Heritage homes are often some of the most memorable. They are also some of the most labour or cost intensive. You could spend countless hours and dollars on maintaining your beautiful vintage home, including repairs and upgrades to your roof, windows, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, electrical and plumbing and the list goes on. But is it possible to enjoy the charm of a heritage home without the deteriorating reminders of its age?
In this article we focus on arguably the largest “original” feature of a heritage house; its floor.
Watch your Humidity and Temperature
Wood is a natural material which “breaths” and changes depending on environmental factors. For example, if there is a lot of moisture in the air a plank of wood will absorb this moisture and widen as a result. The same effect can be observed in your heritage floors. Multiplied by many planks of wood which are your floor, this effect can add up to significant dimensional changes and shifts in your floor.
These changes create very strong forces that can pull up nails and screws, warp and bend the planks, sometimes even bulging the whole floor.
Similarly, dry environments wick the moisture away from the floorboards, shrinking them. This effect loosens fasteners and creates the gaps and voids you can often see between your hardwood floorboards. The trouble is not only visual, but practical. The open voids in your floor allow for dirt and water to seep in and rot the floor from within. This is why we never recommend washing hardwood floors with water!
Keep your humidity under control! Buy a humidity monitor or two and place them in a couple of spots in your house. The ThermoPro is a popular option. Make sure to use a humidifier in the winter, whether it be a humidifier that installs onto your furnace (whole home humidifier) or portable humidifiers in multiple areas of your home.
In the summer, the air can get too humid. If you own an A/C, you’re in luck as it helps keep humidity under control in the summer. If you don’t, we recommend running a portable dehumidifier to keep your humidity lower. We've had a great experience with a Danby dehumidifier.
Update the Outdated
Although outdated building components like electrical outlets, plumbing fixtures, counters, appliances, original windows and doors can all contribute to a heritage home’s charm, they can also be the culprits of costly, often irreversible damage to your home.
Since we are focusing on heritage flooring, here are some of the dangers some these items pose. Old or poorly maintained plumbing fixtures can often have a slow leak, which if ends up on your floor will cause water damage like mold, rot and rusting nails, all leading to permanent damage, health risks and of course, squeaking! A drafty window can allow for localized drying of a floor in the winter, causing gaps and spaces to form which cause squeaking and allow for debris and water to get in. Old appliances carry with them a high risk of malfunction. Three appliances put your floors at particular risk: the dish washer, washing machine and the refrigerator. If any of these break down you risk a large leak, badly and permanently damaging your floor.
A heritage home is a thing of beauty, but some things were simply not designed to last forever. Service or replace these items before a disaster strikes.
We left the most unexpected for last. UV ray damage!
Bright, hot sunlight can act in a similar way to low humidity. It can dry and burn your floor’s surface. The top coat is damaged by the sun and can begin to age faster than the rest of the floor. Not too dissimilar to our skin.
Floors aren’t only at risk of structural damage, but permanent cosmetic damage as well. UV rays discolour the appearance of wood floors in the areas the rays hit. You may have seen this before; an area rug placed by a window that leaves a permanent shadow once you move the rug away. This is due to UV damage to the floor surrounding the rug.
Proper window shading can help prevent cosmetic damage to your heritage floors. We recommend keeping your window coverings closed when you’re not home and on any bright sunny day, in order to prolong the life of your floor.
In most cases a heritage floor can be strengthened, restored and silenced by Squeak Knights and given a refreshed look with a recommended refinishing service. Despite what you may have thought before, thanks to our technology it’s possible to have a heritage floor, without creaking.
If you want to silence your squeaky floors without floor removal or replacement, call Squeak Knights. We have diagnosed and permanently silenced hundreds of floors in the Greater Toronto Area – with no floor removal!
If you are outside the Toronto area, don't fret, see this list of DIY options you or your handyman could try.
Our passion is help you feel more comfortable in your own home, so don’t be shy to contact us with questions and to book an assessment.