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The importance of acclimatising wood flooring

acclimatising wood in winter

The importance of acclimatising wood in Winter

Now that Winter is approaching, we need to pay close attention to the preparation to install wood flooring. Failing to understand the importance of acclimatising wood in winter, especially can lead to various problems down the road. To ensure a successful and long-lasting installation, it’s essential that rooms to be fitted are warm, dry, and all wet trades are finished before starting the installation process.

Why Acclimatise Wood Flooring?

Wood is a natural, hygroscopic material that expands and contracts in response to changes in temperature and humidity. In winter, when indoor heating systems are running, the air tends to be drier. This can cause wood to lose moisture and shrink. If not properly acclimatised, the flooring can contract after installation, leading to gaps, cracks, and an overall uneven appearance.

Room Temperature Matters

One of the key factors to consider when acclimatizing wood flooring is the room’s temperature. Wood flooring should be installed in rooms where the temperature is consistent and within the recommended range, typically around 15-21°C. If a room is too cold it is likely that the wood will expand and that if the environment is too dry that the wood will shrink.

Dry Environments Are Essential

In addition to temperature, moisture levels in the room are equally important. In winter, indoor humidity tends to be lower due to heating systems and the cold air outside. It’s crucial to ensure that the environment is not overly dry or damp when acclimatizing wood flooring. Relative humidity should be between 40% – 60% to provide the ideal environment for wood flooring

Finish Wet Trades First

Wet trades, such as painting, plastering, or any work that introduces moisture into the environment, should be completed before wood flooring installation. Moisture from these processes can be absorbed by the wood, causing it to swell and potentially become damaged during the acclimatisation process. Ensure that all wet trades are finished and the environment has had ample time to dry before starting the installation.

Preventing Floor Failure

The consequences of not properly acclimatising wood flooring during the colder months can be costly and frustrating. Gaps, cracks, and uneven surfaces can lead to an unattractive and even unsafe flooring. To prevent floor failure, follow these key steps:

  1. Plan ahead:  guidelines vary between manufacturers but in general, most engineered wood floors require 48 hours of acclimatisation.  Flooring should be left in its packaging.  Remember that this must be in the home, NOT in a shed, outhouse or garage!  
  2. Maintain proper room temperature: Ensure the installation room is at the right temperature range for wood flooring.
  3. Control humidity: Use humidifiers or other moisture control methods to maintain an ideal humidity level.  It is worth having a small temperature and humidity monitor in your home.
  4. Finish wet trades: Complete all moisture-producing activities before acclimatisation begins.

Taking these precautions will not only result in a beautiful and durable wood floor but also save you time and money in the long run. Properly acclimatised wood flooring will provide years of warmth and beauty in your space, even during the coldest months of the year.

In conclusion, acclimatising wood flooring in colder months is not just a recommendation; it’s a necessity for a successful installation. Ensuring that the room is warm, dry, and free from wet trades will prevent floor failure and guarantee that your wood flooring remains stunning and functional for years to come.

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