If you're having hardwood floors installed in your home, your contractor may have told you that the boards need to be acclimated before they can be installed. No doubt you're excited to finish up your flooring project, but this step is important for the beauty and integrity of your new hardwood floors. Knowing why your floors need to be acclimated might make the waiting process seem a little more worthwhile, so this FAQ discusses the importance of hardwood floor acclimation.
Why do your hardwood floorboards need to be acclimated prior to installation?
Hardwood is a hygroscopic material, which means it absorbs water from the air until it reaches an equilibrium with the environment. In humid environments, hardwood floorboards absorb moisture and swell. In dry environments, hardwood floorboards lose moisture and shrink. When the hardwood floorboards arrive at your home, they'll have a moisture content that is equal the to the humidity of the environment where they were previously stored. Once the floorboards have been in your home for a while, they'll start to adjust to the moisture content of your home. This will either cause the floorboards to shrink or swell slightly, depending on the conditions in your home and the conditions where they were stored previously. Acclimating the floorboards once they arrive will enable them to shrink or swell until they're in balance with the environment.
What can happen if you don't acclimate the floorboards before installing them?
If you don't acclimate the floorboards prior to installation, the floorboards may swell or shrink after installation. If the floorboards shrink, there could be permanent gaps between boards. If the boards swell, this could result in a condition called "cupping." Cupped floorboards are boards that have swollen so much that they've begun to push up against one another at the edges. Cupped floorboards have high edges and a dip in the middle.
What needs to be done in order to acclimate hardwood floors?
Before the hardwood floor installation, the boards must be allowed to sit outside the packaging in your home until they have reached an equilibrium with the environment.
How long does it take to acclimate hardwood floors?
The length of time it takes to acclimate depends on many factors including the type of wood being installed, the size of the floorboards and the relative temperature and humidity of your home. Your hardwood floor contractor will have to monitor your floorboards with a moisture meter until the boards waiting to be installed have reached a moisture content similar to the subfloor of your home.
For more information, contact Carpet World & Floor Covering or a similar company.