Wood Floor Acclimation: Why it Matters and what are the results?

In general, woods are flexible, just like anything else. It goes particularly well with hardwoods. Being hygroscopic is the trait we associate with a hardwood’s flexibility in climate adjustment.

Such a trait makes wood floor acclimation a crucial matter to discuss. After all, hardwoods need to adjust to the moisture level of an environment so that the hardwood materials will achieve an equilibrium (or a balance) of moisture content (EMC).

Temperature and humidity levels play roles in balancing the wood floor acclimation. Additionally, the climate conditions of the wooden materials before installation processes also become some other considerable parts in acclimating wood floors.

What is Wood Floor Acclimation?

Acclimating means getting used to a new climate. Solid wood, parquet, and laminate floors that are new to a room need time to adjust to the temperature.

Wood is a natural product that can shrink or grow, depending on the temperature and humidity.

Most of the time, a solid wood floor takes longer to get used to the environment than a parquet floor. This is due to the amount of wood used in it.

Also, it’s important not to store your suits in the sun. This harms the acclimation process.

Why should we acclimate our wooden floors?

Knowing the reasons behind the wood floor acclimation is crucial, so we can be sure that the wood floor acclimation steps we take are the correct ways to do so.

People usually acclimate their woods to make their hardwood floor surfaces thrive in seemingly unsuitable environments. After all, online deliveries and changes between one warehouse, one state, to another warehouse in a state can affect the wooden surface’s temperature, humidity and moisture levels, and many other aspects.

Let’s say we live in an environment that is always sunny. Then, the hardwood we choose is either the type of wood that people usually use in colder environments or originates from a seller who lives in another part of the world with much lower average temperatures. Then, we need to acclimate our wood to balance the differences.

Acclimating our wooden floors can also bring several advantages for the flooring surfaces, including saving from problems like cupping, warping, or shrinkage. By acclimating our wood floors, we also preserve the aesthetic values of our wooden floors.

How should my wooden floor acclimate?

Place the new floor in the middle of the room where it will be installed. If the floorboards are already packed, leave the boxes where they are. Always have the planks in place.

Solid wooden floors and parquet:

Install the solid wood or parquet flooring in the room where it will be used. Once the floorboards are packed, put the sealed packs in the middle of the room.

Stack the boxes in a way that lets air get to everything. But don’t put the planks too close to the stove or in direct sunlight.

Pay close attention to how humid the room is as well; between 45 and 75% humidity is best. A hygrometer can be used to figure this out.

This will always be quite high in a new house. It must cure and dry fully if you just poured a cement or concrete floor. If you’re not sure, check the floor first.

Laminate floors

These floors must be kept in the room in sealed packages to get used to the room temperature. This works best at a temperature of 64 °F.

Place the floor in the middle of the room. Pack the packs crosswise with a small space in between. This way, the air can circulate all around.

What are some important aspects to consider about wood floor acclimation?

Temperature, relative humidity (RH) levels, and the climate conditions between the wooden materials and the environment are crucial aspects to consider when we acclimate wood floors. Each of these aspects has ideal ranges.

Generally, the ideal temperature of an environment is between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Such a temperature range can usually achieve the desired relative humidity (RH) levels, which should fall between 30-50% per year.

The meeting point between the ideal temperature and the RH level is the thing we refer to as the hardwood surface’s moisture content in percentages. So, a hardwood with an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and an RH level of 35 will have a moisture content of 6.9%.

We can do the same math for the environment where we want to install the wood floors. Ideally, we wish for the delta value (or difference) between moisture levels of the environment versus the woods to fall between 2-4%. Then, we should acclimate the wooden surface until the delta value reaches the 2-4% range.

How long does my floor need to acclimate?

Customers often think a wooden floor needs to be soaked to get used to it. This isn’t the case.

Things are pretty much the same in the storage shed as they are in your house. In the summer, the wood only needs to get used to the weather for 1 or 2 days.

The longer the wood needs to adjust, the closer we get to winter. About three to four days in the fall. Spring is the same way. In the winter, the wood has to adjust for about a week.

The temperature difference between the cold storage shed and your warm house is very big, so the wood floor needs time to get used to the temperature in the room where it will be laid.

The time required for your wooden floor to acclimate will vary depending on the season and time of year.

Solid wood floors

A solid floor needs a long time to get used to the weather. Think about a week to two weeks. This is especially important in the winter, when the floor needs about two weeks to get used to the temperature of the room.

Laminate flooring

Laminate is pretty new material. Its quality has improved over the years to the point where it can last long after being installed. For this outcome, it would be preferable if you gave the floor time to adjust to the weather. If not, the floor can droop, or the boards might not fit.

This is especially important in the winter when the temperature in the store can be different from the temperature in the room where the floor will be installed.

Duration of acclimatization: 48 hours

Temperature: 59 – 73 °F.

Humidity: 50 – 60 %

Parquet flooring

Even though it is often treated with lacquer or oil, how it works depends on the room’s temperature and humidity. So, parquet flooring must also acclimatize. If you don’t, you might get cracks. This doesn’t take as long as solid wood floors, which need more than a week to get used to their new environment.

Don’t leave the suits out in the sun. Please don’t put them under a window because of this. In the summer, the floor only needs two days to get used to the weather. We recommend staying between 3 and 4 days in the fall and winter. During the winter, we recommend keeping it for about a week.

Duration of acclimatization: 48 hours

Temperature: 60 – 82 °F.

Humidity: 40 – 65 %

Cork floors

Cork floors are made from natural materials, like parquet floors, and they work just like wood. The floor grows or shrinks because of the temperature and humidity. So, let the floor get used to the weather and put the suits somewhere out of the sun.

Duration of acclimatization: 48 hours

Temperature: 64 – 82 °F

Humidity: 35 – 65 %

PVC floors

PVC floors are made of nothing but plastic. You might think that the natural effects on wood and cork floors don’t happen to PVC floors. PVC also works, though.

PVC floors need to get used to the weather before they can be used. You don’t use a subfloor if you have a PVC-click floor. Put a vapor barrier under the parts at all times.

The floor won’t get wet because of this. Put the packages in their sealed boxes in the room where they will install. If there is underfloor heating, ensure it is turned off 24 hours before and after installation.

Duration of acclimatization: 48 hours

Temperature: 64 – 77 °F

Humidity: 30 – 65 %

How can we acclimate our wooden floor surfaces?

Follow these instructions to acclimate our wooden floor surfaces:

  1. Ensure the environment has a door and a window, is dry, and the air conditioner and other relevant tools fully function.
  2. Adjust the temperature and modes of your air conditioner and dehumidifier.
  3. Don’t immediately unbox your wooden packages. Leave them inside the boxes for at least three days, particularly for solid and engineered wood products.
  4. Use several boards to measure the moisture meter area while the wooden floors are still inside the boxes. Then, set up the moisture meter accordingly.
  5. Repeat Step 2 until you achieve a moisture balance for the wooden surfaces.
  6. Open up the package, starting from the cardboard flap and the plastic wraps.
  7. Check the climate inside and outside the room before installing. Repeat Step 2 and Step 6 until you get the balance.

When we do Step 1 until Step 7, according to the order above, we’ll be ready to install the wooden floor surfaces. Remember: Pay attention to the manuals to benefit more from the products.

Important points of acclimating the floor

– A new floor? Let it get used to the room where it will be for 48 hours!

– Temperature inside that is close to the final living temperature

– Between 50% and 60% humidity

– Use a hashtag (#) to link floor suits.

– There can’t be more than 2% moisture left in the subsoil. (If the floor is heated, there can only be 1% moisture left.)

– Don’t get used to the weather near heaters or stoves.

– Does anything seem wrong? Before letting the new floor suits settle in, ensure the subfloor is level.

– Always treat your floor carefully before, during, and after installation!

What will happen if we don’t acclimate the wood floors?

One of the most evident things that will happen when we don’t do the correct wood floor acclimation processes is that we won’t get the product guarantees. So, this thing becomes our reason to pay attention and execute the wood floor acclimation instructions according to the product’s manual.

Sometimes, we forget to acclimate the wood floors or don’t want to do it for any reason. If we do, there is a potential that our hardwood floorboards will deteriorate in several ways, such as cupping, gapping, swelling, and other problems of a similar sort.

In the end, these wood-related problems don’t only affect the wooden floors’ surfaces. At some points, these problems can impact the wood’s characteristics and even longevity. It is especially accurate for hardwood-engineered wooden floors, which take longer to acclimate, maintain, and care for.

Final thought

Always follow the instructions on the package. For example, the best way to stack floorboards in the room where they will be put down is in a hashtag shape.

This exposes the floor parts and creates the best airflow for acclimatization. Also, ensure that the floorboards have enough time to get used to the room where they will be put in.

It must be taken care of even after the new floor is down. Even though leveling and acclimation are precautions, the proper aftercare is just as important to keep your floor in good shape.