There is a typical misconception that flooring contractors often pass on to their customers that when it comes to hardwood acclimation the process is not necessary. Others will insist that acclimating the product in their workplace, showroom, or warehouse will mean that the product will be ready for install. This is common untruth that is passed along by the some less experienced contractors that don’t have the resources, dedication or knowledge to deliver a great finished product.
What is Hardwood Flooring Acclimation?
According to the National Wood Flooring Association, wood acclimation is “the process of adjusting (conditioning) the moisture content of wood flooring to the environment in which it is expected to perform.” There are a few factors that play an important role in this process; moisture, temperature, and time. The recommended humidity range of the installation room should range between 35%-60%. Temperature should be controlled and be as consistent to the actual living environment the home owner will normally use in the period that the product is acclimating. That temperature should be within the range of 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Hardwood floors require a minimum of 48 hours to acclimate, starting at the moment the product was delivered on site. Solid Hardwood, depending on dimensions and species can take up to 10 days to acclimate.
Why Do You Need to Acclimate Hardwood Floors?
Wood is a natural material that absorbs and releases moisture depending on its surrounding environment. When the air around us has high humidity, wood will expand due to retaining water within itself; but when it’s dry wood will contract.
Hardwood acclimation allows the wood to adjust to the environment it will be living in. It helps maintains its beauty by preventing excessive shrinkage, structural damage, or warping.
Hardwood Flooring Moisture Guidelines
The difference in moisture between the sub-floor and hardwood should be between 2% to 4%. It all depends on what size of wood planks are being installed; 76mm or wider planks should only differ by 2%, while those less than 76mm should be more like 2%.
How to Prepare for Acclimating Hardwood Flooring
Here are some steps that will help you, the customer or your third-party installer prepare and acclimate your new floors.
Monitor the jobsite before the wood flooring is delivered:
- Humidity is within 35-60%
- HVAC is working properly
- Windows and doors are installed and closed
- Check for signs of water leaks or faulty plumbing
- Sub-flooring is dry
- Painting is dry
Check product and make sure it is not damaged upon arrival
- Communicate with your contractor and let them know you are ready to wait for the hardwood acclimation process
- Ask to be informed about every step of the project
- Do not pressure your contractor to start installation before conditions are met (And do not allow your installer to pressure you into rushing the installation before the flooring is acclimated)
To help with this process, it is important to ensure that the hardwood installation is the last step of the project in remodels and new constructions. This would mean that the subfloor has been cleaned out and prepared. That other areas of the project do not interfere with the acclimation process, and that no harmful chemicals or unwanted foot traffic or equipment will be dragged across the new floor surface.
How to Acclimate Wood Flooring
Acclimating your new wood floors before installation is crucial for a number of reasons. First, it ensures that the moisture content levels are in sync with their environment so they don’t cause any problems later on down the line- including too much expansion or shrinkage which could lead to warping as well as potential structural damage.
The best way to acclimate your flooring is by keeping it in a controlled environment. Ideally, indoors when possible. If this isn’t an option, make sure you leave them in their box and store them in your shed or garage. Try not to stack the boxes and open the ends of the boxes for ventilation.
If you’re able to store them in your house, pull them out of their boxes and lay them across your floor the way you’d like for them to be installed.
Always, follow the instructions that come with the box.
An installer can be extremely gifted in putting planks together but arguably the most important aspect of a professional flooring installation is the prep work and attention to details before the first plank has even been laid down. Acclimating the product is the most important detail to pay attention to. Failure to do so may void the manufacturer’s warranty if issues appear with the product after installation.
To find out more, and if you are interested in our flooring services in the Austin and Central Texas area please contact us via this site or by phone at (512)-351-2258. You are always welcome to our showroom – open to the public. No appointment necessary.
Millennium Hardwood Flooring
9705 Research Blvd Suite C1
Austin, TX 78759