By Leigh Smith | August 21, 2020
When you purchase hardwood floors, you do NOT want to install them without giving them time to acclimate. This acclimation period is essential for successful hardwood installation. The first thing you will want to do is measure your space's relative humidity and do a moisture test for the subfloor. This is something you will want a professional to do. What is relative humidity? Relative humidity is the air temperature relative to the amount of moisture the air can hold at that temperature before it becomes saturated. For example, when it is cold outside, and we turn on our heat, we often describe it as dry air as our skin tends to crack and dry out. When it is hot outside, and we turn on the air, condensation starts to form on colder objects because cold air does not hold as much vapor as warm air. If the area you live in has humid summers, keep the windows and doors closed so as not to let as much of that hot, vapor filled air inside that could cause your hardwood to swell. The same idea goes for areas with dry, cold winters. Try to keep your space warm with a little humidity, so your floors don't shrink. You'll also want to be sure your subfloor has a proper vapor barrier or underlayment, so moisture cannot seep into your new floor.
Second, you need to identify the type of climate you live in and be mindful of the conditions in your home. If you live in a wet, humid environment and want to install hardwood, you'll need a proper dehumidifying system in your home to ensure that your hardwood won't swell and cup due to excess moisture. If you live in an excessively dry climate, you will need to be sure you can keep your relative humidity at a minimum of 30%. An environment that is too dry can shrink and dry out your hardwood floors, leaving them dull and cracked.
Next, to properly acclimate your hardwood, you need to keep it inside the space (or a space with similar temperatures and humidity) that it will be installed in. DO NOT leave it outside, in a garage, or in a shed that is not climate controlled. This will not allow the hardwood to reach similar levels as its environment and will put you at risk of swelling, buckling, shrinking, or warping. When storing your product, be sure to place it in staggered, smaller stacks. This will allow for even air distribution. The time frame for acclimation typically ranges from 3 to 7 days, depending on your environment and the specifications of the product.
Finally, it is recommended that heating and air conditioning is running in your space during installation, so your hardwood won't have to reacclimate. Some suggest cooling/heating the home with the same settings for about 5 days before installation. Having your HVAC running while your floor is being installed ensures your hardwood is not going to be subject to extreme changes after it has adjusted. Luckily, the recommended temperatures and humidity levels for hardwood floors fall within the comfort range you're probably used to. That's a temperature range between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity between 30%-50%.
In conclusion, always be sure to consult with your salesperson and be sure to read over your product’s warranty. In some instances, if you skip acclimating your hardwood before installation, you could be voiding your warranty. Browse a sample of our vast selection of gorgeous hardwood products, here!