Wood Floor Maintenance

How To Acclimate Wood Flooring

Rob Patwary

Rob Patwary

August 15, 2020

The wood floors that you have searched tirelessly for and spent hours researching have finally arrived but, before you start clearing out the room and ripping up your old flooring, there’s something else that needs to be done.

The installation of wood floors doesn’t start with the actual fitting process.

There is a step prior to this which is very important but often overlooked when wood floors aren’t fitted by a professional, and this step is called acclimatisation.

What is acclimatisation?

Acclimatisation is the process of allowing your wood floors to reach its equilibrium moisture content (EMC) so that it’s at the optimum level for the environment.

In simpler terms, it’s the process of allowing your wood floors to sit in the room or space where they are going to be fitted for a number of days beforehand so that they have time to adjust to the temperature and moisture content of this new environment.

Why is it important to acclimate wood flooring?

The humidity level in the room or space where the wood flooring is being installed will differ to that of the humidity level in the environment where the flooring was being stored which is, usually, in a cold warehouse.

As a result, the wood will react to these changes in moisture and temperature by contracting or expanding which can lead to unsightly gaps, buckling and warping once the flooring has been fitted.

In order to avoid this, you need to acclimate the wood so that any movement or changes in shape has taken place before the boards are fitted.

How do you acclimate wood flooring?

To acclimate wood flooring you need to allow it to sit in the room or space where it’s being fitted so that it can adjust to the new environment.

This requires you to ensure that the room temperature and humidity are controlled and set to the typical levels, i.e. if your home is particularly hot due to a heatwave; whereas, it would normally be quite cool, then you will need to do whatever you can to keep the temperature down. Similarly, if it’s the middle of winter and your boiler is broken so your house is far colder than it would normally be, you will need to get the temperature up in the room where the wood flooring is being fitted.

Once the conditions in the room are stable, and you have everything in place to keep it this way over the course of acclimatisation, you can then store the wood in that room.

There are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to acclimating the wood correctly to prevent any safety risks and avoid causing any damage to the flooring planks.

Inner Space Flooring

This means laying the packs of wood flat and stacking them safely on top of one another to prevent anything from falling over.

Furthermore, you need to ensure that every half a meter of wood is supported to stop bowing in the middle of the packing and to allow for the air and humidity to be distributed equally.

You should also avoid leaning the wood against the wall or standing the planks on their edges as this can cause damage and present a safety risk.

Whether or not to keep the wood flooring in its original packaging is widely debated amongst professionals.

On the one hand, if the wood remains stored in its packaging with only the ends of each box open to allow air circulation, it’s argued that this will allow all the wood flooring to acclimate at a similar rate, prevent any warping and provide further protection to the wood whilst it is being stored. This is the most popular method for most professional fitters.

Alternatively, if you remove the wood flooring from its packaging and lay out the individual boards, it’s believed that this will be more effective and faster in acclimating the wood - but this is only possible if you have the space to do so.

It’s best that you check the manufacturer's instructions as the best method of acclimatisation will be dependent on the grade and species of wood.

How long does it take to acclimate wood floors?

The process of acclimating wood floors takes a minimum of three days but the true appropriate length of time will vary depending on the wood species and the moisture content levels in that room.

Certain species of wood may take longer to acclimate due to their higher moisture content and rooms with an extreme low or high moisture content level will also take longer with, in some cases, acclimatisation taking as long as 14 days.

Once the moisture content between the floor and subfloor is within 3%, your work is complete and the floor is ready to be installed.

If you require the services of a professional wood flooring fitter to make sure that acclimatisation has been carried out correctly, then we have a team of experts ready to help.
We can also supply a wide range of quality hardwood flooring, or refinish floors that need a bit of TLC.

Call us now on 0121 684 4772 for more information.