The Education Centre: How to acclimatise your Floor?

Every building has its own natural humidity level, which will most likely be different to the environment where your floor has been stored whilst it was waiting to be selected.

Factors including temperature or moisture all effect the relative humidity of your home, office or shop. Changes in these can affect your floor – making it contract or expand. This change, while unnoticeable to the eye on a single plank or tile, can make a dramatic difference on an overall floor once fitted, leading to gaps, buckling, warping or even cupping.

Thankfully, by acclimatising your floor to the new environment of your home, office or shop you can mitigate this risk and fortunately for you, it’s extremely simple to do. Simply leave your new flooring, in the boxes it has arrived in, in the room you intend the flooring to be fitted for as many days as the chart below recommends as a minimum. Remember to try and keep the room at the temperature it will be when in use.

This simple method allows the natural moisture content and temperature of the wood, laminate or vinyl to adjust to the new conditions.

When your new floor is delivered to your home, office or shop you should ideally use a moisture meter to check the moisture content of the hardwood floors before installation. These are readily available from any tool seller.

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How long do I need to acclimatise my floor?

The table below provides a list of the minimum amount of acclimatisation time that should be allowed for each type of flooring, most professional fitters recommend a 14-day period for any floor before installation. Always refer to manufacturer guidelines for the final word on your exact floor for minimum days to allow for acclimation.

Solid Wood flooring7 days
Engineered Wood flooring2 days
Laminate flooring2 days
Luxury Vinyl flooring2 days

How should I store my floor for acclimation?

While your floor is acclimatising you should take care to store it properly to avoid health and safety risks, damage and to help the acclimatisation process.

Leaning packs of flooring against the wall or standing on their edge might seem like a good idea to save some space, but it will damage your flooring. We strongly advise that all flooring be laid down flat, as propping it up will likely cause bowing of the boards, or other damage that will miss-shape them.

Some packs of flooring can be very heavy, so please make sure that when you stack them they are stable and not too high. This may constitute a health and safety hazard and cause difficulties when moving the flooring for installation. Safety should be your number one concern when you store your flooring.

As tempting as it may be to rip open the packaging to have a look or store them individually to speed up the acclimatisation process, this can cause damage to your floor. Storing them in their original packaging prevents warping and ensures that all the pack contents acclimatise at a similar rate. It also offers more protection to the products while that are being stored.

Lift the flooring safely!

Back injuries are a common hazard, but the risk of these can be minimised if you follow safety advice for lifting heavy objects. This is available online via the NHS or the Healthy and Safety Executive.

Check the humidity and temperature

To ensure the floor is ready for installation, make sure you check the installation area’s temperature and humidity conditions 7 days before your flooring is delivered, during the floor’s acclimation and prior to installation. These measurements need to fall within 18-24⁰C temperature range with 45-65% relative humidity. Be sure to also check the moisture content (MC) levels of your chosen floor; it should not exceed 8-12% before installation.

It is not uncommon for a floor to be installed in renovation project, new build or room redecoration. This can lead to artificial levels of humidity within the installation room. Please allow for a minimum of 7 days after any wet trade work (such as plastering) before you start to acclimatise your floor.

Check weather conditions

If your flooring is delivered during a damp or rainy day, it will already be absorbing additional moisture. In this case allow 7 more days for acclimatisation.

What can go wrong if I don’t acclimatise my floor?

If you do not follow the advice of UK Flooring Direct to establish the ideal conditions for your flooring and allow time for your floor to acclimatise, you risk later problems such as cracking, warping and splitting when drying, or expansion related issues such as bowing, buckling and cupping when the conditions are too moist.

Please remember to retain a copy of your checks so that if later issues do arise, you will have something to compare against, to establish the best course to take in dealing with the problem.

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