Buying new flooring for your home is an exciting event. All of the time spent picking out the colors, type and planning the installation can be ruined if you don’t let your flooring properly acclimate. Acclimation is the process of becoming used to or accustomed to a new environment or climate.
We have all experienced this when we take a trip from one climate to another, such as a humid climate to a very dry one. You skin dries out and you require more water; flooring is no different in that it has to adjust to different environments. Flooring materials were likely to be manufactured in a different location than where they were installed so they need time to acclimate to the new environment. Another factor could be the conditions in which flooring was shipped; extreme heat or cold can affect the materials and require them to acclimate to their new environment before installation.
Just letting your flooring sit for a few days on the side of the room before installation isn’t always the best approach. Colder temperatures can affect the ability of adhesive to dry and cure. In addition, the flooring materials themselves can become stiffer and more brittle making them more problematic to work with. For hotter climates, adhesives can become challenging to use and flooring materials can become too flexible. The ideal climate for any type of flooring installation should be between 60 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity of 35 – 55%. These conditions should be set and stabilized at least two days before installation and continued for a day or two afterwards. These optimal conditions will ensure that the flooring won’t experience any buckling, contracting or expansion so you will have a smooth, cohesive floor.
While all types of flooring should be given time to acclimate there are some types that require more “nurturing” in the process. Carpet and vinyl flooring need less time to acclimate, but hardwood floors and laminates are more substantially affected by climate changes and require closer adherence to the optimal conditions. Professionals use a concrete moisture meters and wood moisture meters to obtain accurate readings and assess whether or not the acclimation conditions are ideal for installation. If you’re installing flooring yourself, purchase them from a hardware store to make sure the climate is right for your floors.
For new home construction, flooring acclimation can be a particularly challenging issue since the A/C may not have been turned on yet or the flooring installation may have been moved up earlier in the development schedule. The HVAC system should be turned on at least a week prior to installation, windows and doors should be in place and all of the paint should be dry as to not affect any of the installation conditions. Floor installation should always be the last part of any construction project to ensure a long-lasting floor.
Making sure that flooring materials acclimate is an important part of new floor installation. Without the proper conditions established, floors can experience gaps, buckling, wrinkle and bubble. Take the time to ensure that you set the right temperature and humidity before installation and you will have a great looking new floor that will last you many years to come.