With the end of the year on our doorstep and the summer break upon us, outdoor timbers are being specified at their peak. This means many of us are frantically completing projects and working overtime to deliver in-full and on-time. With timber, matching the inside of a house with outside decking is a great way to increase a home’s desirability. The summer period has proven fantastic for the new IRON ASH cladding, decking and screening range, which is being used to match Victorian ash joinery and flooring. This brings us to a very timely message.

Many of our builders will be looking forward to a well-earned summer break and, coming back to a house that’s spent the summer in lock up, many will return after Australia Day to an all too familiar issue for this time of year: gaps between the floor boards.

Timber flooring sold in Australia is kiln dried to a room’s optimum equilibrium moisture content (EMC) as advised by the Australian Standard AS2796. While this is acceptable, Victorian ash boards are generally dried to a consistency of 9-10 per cent moisture content (MC) – exceeding recommendations.

This means the floors are ideally suited to homes with an EMC of 9-10 per cent. When laying a floor, the floor layer should always consider the in-use conditions of the floor. If the home is based in a high humidity area where average EMC would be higher than 9-10 per cent MC, expansion should be allowed for. If the area is lower in humidity than 9-10 per cent MC, the boards will need to contract.

Newly built homes that are left locked up over summer often have the same thing in common: large windows with no curtains, no furnishings, lack of air flow, high temperatures, and very low humidity. Even if the windows are small and covered, heat manages to find its way in, and the lack of furnishing and human interaction increases the heat’s effects as boards contract to meet the room’s EMC.

The Australian Timber Floor Association is the peak body for floor layers in Australia. They have great documentation on how to predict the EMC of a floor and many tips on how to avoid or fix any problems you may come across.

To find out more on this issue, visit www.atfa.com.au/consumer-services/consumer-information and scroll to the ‘Acclimatisation of Solid T&G Flooring’ section to download a PDF with more information.