Acclimatisation, according to Wikipedia is “the process in which an individual organism adjusts to a gradual change in its environment (such as a change in temperature, humidity…)”. In other words, it is concerned with allowing something that has come from a different environment to adjust to a new environment and to adapt to that environment. When it comes to wood flooring, what this often means is taking it from a cold warehouse environment and putting it into the room where it’s going to spend its new life.
Why is it important?
Because wood flooring is a natural product, it expands and contracts naturally with changes in both temperature and moisture levels. While a tree is out in the open, this is not an issue whatsoever, but once it has been processed and laid as a floor in your home, it’s best to do all you can to reduce the factors that will cause it to expand and contract.
The reason for this is that excessive expansion and contraction can lead to both gaps in your floor and warping and, or cupping of the boards, neither of which make for a good-looking floor. It is for all these reasons that it’s important to get your new wood floor well ahead of time and store it in its new environment for at least two weeks if at all possible. By doing this, your floor will have become accustomed to its new environment and will have done any excessive expansion or contraction before you lay it.
Do both solid and engineered wood flooring need to be acclimatised?
This is a good question, because you’d be forgiven for thinking that engineered wood flooring’s resistance to expansion and contraction means that you don’t need to acclimatise it. In fact, you’d be foolish to think this way. The best solution is to acclimatise both engineered and solid wood flooring before laying it to ensure the best possible conditions for the long-term.
Should I do it?
Absolutely, without question. If you fail to acclimatise your new floor, you could end up with unsightly gaps or even worse, cupped or warped boards because they have either shrunk or they have expanded and are pressing up against each other. While you can always fill gaps, sorting out cupping or warping is a nightmare and to be avoided at all costs. At the end of the day, it’s well worth taking the time and making the effort to protect your investment.
How do I do it?
Ideally you should acclimatise new wood flooring in the location and conditions in which it will be laid. That said, if for example, you are laying your wood floor in a new-build or in a room that has been recently plastered, it’s important to make sure that the conditions for acclimatisation are how they will be after the floor has been laid. That’s to say, that the moisture levels in the air aren’t artificially increased by plaster that’s drying out and temperatures aren’t excessively low because the windows haven’t been fitted yet!
Where should I do it?
For acclimatisation to have the optimum effect on your wood flooring, it’s best if you can carry out the process in the room you’re going to lay the floor, with the conditions in the room as they will be once the floor has been laid (see note above about newly plastered rooms). NB. It’s important to make sure that the anticipated post-installation temperature and moisture level have been maintained in the room prior to laying out the flooring for between 5 and 10 days.
Should I leave the flooring in its boxes or not?
The answer to this question is yes. To acclimatise your flooring, leave it sealed in its boxes, which you should lay horizontally, ideally one on top of the other.
How long will it take?
If your room conditions are already how they will be after installation, you should allow your new floor to acclimatise for around 2 weeks before laying it. If you are working in a new build or a renovation, you should add 5 to 10 days to this time (depending on the extremity of the conditions) in order to allow the room to reach anticipated post-installation conditions.
If you’d like to discuss the acclimatisation of your new floor, why not get in touch?