Acclimating Wood Flooring

Monday October 18, 2010
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Freshly cut logs contain between 60% and 70% of bound moisture. For hardwood flooring and other wood applications, this has to be reduced to between 6% and 12%, equivalent to 40–55% relative humidity, which is the level in most homes. This reduction in moisture level is achieved by kiln drying at a controlled rate and under closely monitored conditions. After being kiln dried, the wood’s ability to absorb moisture is limited which reduces its level of expansion or contraction.

But the fact of the matter is that all wood, included wood flooring, is still able to absorb or release moisture within the boundaries of the surrounding environment. This is equally true for solid or engineered hardwood. This is the reason for acclimating hardwood flooring before installation. Without acclimating the flooring to its new and eventual permanent environment, it is susceptible to absorb or release moisture. This results in expansion and contraction which can distort your wood floors. This is often referred to buckling or cupping. If the flooring is installed without acclimating in an atmosphere where the moisture level is less than 6%, for example, it will in course of time release moisture and contract. There is every possibility of gaps appearing between boards after some time. The converse is also possible where non–acclimated flooring absorbs moisture resulting in buckling. Flooring damage is largely because of moisture gain or loss. It is always recommend to let wood flooring acclimate.

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