As the UK’s leading flooring experts, we’re often asked our advice on how to lay a wooden floor, avoiding problems such as buckling or gapping? My answer is that preparation is key, and acclimatisation is particularly important. Wood is beautiful, but can also be sensitive, which is why acclimatisation is such an important part of the process. Essentially it means conditioning the wooden flooring’s moisture content to the living environment it will be installed in. By taking this seriously, you should prevent problems such as buckling or gapping and get the beautiful floor you want. Wood must be given time to adjust to the temperature and humidity of its new surroundings, it’s a settling in process, literally making your wooden flooring feel at home.
The environment the wood will be fitted in should be controlled before delivery. For example, wet elements such as plaster and paint must be completely dry.
A job site’s relative humidity should fall between 45-60% and can be monitored using a hygrometer. It is also important to ensure doors and windows are properly installed and functioning, so you can guarantee the building is wind and water tight and can control the atmosphere. The optimal temperature of the site during acclimatisation is 18°C.
This will create environmental consistency and prevent the wood from significantly expanding or shrinking after its arrival.
- Time Period:
For wood to acclimatise correctly it needs to reach a state where it matches the living conditions of the site. You can measure this by comparing the relative humidity of the surroundings with the flooring. This can easily be monitored by using a moisture meter.
Once an equilibrium moisture content is achieved, there shouldn’t be any dramatic changes to the flooring. As wood is a natural product some seasonal changes will still occur and occasionally cause small gaps which will reduce over time.
That’s why we recommend our customers store their wood in the surroundings it will be fitted in for between 48 and 72 hours before installing.
- Storage: Once your wooden flooring has been delivered, it is important to take an initial measure of the moisture content.
For successful acclimatisation we recommend that flooring is laid flat and stacked in random locations round the room. Leave the flooring in the packaging but cut the seal to allow the air in.
This allows air to reach the planks and means the wood will adapt more effectively to the atmosphere and you can tell when the wood has stabilised through the moisture content readings.
These are my golden rules, but it is important to point out that timings for acclimatisation does vary according to the type of wood used and its origin.