Wood flooring is a popular choice for many homeowners due to its durability, warmth, and aesthetic appeal. However, before installing wood flooring, it is essential to acclimate the wood properly to ensure that it is adjusted to the environment in which it will be installed. Acclimation is a process of allowing the wood flooring to adjust to the humidity and temperature of its surroundings. Failing to acclimate wood flooring correctly can result in buckling, warping, and other issues that can compromise the integrity of the floor. In this article we will discuss the proper techniques to acclimating your flooring for a proper installation.
Step 1: Prepare the Installation Site
The first step in acclimating wood flooring is to prepare the installation site. The site must be clean, dry, and free of any debris that could interfere with the acclimation process. You should also check the site’s temperature and humidity levels to ensure that they are within the recommended range for wood flooring installation.
Step 2: Choose the Right Wood
It is essential to choose the right wood for your flooring project. Some wood species are more prone to shrinking, expanding, and warping than others. For example, oak is a stable wood species that is less likely to warp than walnut, which is prone to movement. Make sure to research the wood species you want to use and check its moisture content before installing.
Step 3: Purchase and Store the Wood Properly
Once you have chosen the wood species, it is time to purchase and store the wood properly. You should buy the wood at least one week before installation to give it enough time to acclimate. The wood should be stored in the same environment in which it will be installed, and you should also stack the wood loosely, leaving a gap between each box, to allow air to circulate.
Step 4: Monitor the Moisture Content
During the acclimation process, it is important to monitor the wood’s moisture content. You can use a moisture meter to check the moisture content of the wood regularly. The moisture content should be within 2% of the subfloor’s moisture content. If the moisture content is too high or too low, it can cause problems during installation, such as gapping or cupping.
Step 5: Monitor the Temperature and Humidity Levels
In addition to monitoring the moisture content, it is also important to monitor the temperature and humidity levels. The temperature should be between 60°F and 80°F, and the relative humidity should be between 30% and 55%. These levels should be maintained throughout the acclimation process and during installation to ensure that the wood flooring remains stable. Take note of the seasonal changes as well. During the Winter months, the air could be much more dry than that of Spring or Summer where there is much more humidity naturally. Be sure to install a humidifier or dehumidifier to ensure you can control the level of moisture in the air.
Step 6: Allow Sufficient Time for Acclimation
The length of time required for acclimation depends on the wood species, the size of the boards, and the environment. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should allow at least one week for solid wood and a minimum of 72 hours for engineered wood. Exotic woods like Acacia and Brazilian Teak for areas like the Midwest could take even longer.
Step 7: Inspect the Wood Before Installation
Before installing the wood flooring, you should inspect the boards for any defects or damage that may have occurred during the acclimation process. If you notice any problems, such as warping or bowing, you should replace the affected boards before installation.
Step 8: Install the Wood Flooring
Once the wood flooring has been properly acclimated and installed, your new flooring should have very minimal movement. Check for any gapping or warped boards and be sure to tell your manufacturer right away if an inspection is needed.
Wood flooring is a natural product that can shrink and swell according to its environment. Its important to take the time to acclimate your flooring properly to ensure you do not have issues later down the road. Wood can be a lifelong investment so be sure to work with your installation and sales team to gather all the right information to protecting your new flooring.