Hardwood floor acclimation is popularly refers to as acclimatization or wood conditioning. It is a process done for hardwood floors before installation. The process involves allowing materials much time to adjust to the change in another environment.
The hardwood should adjust to the temperature and humidity of the sub-floor available on the job site.
Poor acclimation of hardwood flooring may lead to excessive expansion, dimensional warping, shrinkage, or structural damage.
Continue reading to see a basic overview of the acclimation process and some great tips for conditioning hardwood flooring.
What is Acclimation?
Acclimation means the process of conditioning hardwood floor woods so that their liquid content is at the best level for the environment that will be installed. For many wood flooring, the wood floor needs to be within four percent of the liquid content of your subfloor. As regards solid wood flooring with woods above 3 inches, the flooring needs to be within two percent of the subfloor.
If the content of the wood is lower than the acceptable range, it will absorb liquid and swell up. Excessive content makes it lose moisture, leading to shrinkage. You need to strive for what is called equilibrium moisture content, or the point where the wood will neither gain nor lose moisture.
Why acclimate Hardwood Flooring?
You importantly need to acclimate hardwood because of their hygroscopic nature. This implies that it will absorb moisture from its current environment. Absorbing or losing moisture in excess will cause a change in wood. It can shrink, split, expand, or check due to too many changes in moisture. When wood flooring absorbs excessive moisture, each board will begin to expand in width. This can make boards look cupped or swollen.
Boards can also start to push against the nails in the floor and eventually it leads to loose boards or squeaks. If you have a glued board, excessive moisture can force the boards to stretch the glue eventually making it fail. When excessive moisture is released by wood flooring and turned too dry, boards will start to shrink in width, forming noticeable gaps between boards.
Since the wood is too dry, the boards may also crown in the middle. It is essential to adjust the humidity before the floor is fastened or glued down. If after the floor is in place, the humidity changes, the outcome can damage the flooring.
Tips to Acclimating Hardwood Flooring
If the wood flooring manufacturer recommends it to be acclimated before installation, continue as follows:
Control the climate of the home for two weeks before delivery
The right acclimation begins immediately after delivery to the job site. Before you come to the site with the wood flooring, inspect the environment of the room where the wood flooring will acclimate with a hygrometer and take the humidity and temperature levels. To acclimate the floor properly, climate controls the household for a minimum of 14 days before delivery. Leave the floor at the median normal living conditions expected for the household.
Measure the moisture content after delivery
Bring in a box from flooring and open the tape seam towards the length and ends of the box. Remove the inner plastic wrapping. It will be difficult for the flooring to acclimate well if left inside the plastic wrapping. You can leave the flooring in the boxes to acclimate, but you have to open the seams and cut the plastic wrapping open.
Rack a few boards together to make sure perfect fit and complete and confirm color and species with the homeowner. Measure the moisture content of many boards, across many boxes containing flooring. In addition, measure the subfloor’s moisture content, not forgetting to adjust the setting of species on your meter. A subfloor that has a moisture content of below 12% is ready to start working.
However, know that the moisture content in a subfloor and flooring in most situations must be around 2 percent of each other to start the installation. The only exception is for highly-thin hardwood flooring.
Cross stack the entire boxes
Continue to bring in boxes of flooring and keep spacing them from one another, so that one holds the cardboard flap of the other down. Open each box’s plastic wrapping and cardboard flap. Stack the boxes in a cross manner to enable air to circulate across the flooring. This will enable efficient acclimation. If the need to return a full unused box arises, just fold the cardboard flaps together and apply clear packing tape to seal it. We do not accept returns of unused boxes if they are not properly taped to their original state.
Figure out when it’s acclimated
Immediately you’ve don’t the first to three steps, how do you determine when the floor is completely acclimated? There is some difficult science related to the answer to this. In short: wood flooring has acclimated immediately it has gotten to equilibrium with the household kept at median normal living conditions. Figuring out when the floor is in equilibrium needs better judgment depending on experience, factual readings, and the climate conditions of your area.
When not sure, hire a professional to assist
If you don’t know whether your hardwood flooring requires acclimatization, or even for how long, reach out to Dallas Floors. Our flooring experts will help you make a better judgment. Flooring should often be the final job of any construction project. And some conditions must be met before the delivery of wood flooring is done to the site. These include:
- All doors and windows are properly installed and closed
- Final grading is performed and the entire drainage runs far from the building
- All wet building elements such as plastering, drywall, and concrete are done and dry
- No moisture in the basement and crawl space areas
- AC and heating systems are working well and have been functional for 5 days before delivery
- Proper humidity and temperature in the building have been put in place.
FAQ about How to Acclimate Hardwood Floor
How long is needed for hardwood to acclimate?
Acclimation times differ by species and product, but a general rule states that wood floor products should acclimate for a minimum of 3 days. You are making efforts to get equilibrium between the wood material’s liquid content and the air in the location the product is being installed.
Can hardwood flooring acclimate inside the box?
Hardwood flooring can acclimate in the box, but it will require more time because of the lack of airflow. What duration is needed for hardwood flooring to acclimate in the box is based on the room, the amount of wrapping, and how it is stacked.
What happens if you fail to acclimate your flooring?
If you fail to acclimate hardwood flooring before you install it, you risk the woods expanding or compressing from its installed spot as it adjusts to the new room’s temperature and humidity. This may lead to buckling or haps at the edges of the woods contract or expand.
What time of year is the best to install hardwood floors?
For lots of reasons, fall is the best time of year for hardwood floors installation. Autumn is the best time for fresh starts. Since the winter holidays is already upon us, fall is also the perfect time to handle a renovation project or more before you receive friends and family to your home during the holiday season.
What is the best level of humidity for hardwood floors?
Keeping your household between 35 to 55 percent relative humidity consistently is the best way to keep your hardwood floors from expanding, cracking, gapping, shrinking, squeaking, or cupping. These levels of relative humidity are also where humans are also highly comfortable.
Is 24-hours too long to acclimate hardwood flooring?
Hardwood flooring materials need to adjust to the temperature and moisture condition of the installation site for 24 – 72 hours (to be determined by the product) before its installation.
Call Dallas Floors for your Hardwood Acclimation
Do you have interest in more tips for adjusting hardwood flooring to humidity, temperature, and moisture? Allow us to guide you through it. Dallas Floors has been in the business, satisfying customers for decades. We carry varieties of unique, reclaimed flooring together with hardwood flooring, unfinished flooring, and prefinished flooring options.