Factors including temperature, moisture, and humidity are all present in your home and will have an effect on your new flooring, causing it to expand and contract as conditions change.
Acclimatisation is a process that allows flooring to adjust to its new environment. By leaving the floors inside the room for a period before installation, the natural moisture content of the wood is able to adjust to the new conditions. In the long term, this crucial first step will help to reduce gapping, swelling or buckling of the floors after installation.
When flooring material is delivered to a job site, you should ideally 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 2-14 days depending on your chosen product and the site conditions. Professionals will recommend that you bring the hardwood floors into your home for a minimum of two weeks for the best results.
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. Always refer to manufacturer guidelines for the final word on your flooring before attempting installation.
|Solid Wood flooring||7 days|
|Engineered Wood flooring||2 days|
|Lamiate flooring||2 days|
|Luxury Vinyl flooring||2 days|
Storage before installation
While your floor is acclimatising you should take care to store it properly to avoid damage and help the acclimatisation process.
If possible, store the flooring where it will be installed. Although it might seem easier to leave it in the garage or somewhere else you have space, the flooring will only acclimatise properly if you store it in the place where it will be fitted, or somewhere with similar conditions of temperature and humidity.
Lay the flooring flat
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.
Don't stack it too high
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 safety hazard and cause difficulties when moving the flooring. Safety should be your number one concern when you store your flooring.
Make sure you 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 Health and Safety Executive.
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 will result in a different humidity level than when occupants of the house are at home and the heat or air conditioner is turned on.
The goal of acclimatising your floor is to let it adjust to the normal living conditions so you should make the necessary adjustments to your room.
These are just a few basic points to look out for when having your floor acclimatise to its surroundings. Before installation, be sure you have read and understood the manufactures guides supplied with the floor.
Check Jobsite Conditions
The area’s temperature and humidity conditions must be measured prior to installation and fall into an 18-24⁰C temperature range within 45-65% relative humidity. Be sure to also check the moisture content (MC) levels of your chosen product; it should not exceed 8-12%. Please, remember to allow for any wet trade work before commencing your acclimatisation period, as residual moisture in the subfloor and walls will have an effect on the final outcome of your installation.
Check Weather Conditions
There’s a very good chance that if your flooring is delivered during a damp or rainy day, it will already be absorbing moisture. In this case allow several more days for acclimatisation, otherwise you can expect some shrinking and cracking within a few months after installation.
What can go wrong?
If you do not follow the advice of UK Flooring Direct to establish the ideal conditions for your flooring, you risk later problems such as cracking and splitting when dry, or expansion related issues such as bowing 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.