What Happens if you Don’t Properly Acclimate a Hardwood Floor?

What happens if you don't acclimate a wood floor?

We talk a lot about how to acclimate hardwood floors for installation. But what happens if you don’t take the time to do so? Here are some things that could happen, causing dreaded callbacks. 

Buckling means that the wood floor has pulled away from the subfloor. This is one of the more extreme examples of moisture issues in a hardwood floor. 

Cupping, which means that the center of the board is lower than the edges.

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Crowning is the opposite issue of cupping, when the center of the board is higher than the edges.

Warping results in planks looking disfigured. This issue is usually caused by standing water or moisture underneath the floor or subfloor.

All of the above are caused by moisture issues, either with wood itself, the subfloor, or both. This is why it’s so important to make sure the floors are properly acclimated before installing them. Let the floors sit in the room where they will be installed. The relative humidity of the room should be within 30-50%, or the percentage that the flooring manufacturer provides in their recommendations. Wood floors usually take 1-2 weeks on average to fully acclimate. Make sure to consistently measure the temperature during that time. Make sure to measure the moisture content of the subfloor as well.

“Solid strip wood flooring (less than 76 mm wide) that has been acclimated properly will not have more than a 4% moisture content difference between the flooring and the subfloor. For wider flooring (more than 76 mm wide) there should never be more than a 2% moisture content difference,” according to Wagner Meters

Here are the measurements you need to take in order to make sure that the floor is acclimating properly:

  • A baseline reading of the wood’s moisture content at the time of delivery (we take care of these readings for you if you purchase our hardwood floors)
  • Perform concrete and/or subfloor moisture testing with a tool like the Wagner Rapid RH L6.
  • Take frequent readings of the wood as it acclimates to the room. 

Making sure HVAC system is functioning correctly before you leave the jobsite to prevent any issues in the future.

One of the wood floor moisture meters we recommend is the Delmhorst J2000, which features built-in wood species correction. 

If any of the above issues occur, you’ll need to identify the source of the standing water and make sure it’s corrected before reinstalling the floor, otherwise the issue will occur again after reinstallation. Call us at (800) 737-1786 or email info [at] cityfloorsupply.com for help with identifying moisture issue on a jobsite.

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