Hardwood Flooring: How To Acclimate Your Investment
As a homeowner, there’s nothing quite like remodeling or building a custom home. As the details and work gets done, one of the most satisfying moments is when you finally get to lay down your hardwood flooring. All the months of sampling and waiting for your order to arrive culminate in a crescendo of excitement and anticipation, as you are one step closer to your dream home build nearing completion.
Once your hardwood flooring arrives, you need to slow your progress and make sure you let your wood acclimate to its new climate. Deadlines and contractor schedules are tight, but skipping this all-important part of the process could leave you exasperated instead of elated. Why? Read more for some useful tips that will ensure maximum success for your next flooring installation.
Hardwood Flooring- Give It Some Time
Your hardwood flooring comes from a once living organism. Wood moves and flexes depending on temperature and moisture conditions. When it comes to hardwoods, nothing is as dependable and strong as reclaimed teak. But even a wood as strong, and durable as teak flooring will need to get acclimated before installation.
Acclimation of hardwood floor boards is needed to ensure that after making its long journey through many different temperatures via shipping, that the natural moisture content has a chance to arrive at, or near the moisture content of its final destination. This process gives the flooring a chance to adjust with the conditions of your home or office, giving it the best chance of beauty, longevity and consistency for years to come.
Hardwood naturally absorbs and releases moisture from its environment. In basic terms, the wood expands with heat and retracts with cold. So if your wood was made in a hot climate and is going to be installed in a cold New York office building, acclimation is key for successful installation.
Hardwood Flooring Acclimation: Why It’s Important
Consider your flooring and the journey it has made to get to your project. For example: Indoteak Design makes its incredible reclaimed teak flooring from old structures that were demolished, sometimes hundreds of years old. The teak in those structures has withstood the Indonesian heat and humidity for decades.
The ancient wood expanding and retracting, slowly growing stronger and straightening over time. After it’s recycled and turned into reclaimed flooring, in the tropics, it is sent to a California warehouse where it is stored until it’s purchased. As it sits waiting for its forever home, it has the opportunity to adjusted to the temperature and humidity levels of the warehouse, which are certainly different from those inside your home or office.
There, in the warehouse, the wood will either expand or shrink until it has settled on its final Equilibrium Moisture Content(EMC). Now consider you are ordering your flooring from a cold warehouse in winter to a beautiful hotel in the tropics. That trip will send your wood through many temperature variations and allowing it time to acclimate at the final destination is the key for its success.
The results are one of the following:
- Low moisture content will result in the flooring to absorb moisture, which can lead to cupping.
- Too high of a moisture content will make the wood floor retract as it loses moisture, leading to gaps in the floor boards.
How Long Do I Need To Wait For The Acclimation Process?
We can say take as long as you can when it comes to acclimation, but we know that cannot always be a reality. But at the least, we recommend a minimum of 72 hours, but we stress, MINIMUM. If the flooring will be inside with an air conditioner always on, make sure that the air is on and the flooring is in that room for a few days acclimating to the conditions. A moisture meter will help you to compare the moisture content of your new flooring to that of the sub-flooring where it will be installed. It is generally safe to move forward with installation when the difference between these levels reaches 2 percent for plank flooring.
Several factors will determine the length of time you will need to wait for the acclimation process:
- Geographic location
- Current climate conditions
- Moisture content of subfloor
- Research your wood species before it arrives. Different species gain and lose moisture at different rates, especially tropical species shipping from tropical climates.
- If possible, avoid transporting your flooring in excessively moist conditions.
- Upon arrival, have the hardwood flooring stored in a controlled environment where they will be installed.
- Remove flooring from nested bundles and arrange them in layers so the wood is equally exposed on all sides.
- When in doubt, seek the help of a professional.
While some of this may seem intensive, keep in mind that your hardwood flooring is a living, breathing organic thing. Reclaimed teak flooring for instance has a natural beauty, fragrance and calming effect to the touch. It will dramatically enhance your living conditions as well as your homes value. Why not take the extra steps to ensure its longevity?