If you're thinking of installing genuine wood flooring, you're probably going to be told the wood needs to be acclimatised, but you might not know exactly what that means. It's a vital step towards ensuring the long-term health of your flooring, so read on to find out everything you need to know.
What Is Acclimatisation?
Wood is a natural product that can take in and lose moisture from the surrounding air. It has its own internal moisture level, and it will either swell or contract when moisture levels in the surrounding air are different in order to create a healthy balance.
The acclimatisation process simply gets your new wood floorboards used to the average moisture levels in your home before it is laid down to minimise movement once it has been fixed to the subfloor.
Why Is Acclimatisation Important?
If you're thinking that the acclimatisation process is something you can skip, reasoning that timber surely can't change too much, you're wrong. Changes in moisture levels between timber and the environment aren't a problem when that timber is still part of a living tree, but the swelling and contraction involved can be a real issue when timber floorboards have been laid down.
This generally leads to one of two problems:
Gaps: If you fail to acclimatise your floor, you might start to see noticeable gaps appearing between your floorboards. This occurs when wood contracts after installation. Gaps can ruin the appearance of your floor and make it much harder to clean.
Cupping: As bad as gaps can be, cupping is a worse outcome. Floorboards are more susceptible to moisture on the side that's facing up; when the wood expands more on that side, you'll be left with an uneven surface. This usually means having to prise up the floorboards and start again.
How Do You Acclimatise Wood Flooring?
You'll generally have to speak to your supplier about how long you'll need to leave your floorboards in their boxes before having the floor fitted – the answer will depend on a few factors, including the species of wood you choose. Follow their recommendations to avoid problems.
One thing you should make sure of is that the acclimatisation process happens during average conditions. Moisture levels will change a little in your home, so it's best to ensure you keep things about average – don't let things get too hot or too cold. If you're having new floors fitted as part of a larger renovation, acclimatisation should wait until after everything else is done.
For more information, contact your local timber floor installation service today.