Should you acclimate your floors?
Wood flooring should only be acclimated in certain situations. Acclimation is only necessary if the flooring and subfloor are outside the optimal moisture content ranges for installation. It is very important that wood flooring is only acclimated to normal living conditions. If the heat and air conditioning is not operational, acclimating floors is counterproductive. Acclimation outside of living conditions will increase the chance of a problem down the road.
What the NWFA says about acclimation:
The process of aligning the wood flooring and the environment it is to be installed in is defined as acclimation, or more accurately, conditioning. This process involves understanding that the wood flooring and the facility are compatible. Unless otherwise directed by the flooring manufacturer, the following guidelines should be followed for acclimation/conditioning of each type of wood flooring.
The values on the accompanying map provide examples of how average moisture contents (MC) for interior use of wood products vary from one region to another, and from one season to another within a region.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Products Laboratory suggests the following MC average and ranges for interior wood products:
- Most areas of the United States: average = 8% MC, ranging from 6-10% MC
- Dry southwestern regions: average = 6% MC, ranging from 4-9% MC
- Damp, warm coastal areas: average = 11% MC, ranging from 8-13% MC
Actual interior MC conditions in any location may differ significantly from these numbers.
Multiple moisture content readings should be taken both of the subfloor and the wood flooring. For our region, 8-10% MC is the optimal readings. According to the NWFA:
The average of the wood subfloor readings should coincide with the manufacturer- required temperature and humidity levels in the facility receiving wood flooring. Where the wood subfloor MC is not aligned with the required conditions in the facility receiving wood, the general rule of thumb is to ensure the MC of the wood subfloor is no more than 4% greater than the MC of solid strip (<3” widths) wood flooring, and no more than 2% greater than the MC of solid plank (≥3” widths) wood flooring being installed.
If the subfloor and flooring are within target moisture contents at time of delivery, the flooring may be installed immediately. If the flooring is higher or lower than the subfloor (and the subfloor is in the optimal range), there should be an acclimation period. There is no set period of acclimation. Acclimation is complete when the subfloor and wood flooring have reached optimal moisture contents.
For more information from the NWFA on acclimation: click here.