. Homes at the time was naturally draughty and colder. That was life. The benefit was that any moisture that crept up the walls and into the home evaporate doff the walls and was carried out by the movement of air.

Our modern lives have led us to preserve energy by sealing buildings up to keep us warm. To achieve this safely and keep us dry new buildings have a Damp Proof Course / Damp Proof Membrane to prevent moisture entering the building.

Older buildings have been made more airtight over the years in the attempt to improve the Energy Performance of the home. The Energy Performance Certificate for the home will show this.

In many cases, EPS’s will suggest improvements to energy efficiency. Air movement and the reduction thereof has a big part to play to get a better rating.

In the process to get a better rating some homeowners and trade people do not consider the impact of air movement restrictions and the damp issues that follow.

Back to the home in Clare Street.

The air bricks at the front of the home had many (and I truly mean MANY) layers of paint over them.  The air vents have mostly closed due to this. The plants at the back have mostly overgrown the one airbrick.

Tight sealing doors and windows now trap air in the basement, and the floor has a much higher moisture content.

What can go wrong?

A wood floor restoration company can sand the floor, and it will respond well. The finish can be applied, and all looks ok. Small things become apparent, and without understanding the issues, the homeowner may find the finish can do one of a few things. It peels off the floor. The finish remains soft and marks easily; the finish turns white within a few weeks.

In some cases, the floor restoration company may pull their shoulders up and say it is bad luck or what happens most of the time is the homeowner does not notice it straight away, and the floor wears out way too fast. Some years later, the homeowner cannot track down the firm that did the floor, and the floor needs to be re-sanded and finished.

Our mission here at Art of Clean is to help our clients preserve their lovely wood floors and get as much life from them as possible.

Ensure you get a wood floor restoration company that gets a big picture view of your floor sanding project before you employ them.

Before calling a wood floor restoration company to provide you with a quote for wood floor restoration do inspect the air bricks around the outside of your home. If you can, take moisture readings from your floor.

If you notice any anomalies, we advise you get in touch with a damp treatment specialist to improve air movement under the floor before you get your floor restored.

For further advice or information on our Carpet and Soft Furnishing care please don’t hesitate to contact the Art of Clean team on 01223 863632 in Cambridge. Our services include Carpet Cleaning, Upholstery Cleaning, oriental and area Rug Cleaning, Curtain Cleaning, Patio and Driveway Pressure washing, Leather Cleaning, Stone and Tile Floor Cleaning and Wood Floor Sanding and Restoration. We also supply new flooring and carpets through our sister company Art of Flooring. Our Dry Cleaning service is provided by Farthings Cambridge