Air Conditioning Effects on Floors

As we head into the summer months and the air con is turned on more and more, you might be wondering about the impact continued use might be having on your home.

Alongside the typical concerns about energy use and rising power bills, you may be thinking about the effects air conditioning could be having on your flooring – and vice versa. To set your mind at ease, let’s take a quick look at the issue.

Should you be worried about how air conditioning affects your floors?

The simple answer to the question is that it depends.

The good news is that most in-home air conditioner units aren’t used enough to have that much of an impact on your floors, but depending on what your floors are made from and how often you’ll be running your air-con, it’s certainly something you’ll want to keep in the back of your mind.

It’s always worth keeping an eye on the relative humidity of a space – this is a measure of how dry the air is. The lower the value, the drier the air. Changes in humidity throughout the year can result in changes to the floor. Drier and less humid spaces might result in floor panel shrinkage because of the lower moisture content. Warmer and more humid spaces have increased moisture content, which can result in expansion.

Usually these changes are very gradual, and most floors are designed and fitted to allow for this to happen naturally over the seasons. But because our air-conditioning units add an extra level of environmental change, it’s always worth keeping an eye on things – especially if you’re planning on running them a lot during the summer months.

Solid timber vs engineered flooring

All timber-based flooring will be affected by changing humidity to some extent, but it’s worth noting that solid timber floors will have the greatest movement. They are usually the most sensitive to any changes, followed by strand woven bamboo products. You will usually find that the width of the boards is affected, rather than the length.

Engineered flooring is often specifically designed to reduce expansion in the width of the boards, though there is sometimes some movement in the length. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is often quite balanced, due to the homogenous layer at the core of each board.

Refrigerative vs evaporative air conditioning

As well as specific flooring type, it’s worth considering the type of air conditioning you’re using. The two most common types seen in domestic houses are refrigerative air conditioning (often called reverse cycle, ducted, or split system) or evaporative air conditioning.

Refrigerative air conditioners extract moisture from the air to lower humidity, while evaporative air conditioners increase the humidity, by pushing cool, moist air into the room.

One way to manage air conditioning’s effects on your floors is to ensure you have the right type for your climate. Subtropical Brisbane, for example, will want to reduce humidity with refrigerative air-con, while drier areas will welcome the moister air of evaporative air-con.

The key is to maintain a balance. Not only will this help your floors, but will result in a more comfortable environment for everyone inside!

Will air conditioning affect your floors?

It’s important to remember that, in most cases, your air-con simply won’t be turned on enough to have a real impact on your floors. This is even more true of homes with engineered or laminate flooring, as these are less affected than solid timber and other natural products.

That being said, it’s good practice to understand the relative humidity in your home and adjust your air conditioning usage and temperatures accordingly. Make the most of cool breezes, open windows, and fans when you can, and find a happy balance.

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