Your wooden floor, as solid and unmoving as it is now, was once a living, breathing, growing object. As such, it is organic and will inevitably have reactions to other natural factors.
These factors include temperature, moisture, and humidity – factors that are all present in your home. Thus, a fairly simple and ordinary process called acclimation will prove to be beneficial for all those looking to install hardwood, and other types of flooring for that matter, in their homes.
Acclimatization is a process that allows wood to adjust to its new environment. By leaving the floors inside the room for a certain period of time, the natural moisture content of the wood is able to adjust to the relative normal conditions of where it will be installed. In the long run, this crucial first step will help prevent the gapping, swelling or buckling of floors after installation.
When flooring material is delivered to a job site, you should use a moisture meter to check the moisture content of the hardwood floors before installation.
The wood will acclimatise to the indoor humidity and temperature in about 10-14 days. Most professionals actually recommend that you bring the hardwood floors into your home for a minimum of two weeks for best results. The process of getting your wood floors properly acclimated is quite simple:
Check Jobsite Conditions
The area’s temperature and humidity conditions must be measured prior to installation. Moisture levels should not exceed 12-14%.
Check Weather Conditions
There’s a very good chance that if your solid wood flooring is delivered during a damp or rainy day, it will absorb moisture, in which case allow several more days for the floor to acclimatize. Similarly, if floors are installed under these conditions, you can expect some shrinking and cracking within a few months after installation.
Check Plastering and Painting
Moisture evaporates from damp walls straight into the air inside the house, and some of this will definitely be absorbed by the wood floor. Do not have your floors delivered or fitted until after paint is completely dry.
Check Humidity at the Jobsite
In many cases, installation will be done when the occupants of the house are away and when heating or cooling is turned off. This results in a differential humidity level than when occupants of the house are at home and the heater or air conditioner is turned on.
The goal of acclimatizing floors is to let it adjust to normal living conditions; hence, you should make the necessary adjustments. These are just a few basic points to look out for when having your floors acclimated.
Whatever steps you have already mapped out, be sure you perform this crucial rule of thumb before installation. For help in measuring moisture level, refer to our article on moisture testing.