How Long Does Hardwood Flooring Need to Acclimate Before Installation?
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When you’re installing a new floor, there are some things you must take into consideration. One of those is the wood species you’re using.
The type of wood your floors are made from can have a big impact on how they look and feel. Some species have more natural variation in their grain patterns and colors than others, giving them unique character.
Choosing a species of hardwood flooring that best suits your decor style can help you get the most out of your investment. There are a lot of species to choose from, and each comes with its own unique traits.
Color, brightness, character and durability are all variables that can affect your decision. Hardwood flooring that’s a good fit for your decor has to be durable, but it also needs to work with your furniture and fixtures.
Depending on your choice of hardwood species, you may need to acclimate it before installation. This will ensure the wood is at a moisture level that’s compatible with your living environment. This is especially important for unfinished solid planks.
Moisture content in hardwood floors will fluctuate due to temperature, humidity, and the environment. Keeping the wood in an EMC range of 6 to 9 percent is crucial to minimizing warping, cracking and other problems with the flooring later on.
If the wood is in excess of this range, it will be difficult to acclimate without major dimensional change, distortion and structural damage. This is why it’s important to establish a baseline before delivery.
It’s also recommended to test the subfloor using a moisture meter before installing the new hardwood. This will help determine if the moisture content of the floorboards is too high for the subfloor to handle.
For thin hardwood planks less than 76mm, the moisture content of the subfloor and the hardwood should be within 2% of each other. If they are more than 4%, the subfloor and the hardwood must be acclimatized before installation begins. This can take anywhere from 5 to 14 days.
If you don’t give your hardwoods a chance to acclimate to the environment before installation, you could end up with cupped or warped floorboards. They also can expand or contract causing problems like gaps and structural damage.
This is because air pockets can only hold a certain amount of water vapor at any given temperature. Warmer air, for various physical and chemical reasons, can hold more than colder air.
Relative humidity (RH) is a measure of the amount of water vapor in the air at any given time compared to how much the air can hold at a certain temperature.
Using this information, a flooring professional can determine when the moisture content of a wood floor is in equilibrium with its surroundings. This is called the equilibrium moisture content (EMC) and is critical for hardwood floor installation.
The length of time a wood floor needs to acclimate depends on the species and product. But a good rule of thumb is to acclimate hardwood flooring for a minimum of three days before installation.
During acclimation, the wood is trying to find equilibrium with the subfloor moisture content (EMC) and the surrounding air. Once EMC is achieved, it's safe to install the floors.
If the wood hasn't acclimated correctly, it can warp or shrink so much that gaps will form in the planks, making the floors look like they're made of bathroom tiles instead of hardwood.
To acclimate hardwood properly, it should be stored in the same room where it will be installed and where the humidity is similar to the humidity in that room. Basements are typically more humid than other rooms, so acclimating the wood in that area is important.
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When you’re installing a new floor, there are some things you must take into consideration. One of those is the wood species you’re using. The type of wood your floors are made from can have a big impact on how they look and feel. Some species have more natural variation in their grain patterns and…