How to acclimate hardwood flooring from National Floors Direct

How to Acclimate Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring can increase the value of your home by 2.5 percent. It creates a warm, cozy aesthetic for homes, and it lasts a long time compared to its counterparts of carpet and linoleum, 

But improperly installed, a hardwood floor can be a disaster. It requires skill, patience, and time. Few people realize that you cannot just pop the hardwood flooring over your existing floor. 

You need to acclimate the wood to your environment before you begin installing hardwood flooring. Such a process requires knowledge and skill. Keep reading to learn how to acclimate hardwood flooring. 

What Is Hardwood Flooring?

Not all wood floors are hardwood floors. Hardwood flooring consists of wood harvested from slow-growing trees. As a result, the flooring is denser than the softwood varieties. 

Hardwood flooring will last longer than softwood floors and also requires less maintenance. The durability of each type of wood varies. The National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association uses a wood hardness rating scale to determine the durability of each type of wood. 

Why Do You Have to Acclimate Wood Flooring? 

Solid hardwood is hygroscopic. It absorbs moisture from its environment. This moisture can cause your wood to shrink, expand, check, or split. 

Too much moisture will cause hardwood flooring to expand. This is when you see cupped or swollen boards. The boards will push against their fasteners, begin to squeak, and may even loosen. 

If you have a wood floor that is glued down, the moisture can make the boards swell. They will then stretch the adhesive. 

When the wood boards lose moisture, they will dry out and shrink. This causes gaps between boards. Sometimes the boards may even crown in the center because the boards are dry. 

Thus, to avoid these problems, you need to acclimate wood boards to the environment before you place them. In the end, you'll have a beautifully placed floor that doesn't warp, crown, or shrink. 

Time and Climate Matter

It would make sense to believe that you just need to leave the wood planks in the room's environment for some time. One could easily believe the wood would then acclimate to the humidity in the room. Sometimes acclimation depends on time, but sometimes time can be a detriment to the acclimation process. 

The moisture content of the flooring in relation to the moisture in the room matters the most. Have the moisture in your wood flooring measured with a wood moisture meter. Measure the moisture in both your flooring and the subfloor where you will lay the wood. 

Wood flooring should have a moisture content within two percent of the subfloor. If the difference is any greater, then you need to acclimate the wood flooring before you place it. 

Floor installers should also consider the geographic location of the flooring. Think about seasons and climates and if there are seasonal variations in humidity and temperature. Additionally, consider how much the home relies on HVAC for climate control. 

Think holistically about the environment instead of just looking at wood and subfloor moisture. The environment will affect the flooring, especially in a home that has fewer climate control options. All of these variables affect how fast a floor acclimates. 

For example, if you're installing flooring in a location that has cold, dry winters and warm, humid summers, the flooring will acclimate quickly in the summer. If you're installing the flooring in the winter, though, you'll have to wait longer for the flooring to be within two percent of the subfloor moisture content. 

How to Acclimate Hardwood Flooring

To acclimate hardwood flooring, begin by looking at the manufacturer. A manufacturer will tell you specifically how much time they recommend as well as how to acclimate the flooring properly. 

Wait Three Days

Begin with a three-day wait. Generally speaking, manufacturers will recommend waiting three days for the flooring to have a moisture equilibrium. You need to get to a point where the wood is not losing or gaining moisture but is staying at the same moisture content. 

Air It Out

Then, break your flooring material into smaller lots. Your flooring comes in a large package. Break those into smaller groups to give the flooring more airflow and a chance to acclimate. 

Stack the planks in a criss-cross pattern, using spacers to separate the planks and increase air circulation. 

Wait a Little Longer

If you're finishing the wood floor on the building site you will need to set aside more time for the floor to acclimate. Instead of the three-day wait, you will need five to seven days. 

Contractors will often install engineered floors using adhesives with volatile organic compounds or VOCs. The VOCs need to evaporate before you finish the floor. The adhesive manufacturer will also have recommendations on how much time you should wait. 

Treat Tropical Wood Carefully

Consider your wood carefully as well. Tropical wood species such as bamboo will gain or lose moisture more quickly than our domestic wood species. the oils and resins in the tropical wood will construe the moisture readings as well. Thus, you need to give tropical wood species more time to acclimate. 

Read Directions

The manufacturer will have recommendations for the flooring as well. Read these carefully so you do not avoid a warranty by installing the floor too soon. 

Acclimate and Enjoy

Knowing how to acclimate hardwood flooring means knowing how to be patient. Hardwood flooring will look beautiful if you install it properly and follow these guidelines. If you fail to acclimate hardwood flooring, though, you will ruin a valuable investment. 

Take your time, and enjoy the process of installing your hardwood floor. 

Are you looking for some quality hardwood flooring? If so, contact us. We have a variety of woods that will suit whatever aesethic you're aiming for. 

Give us a call today and let us help you with your new floor.