Ready to have wood flooring installed in your home? It’s not a buy and install in one day process.
Wood, unlike other flooring choices, has special needs when brought into your home. And because wood flooring is a major investment, it’s wise to understand all of the details before you finish installation. If you install a wood floor before it’s properly acclimated, it can potentially cause buckling or gaping, which the manufacturer will not cover as a part of their warranty.
Even though most manufacturers will provide guidelines on how to acclimate their wood flooring into your home, it’s more than just a time slot that matters. In fact, there are two important characteristics that should be used as a guide when determining the proper process.
Wood floor moisture content and relative humidity in the surrounding area are both vital to a wood floor’s success.
In a perfect world, a wood floor should be dried specifically for the climate in which it will be installed. Since logistics make that almost impossible to perform, the industry has established standards of 6 to 9 percent moisture content instead. This means that depending on where you live, it will have to adjust and perform somewhere outside of these guidelines.
And in order to do that, it has to reach the proper moisture content level in equilibrium with the surrounding environment before it is installed. Most warranties will require that the jobsite be maintained between 30 and 50 percent relative humidity and thosse conditions be maintained before, during and after installation for the life of the floor.
Yet no matter what the guidelines say, its easy assume you’re doing the right thing, and have problems appear anyway. What’s the cause?
In many homes, installing new wood flooring is a part of a remodel process. Yet remodeling can change the moisture and humidity levels of your home substantially. Image a room being taped off, re-drywalled, re-textured, and repainted. All of that change the inside conditions substantially. If you bring in wood flooring during this time period to acclimate to the conditions, it will do so under false conditions. And if installed, it may quickly begin showing gaps in the floor.
Need another example? Colorado is a dry environment, with relative humidity almost always in low range. Where does your hardwood flooring come from? If you are remodeling your home with wood that comes from a substantially more humid area, acclimation may stretch beyond the one week recommendation in order to bring it into line.
Contrary to popular belief, acclimating your wood flooring to your environment has little to do with time, everything to do with bringing it into equilibrium with the environment. If you take the time to acclimate it correctly, your hardwood flooring will give you years of beautiful results.