How To Acclimate Hardwood Flooring? [A Step-by-step Guide]

how to acclimate hardwood flooring

We all focus on installing the hardwood flooring correctly. We emphasize choosing the right hardwood flooring. In fact, we handpick the best hardwoods from the market. But still, we often mess up with the flooring. But why? This is because we don’t prioritize acclimating the hardwood flooring. 

Acclimating hardwood flooring means allowing the hardwood flooring to adjust with the environment where it has been installed. Not only that It has to be stored in a suitable place too to get the best result out of it. So basically, preparing the hardwood flooring and letting it adjust are two crucial parts of hardwood flooring installation. Prioritizing hardwood flooring acclimation is extremely important. 

For those who have only a little knowledge about hardwood flooring acclimation, this article is for you. Here, I will be talking A to Z about how to acclimate hardwood flooring and some other related factors. Hence, stay with me if you want to get the best result out of the hardwood flooring. 

3 Simple Steps To Acclimate Hardwood Flooring:

To be precise, acclimation is to adjust the moisture content in the hardwood to the environment where it will be installed. The moisture level of the hardwood and the environment should come to an equilibrium. If they are not synchronized, the hardwood would expand, shrink, wrap, and get damaged in different temperature and climate conditions. This is why acclimation of hardwood is necessary. 

To acclimate the hardwood flooring properly, you need to go through a few steps. Following these steps would help the hardwood flooring to adjust to the humidity of the space. Just like the human body adjusts to different weather conditions, hardwood flooring also adjusts with its surroundings. But you should spare time on the hardwood for the adjustment. 

Here are 3 crucial steps to acclimate hardwood flooring: 

Step 1: Know The Moisture Amount In The Hardwood Planks

Note that this procedure has to be very accurate. No assumptions would help in this process. You have to take proper measurements to acclimate hardwood flooring. And the very first task is to know the moisture content of the hardwood flooring to be installed. 

Use a moisture meter to know the moisture content in a hardwood plank. However, measuring the moisture content of one plank won’t suffice. For more accuracy and precision, you should check the moisture content of several planks. Like for every 1000 sq. ft area, checking the moisture content of 40 planks would suffice. 

After measuring it, you have to calculate the average moisture content. For this, you have to determine the change in temperature that occurs during the winter and summer, firstly. When you know the temperature, you can easily determine the moisture content during the summer and winter. Predicting and determining the moisture content becomes way easier and adjusting it to the hardwood moisture content becomes simpler. 

For the final calculation, divide the moisture content of summer by the moisture content of winter. This is the optimum moisture content of the area. Note that if the hardwood planks are made in the area of installation, you don’t need to make the calculations. Because the moisture content is matched to the moisture amount of the area. 

Step 2: Monitor The Temperature In The Room

If you maintain a certain temperature in the room using a heating or cooling system, you should keep the room at that temperature before and after installing the hardwood flooring. 

The optimum temperature of the room should be maintained so that the hardwood planks are brought into the living condition of the room. So do that before you bring the hardwood planks to this area.

However, if the temperature of the room is not monitored, use a temporary dehumidification system in the room so that the temperature is maintained. The fluctuating temperature during the installation can harm the hardwood flooring. 

Step 3: Create The Equilibrium Moisture Content 

To reach equilibrium, the moisture content of the hardwood plank has to match a bit to the subfloor. The drastic difference between the moisture amount of the hardwood and the subfloor can make a mess. 

Ideally, if you are installing wooden strips, the difference between the moisture content of the subfloor and the hardwood strips should be between 4 percent. In the case of installing wide hardwood planks, the difference in moisture content can be 2 percent only. Too much difference in moisture content can cause warping and won’t allow the flooring to settle well on the subfloor. 

When the hardwood flooring reaches the equilibrium position, it is not released or accepts any more moisture. In general, most hardwood flooring has a moisture content of 6 to 9 percent as it is ideal for almost most of the weather conditions. Higher or lower moisture content than that can cause severe damages and affect the installation process too. 

5 Tips To Acclimate Hardwood Flooring: 

Besides acclimating the hardwood flooring, you need to take some precautions as well. My tips to acclimate hardwood flooring are extracted from my experience so that you don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Take my word and follow these tips if you want to see the best result. 

Below are 5 tips that can make acclimation of hardwood flooring easier and effective:

Tip 1: Give Time For Acclimation

You should keep the hardwood flooring in living condition for at least three days. Though there is no hardcore rule or time limit to keep the hardwood planks for acclimation, three days is the minimum time for acclimation. 

Three days are quite enough to make the hardwood flooring match the air moisture condition of the room. Turn on the cooling or heating system so that the hardwood flooring matches the moisture content. In three days, the moisture content would reach the equilibrium point where it won’t lose or gain any moisture anymore. 

Tip 2: Ventilate The Wooden Planks

The wooden planks should be exposed enough to the living condition for adaptability. You should not keep the planks one over another as it would block the maximum portion of the hardwood plank. 

So unpack the hardwood planks immediately and keep them on the subfloor for three days. Make sure that they are nicely exposed to the air. This allows them to adapt to the moisture content of the area. Blocking the planks would hamper the adjustment procedure. 

If you don’t have enough space, place the planks in a criss-cross position to each other for maximizing the exposure. 

Tip 3: Give More Time To Engineered And Unfinished Planks For Acclimation

Two popularly used hardwood flooring options are engineered and unfinished hardwood flooring. Now both these options require more time to acclimate than the other available hardwood flooring options. To see the trendy hardwood flooring ideas, click here.

As both these have adhered to the subfloor, they should be kept for a longer time to adjust to the moisture content in the air. Wait for at least 5 to 7 days to let the engineered and unfinished hardwood planks adjust to the environment. As the VOC adhesives evaporate after installation, they need more time for adaptation. 

Tip 4: Tropical Wood Species Need Time To Acclimate: 

Tropical wood species are always in a very different weather condition than the house condition. When they are trimmed and shaped in planks, they still have the same level of moisture content in them. Also, their losing and gaining rate of moisture varies a lot. 

when you are installing tropical wood planks on the subfloor, make sure that you are offering enough time for it to adjust. As the environmental condition is very different, it would take more time to adjust the living condition inside the room. So spare the time. 

Tip 5: Follow The Guidelines Of The Manufacturer: 

Most hardwood planks provide a manual and guidelines regarding hardwood flooring acclimation. Not all hardwood planks require acclimation. Some hardwood planks can be installed without it as the conditions are matched previously. 

Make sure to check the guidelines before installation. In fact, some would mention the duration and room condition for acclimation of the particular hardwood plank. So read the guideline carefully. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Hardwood Flooring Acclimation: 

Can Hardwood Flooring Be Acclimated In The Box? 

If you don’t unpack the hardwood planks and keep them in the box for acclimation, it would work. But note that the duration for acclimation would be almost double compared to the duration of acclimation after unpacking. 

When the planks are in the box, the hardwood planks don’t get enough exposure to the moisture content in the air. In the box, they are partially exposed. This is the reason why it would need more time to acclimate when the planks are in the box. On the other hand, when the hardwood planks are outside in the living condition, the moisture exposure is more and proper. Thus the acclimation is done fast.

So though you can acclimate hardwood flooring in the box, you should not do it as it is unnecessarily time-consuming and can be less effective. 

Is It Important To Acclimate Hardwood Flooring? 

Though many people don’t care about acclimating hardwood flooring, it is absolutely necessary. The longevity, durability, and shape of the hardwood flooring depend highly on the hardwood flooring acclimation. 

When the hardwood flooring is not acclimated, it won’t be able to adjust well with the moisture and humidity in the area. This problem in adjustment can cause the planks to expand, shrink, break, or warp. Before you install the hardwood planks, it is necessary to let the planks adjust with the moisture condition in the room. 

Therefore yes, acclimation of hardwood flooring is absolutely necessary and important. 

What Happens If You Don’t Acclimate Hardwood Flooring? 

If you don’t let the hardwood plank adjust with the moisture content of the room, the planks would struggle to adjust after installation. And after installation, managing the flooring becomes difficult. 

If you don’t acclimate hardwood flooring, it would expand and shrink after installation with the fluctuating temperature. When this happens, the hardwood planks warp, crack, and can even break. As the planks are not synchronized with the living condition, the changing temperature changes the plank shapes too. This creates a huge mess. But if you acclimate the hardwood flooring, it would be adapted to the moisture content in the room and won’t change shape much. 

Therefore, avoiding hardwood flooring acclimation means risking the longevity and adaptability of the flooring. 

How Do You Acclimate Hardwood Floors Before Installing?

To acclimate hardwood flooring before installation, you need to create a suitable environment. The condition should be the general room condition where it will be installed. Therefore, unpack the box, take out the planks, and keep them in the job site for acclimation. 

Ideally, the humidity in the room should be between 35 to 65%. This range is ideal for effective and quick acclimation. Also, turn on any heating or cooling system in the room that is likely to be on after installation. After you set the condition in the room, leave the planks there for at least three days. Some species may need more time to acclimate. 

After the designated time, the planks should reach the equilibrium point where they neither release nor gain any moisture. Now the acclimation is done and the planks are ready for installation. 

How Do You Stack Hardwood To Acclimate?

When you have a stack of hardwood planks for acclimation, it seems like a hassle. But the task is not as hard as it may sound. 

First, unbox all the planks from the carton and lay the planks randomly on the floor. You can also put one plank over another in a zigzag position. Basically, the aim is to expose as much portion of the plank as possible. So when there are a lot of planks, it is better to place one over another; one vertically and the other one horizontally. This will save some space and also make the acclimation effective. 

What Is The Best Humidity Level For Hardwood Flooring? 

Remember that hardwood flooring can adjust to almost any weather condition. But still, it may not be able to withstand all levels of humidity. Even if the condition is unfavorable, you can try maintaining a certain humidity level in the room. 

Ideally, the humidity of 35 to 55% is the best for hardwood flooring to survive well. This level of humidity prevents shrinking and expanding the flooring much. You can say that this is the optimum level of humidity that hardwood flooring can withstand. 

Therefore, try to maintain a certain level of humidity to let the hardwood flooring survive well in indoor moisture conditions. 

What Is The Best Temperature For Hardwood Flooring? 

If you talk about hardwood flooring expansion and shrinking, the temperature of the area matters as well. Just like the humidity, the temperature also determines the level of changes. 

Ideally, hardwood flooring stays the best when the temperature of the room is between 60 to 80 degrees. This is the optimum temperature at which hardwood flooring can survive well. The sudden changes won’t affect the hardwood flooring much if the temperature is maintained between 60 to 80 degrees. 

So you must try to maintain the temperature of the room to let the hardwood flooring sustain for a long time without breaking or warping.

How Long Does It Take For Hardwood Floors To Acclimate?

Generally, it takes around three days for hardwood floors to acclimate. However, the duration may fluctuate according to the condition of the room. Also, some wood species may require more time to acclimate. 

Some species even take a few weeks to acclimate. This happens when a plank of wood from a very different climate than the job site is installed. For example, tropical woods and engineered woods need around 5 to 7 days for acclimation. Likewise, a lot of other species need more time to acclimate. 

Note that if you can regulate the humidity level and temperature in the room, faster acclimation is possible. 

Final Thoughts: 

Now that you know the importance and procedure of acclimation, attempt to do it before you install hardwood flooring. As there is no alternative to acclimation, consider it seriously for long-term benefits. 

No, when are you planning the acclimation of hardwood flooring? 

Jahidul Alam

Hello dear! This is Jahidul Alam. I am the admin of this Tidy Floor. I have been in the floor cleaning business for the last 20 years. My business is all about ensuring affordable flooring cleaning services for Americans.

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