Acclimation Before Hardwood Flooring Installation: Why Is It Important?

When things go wrong with your wood flooring, it is typically related to moisture. Hardwood flooring is very much susceptible to damages due to moisture or humidity. Thus, it is customary to properly prepare the job site to avoid any moisture-related problems in the future. Before hardwood flooring installation, the floor needs to reach a specific moisture level that should be in equilibrium with its surrounding environment. This process is called hardwood acclimation, a crucial step you must know to ensure that your hardwood floor stays in place and gets a lifetime of quality use. So, to prevent excessive expansion, dimensional distortion, shrinkage, or any structural damages in the long run, here are some important guidelines before you start installing your hardwood.

hardwood flooring installation

The Effects Of Moisture         

Hardwood and moisture are enemies. Just like human bodies, your hardwood flooring needs to be within an ideal range of humidity and temperature for optimal performance. When the air gets drier and the temperature becomes cooler, your hardwood floor normally contracts. On the other hand, your hardwood flooring expands during warmer temperatures. This is why you need to control the level of humidity inside your home, so your hardwood floor will keep contracting or expanding to a minimum level only. To achieve an optimal performance of your wood flooring, the relative humidity inside your home should range between 30% to 50% year-round. This means that you must keep the temperature between 60°F and 80°F. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, so you need to ask a flooring specialist in your area before hardwood flooring installation.  


Hardwood Acclimation

According to the NWFA (or National Wood Flooring Association), wood floor acclimation is pertaining to the “process of adjusting (conditioning) the moisture content of wood flooring to the environment in which it is expected to perform.” This process allows your hardwood flooring to properly adjust to the conditions of the surrounding environment (or your living space). This is the reason why the temperature and humidity need to be controlled and monitored, so your hardwood floor performs best.


Importance of Hardwood Acclimation

Is hardwood acclimation a critical procedure? Is it really important? Undoubtedly, the answer is a resounding Yes.


Hardwood is a hygroscopic material, meaning it will naturally take on and release moisture from its surrounding environment. As it takes on or loses too much moisture, hardwood becomes susceptible to damages. It can shrink, split or expand because of moisture changes. If your hardwood floor absorbs too much moisture before installation, it will begin to expand in width. This is where you will notice some swelling or cupping of hardwood floorboards, which will eventually produce squeaky sounds once installed. On the other hand, if your hardwood floor loses too much moisture, it becomes too dry and starts to shrink in width. Gaps in between boards will appear, causing your hardwood floor to fail down the road.


Acclimation is very important before hardwood flooring installation. It allows the wood floor time to adjust to the climate conditions and humidity inside your home. It is a critical step that one must follow before installation, so won’t expect a variety of issues that will arise in years to come.


Ways To Acclimate Before Hardwood Flooring Installation

Now that you know why the process of hardwood acclimation is necessary, it is equally as important to understand how to acclimate wood properly. Whether you will hire a hardwood specialist or do the hardwood flooring installation on your own, here are some guidelines you need to be aware of.


Step 1: Climate Control Your Home

Before you bring in the hardwood flooring to the job site, you must check the climate condition or environment of the room where the wood flooring will acclimate. Use a hygrometer and make sure to record the humidity and temperature levels of the environment.  As much as possible, your home requires to be climate-controlled for 2 weeks before the flooring is delivered to the job site. Keep the thermostat at the average normal living conditions.


Step 2: Know How To Measure The Moisture Content

Immediately after the delivery of wood flooring, measure the moisture content of the wood using a moisture meter. This will establish your baseline measurement for hardwood acclimation. Make sure to cut open any inner plastic wrapping, so you can properly acclimate the wood floor. Although the installer is the final inspector of the wood floors, it is helpful to catch any problems before hardwood flooring installation.


Set the moisture meter to the right setting depending on the wood species. To make sure that you are getting a more accurate measurement, check the moisture content of several boards. Normally, you can measure 40 boards per 1000 square feet of wood flooring. You can also measure the moisture content of the subfloor. Acclimation before hardwood flooring installation may not be necessary if proper relative humidity conditions are well-maintained and the flooring is delivered and recorded at its baseline moisture content with your geographical location. You can always consult a hardwood flooring specialist to help you out.


Step 3: Cross Stack The Boxes

Bring in the boxes of the wood floor and space them apart. Cross stack all the boxes to ensure that the air can freely circulate throughout the flooring. Make sure to open the plastic wrapping and cardboard flap of each box.


Step 4: Know When It’s Already Acclimated

You will know when the flooring is acclimated once it reaches equilibrium with your living space maintained at average normal living conditions. There is really a science behind hardwood acclimation. This is why you need help from a hardwood flooring specialist to do it properly. Determining when the hardwood flooring is in its equilibrium entails good judgment. It is based on experience, factual readings, and the conditions of your geographical location. You need to make sure that your flooring is within 2% of the subfloor. You must also climate control your home for at least two weeks. And lastly, the moisture content of your flooring needs to be within the level of the moisture content of your geographical location.


Contact Us For Assistance

Hardwood is a breathing, sustainable material used for flooring for centuries. It adds beauty and luxury to your home if properly installed and maintained. Before hardwood flooring installation, you need to consider special measures to avoid a variety of problems in the future. This is also the main reason why you must seek assistance from a hardwood specialist to not only install your flooring properly but also provide you with the right knowledge and best practices in taking care of your wood flooring. If you are on the lookout for a reputable hardwood specialist in Maryland, don’t hesitate to contact Carpet Ready. We take pride in providing our clients with elegantly and correctly installed hardwood floors. Schedule an in-home consultation today!


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