Acclimating wood floors before installation

Acclimation, sometimes called conditioning, is the process of allowing wood to reach its equilibrium moisture content (EMC) within “normal living conditions.” 

Proper acclimation is one of the most important steps of hardwood floor installation. Not properly acclimating or conditioning wood flooring may cause excessive expansion, shrinkage, dimensional distortion, or even structural damage.

Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Make sure that the heating and air conditioning units including humidifiers and dehumidifiers (depending on region) are in operation at least five days before delivery of the flooring, during installation, and after the flooring is installed. 

Step 2: Once the facility has been confirmed to be at the expected living condition in accordance with ADM Flooring installation and warranty guidelines, proceed with delivery of flooring material. Check the moisture content of the wood flooring as soon as it is received at the jobsite.

Step 3: Check the moisture content of the subfloor with a moisture meter. The moisture content of the subfloor should coincide with the temperature and relative humidity level of the jobsite, based on the temperature, relative humidity and average moisture content guidelines provided by ADM Flooring.

This moisture content reading will give you a good idea of where the conditions in the facility are being maintained and allow you to compare to the expected “normal living conditions”.

Step 4: Ensure the flooring material is exposed to the “normal” conditions of the environment in which it is being installed. To accomplish this, break the flooring units into small lots and open the flooring packages. Arrange and organize the flooring material by removing the flooring from the original packaging and having them stacked vertically with a goal of 4-foot (minimum) stacks and place these stacks in their designated rooms based on square footage that will be installed in the given area. It is advisable to leave about 10% of the packages unopened just in case you have excess and would like to return some packages. ADM Flooring only accepts returns of unopened boxes. Start stacking elevated from the subfloor with a flat full-length and width spacer beneath each stack to allow for air circulation. Acclimate to equilibrium moisture content for as long as it takes based on the climate conditions. For engineered hardwood flooring, this time frame is typically 3-5 days (depending on region). It is never a good idea to base acclimation on time alone, but rather on actual moisture levels. Review the ADM Flooring installation instructions and warranty documents before beginning this stage.

Step 5: Finally, make sure the hardwood flooring and wood subfloor moisture content is within the acceptable range for the jobsite. If installing on a concrete subfloor, make sure that the flooring moisture content is within the ADM Flooring installation guidelines.

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