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Does Engineered Hardwood Need to Acclimate: 7 Steps [DIY]

Does Engineered Hardwood Need to Acclimate

Last Updated on June 24, 2023

When you plan to install engineered hardwood flooring in your home, you may wonder if you need to acclimate the flooring before installation.

A successful and long-lasting installation requires the acclimation of engineered hardwood flooring. Acclimation lets the engineered hardwood flooring adjust to the humidity and temperature of its environment before installation.

Failure to acclimate the flooring can result in gaps, buckling, and warping of the planks. Manufacturers typically recommend acclimating engineered hardwood floors for at least 48 hours or until they reach their acceptable moisture content.

We will discuss how to properly acclimate your engineered hardwood and what to do if the flooring has been installed without acclimation.

How to Acclimate Engineered Hardwood Flooring?

How to Acclimate Engineered Hardwood Flooring

To acclimatize your engineered hardwood flooring, follow a few key steps. Here’s a quick overview:

Step #1: Prepare the installation site

Step #2: Measure the moisture content

Step #3: Unbox the hardwood

Step #4: Create airflow

Step #5: Maintain stable conditions

Step #6: Check for acclimation completion

Step #7: Begin installation

Let’s get into the details.

Step #1: Prepare the Installation Site

Before starting the installation, make sure the site is ready by cleaning and drying the room and ensuring a stable temperature and humidity level to avoid any issues with the engineered hardwood. Here are some steps to take to prepare the installation site:

  • Clear the room of any debris or furniture. The site should be clean and free of obstructions to allow easy installation.
  • Check the subfloor for any damage or unevenness. The subfloor should be flat and even to ensure the engineered hardwood is properly installed.
  • Test the humidity and temperature of the room. The humidity level should be between 35-55% and the temperature should be between 60-80°F. This will prevent any issues with the flooring expanding or contracting later on.
  • Check for any moisture issues or leaks that could affect the flooring.Moisture can cause the flooring warping or buckling, so addressing any issues before installation is important.

Step #2: Measure the Moisture Content

Once the site is prepped and ready to go, it’s time to get a baseline measurement of the moisture content in both the subfloor and the engineered hardwood flooring.

The subfloor’s moisture content (MC) should be between 6% and 9%, while the MC of the engineered hardwood flooring should be within 2% of the subfloor MC.

This will ensure the flooring is properly acclimated and reduce the risk of future problems such as warping or bulging.

Using a moisture meter, take several readings throughout the installation site, especially in areas where moisture may be present such as near windows or doors. Record the readings and compare them to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the specific type of flooring you’re installing.

If the MC of the flooring is significantly different from the subfloor, acclimation may be necessary. This involves leaving the flooring in the installation site for a while to allow it to adjust to the temperature and humidity of the room.

Step #3: Unbox the Hardwood

Unbox the Hardwood

Let’s unbox the hardwood. But remember not to remove the plastic packaging from each plank at this stage. This step allows the engineered hardwood to acclimate to the environment without being exposed to excessive moisture or humidity.

It involves allowing the flooring to adjust to the room temperature and humidity levels it will be installed in. If you don’t acclimate your flooring, it could result in warping, buckling, or gaps between the planks.

Therefore, it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and allow the planks to acclimate for the specified period before installation.

Step #4: Create Airflow

Now that you’ve unboxed your engineered hardwood flooring, it’s time to create proper airflow around it. It ensures the longevity and durability of your flooring.

Cross-stacking the planks is the best way to promote airflow. Placing the planks in a single layer and staggering them allows air circulation between the boards. Make sure to leave gaps between the planks to promote airflow further.

Creating proper airflow is especially important in a humid or damp environment. Moisture can seep into the flooring and cause warping or buckling, which can be costly to repair.

Step #5: Maintain Stable Conditions

Maintaining stable environmental conditions is crucial for ensuring the longevity and durability of your newly installed engineered hardwood flooring. Regarding acclimation, you need to create airflow and maintain a stable environment in the installation area.

Keeping the temperature between 65-75°F (18-23°C) and the relative humidity between 35% and 55% is key. Extreme temperature fluctuations or exposure to direct sunlight can cause the flooring to expand or contract, leading to gaps or buckling.

To maintain stable conditions, you should control the humidity and temperature in the installation area. This can include using a dehumidifier or humidifier to regulate the moisture in the air and avoid sudden temperature changes.

It’s also essential to avoid exposing the flooring to direct sunlight, as this can cause fading and discoloration.

Step #6: Check for Acclimation Completion

Once you’ve allowed for proper acclimation, it’s time to check if your new engineered hardwood flooring is ready to be installed.

Checking for acclimation completion is crucial to ensure that the flooring will perform well and last long. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Use the moisture meter to measure the moisture content again. This will tell you if the flooring has reached its acceptable moisture content.
  • Compare the current moisture measurement to the initial measurement taken before acclimation. If there’s a significant difference, wait for the flooring to acclimate some more.
  • Check the temperature and humidity levels in the room. They should be within the range specified by the flooring manufacturer.
  • Do a visual inspection of the flooring. Look for any warping, cupping, or other visible signs of moisture damage.

Step #7: Begin Installation

It’s time to start installing your new flooring. You’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the appropriate adhesives or fasteners to ensure a successful installation.

Remember, the engineered hardwood flooring must have acclimated and reached the recommended moisture content before installation. This ensures that the flooring will not expand or contract after installation, causing damage to the floor.

Before beginning installation, ensure all the necessary tools and materials are on hand. You’ll need a saw, hammer, measuring tape, spacers, and the appropriate adhesive or fasteners.

Also, prepare the subfloor by ensuring that it is clean, level, and dry. Once everything is in place, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance on the appropriate installation techniques.

What should you do if the engineered hardwood flooring has already been installed without proper acclimation?

What should you do if the engineered hardwood flooring has already been installed without proper acclimation

If you’ve already installed engineered hardwood flooring without acclimation, closely monitor it for signs of cupping, buckling, or gaps between the planks.

While some issues may stabilize over time as the flooring adjusts to the environment, persistent or worsening problems may require the replacement of affected areas or the entire floor.

It’s crucial to assess the severity of the issues and determine the best course of action on a case-by-case basis. Don’t ignore potential problems, as a timely response can save you significant time and money in the long run.

How long after acclimation should furniture or rugs be placed on newly installed engineered hardwood flooring?

After installation and acclimation of engineered hardwood flooring, it’s crucial to allow ample time before placing furniture or rugs on it to prevent damage.

The recommended waiting period varies depending on environmental factors, flooring type, and manufacturer’s instructions. But waiting at least 24 to 48 hours is generally recommended before introducing heavy furniture or rugs.

This waiting period allows the flooring to settle, adjust to the environment, and minimize the risk of causing indentations or damage.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and take necessary precautions to ensure your new flooring stays pristine for years to come.

Can engineered hardwood acclimate in the box?

Engineered hardwood can acclimate in the box, but the process may take longer than usual. Since air circulation is lacking, the flooring may take a few weeks to adjust to the environment.

Please note that acclimating the flooring is crucial to ensure it does not expand or contract after installation, which could cause damage.

Prepare Your Hardwood: Acclimate Before Installing

Acclimating your engineered hardwood flooring before you install it is absolutely essential. This will help ensure that your flooring adapts to the temperature and humidity of your home, preventing issues such as gaps, warping, or buckling.

To acclimatize your flooring, keep it in the room where it will be installed for at least 48 hours, ensuring that the temperature and humidity levels are consistent with those of your home.

Proper acclimation ensures a long-lasting and beautiful addition to your home.

Does Engineered Hardwood Need to Acclimate: 7 Steps [DIY]

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