Before you jump into a hardwood flooring project, you will need to acclimate the wood. This process involves syncing the moisture in the flooring to the humidity level of the environment where it is being installed. Acclimation should happen a few days before installation to avoid moisture-related failures, like cupping, crowning, or warping.
But does this apply to just solid hardwood flooring or does it include engineered hardwood too?
It includes both! While a lot of discussion in the industry focuses on the importance of acclimating solid wood flooring, engineered wood floors also need to acclimate. Engineered wood floors are designed to better withstand changes in humidity and temperature than solid wood floors, but it’s still important to make sure that the place you are installing the engineered wood meets the requirements of the products you are using.
Start By Measuring the Moisture Content
First things first: measure the moisture content of the planks you are using. If they were recently shipped, you may not know where they were stored, what temperatures they withstood, etc. Use a moisture meter to get an accurate reading. Get our tips on how to measure the moisture content of hardwood flooring.
The goal is to reach the “equilibrium moisture content” (EMC), as defined by the manufacturer’s requirements. If the moisture content matches the EMC on the packaging, then you are good to move forward. However, if the readings you are getting are many percentage points away from the EMC you may want to consider returning the shipment. It could take months for the planks to meet the EMC, and it can also be hard to continue to store the wood and maintain the proper environment once the wood is already moist.
You will also need to check the moisture level of the subfloor. If your subfloor is wet then you are going to have a problem with the installation, regardless of whether it is wood or concrete. Get our tips for preventing subfloor moisture problems.
Tips for Preparing Your Space for Engineered Wood
If you know you are going to be installing flooring, there are some things you can do to make the acclimation process easier and more successful.
- Use Your Moisture Meter: We’ve already mentioned it a few times, so it must be important! If you neglect to check the moisture regularly, you are going to end up with a bad result (and potentially an unhappy customer).
- Check Your Drainage: If you have a moisture problem in the space you are working on, it’s probably because of poor drainage. You should confirm the grading is complete and the drainage is running away from the space before jumping into the project. If water is pooling nearby, you will have installation issues, so it’s best to resolve this first.
- Run the AC or Heating: Be sure to run the AC and heating system in the days leading to the wood’s arrival. This will help maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels. Whether you are using a permanent HVAC system or AC and heating rentals, you’ll want to keep these levels consistent prior, during and after installation.
- Complete Other Construction Projects: If you are working with wet construction elements, like paint, in the same place you will be installing the wood, you will want to complete that first. Keep in mind that this will impact your timeline because you’ll need to wait until the moisture levels lower.
- Keep Wood Protected: When you have the wood delivered, be sure to keep it enclosed. It’s even better if you can move it right into your space without having to brave any outdoor elements.
Ready for Your Next Engineered Hardwood Flooring Project?
Despite engineered hardwood flooring having some more flexibility than solid hardwood, you’ll still need to take proper steps to ensure it looks and functions great for years to come. It starts with having the right equipment and understanding how to use it. Shop our selection of wood floor moisture meters.