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Acclimatization of Hardwood Flooring
Drying Hardwood Inhouse Is like Drying Laundry in the Middle of the Floor

Acclimatization of hardwood flooring is the effort of bringing the moisture content of your wood flooring to equalibrium with the installation environment. First one might ask why would you care?

Well hardwood reacts much like a sponge by absorbing and giving off moisture in response to the local environment. Like the sponge it expands and contracts in size to reflect gained or lost moisture. But with a sponge we don't care what size it is as long as it performs. With flooring it is a totally different story.

So if you haven't already read the why's and why nots, you may want to take a moment and review this article: why and when should you acclimatize a wood floor?

Here I promised further discussion on if you absolutely must acclimatize a wood floor, how would you actually go about doing it. First let me suggest what you can't do.. or more correctly what won't be effective.

Many hardwood flooring stores will suggest that you can just stack up all your boxes of hardwood flooring in the middle of the room, let them sit there for anywhere between two and 14 days and insist that this will have "acclimatized" your hardwood floor perfectly.

Let me suggest this. If I took my wet laundry and dumped it in a pile in the middle of my kitchen floor and came back in one week, would it be "dry"? Most might suggest that the clothing on the top of the pile would be dry and the clothes on the inside of the pile might be moldy.. doesn't bring a pretty picture to mind :)

The point is, air can NOT circulate through the middle of a pile of flooring when it is stacked in boxes, and boxes stacked on top of each other, particularly because each piece of wood has been sealed on the top face. How do you think that you can achieve any moisture equalization when the air in the home can't even make contact with the unfinished face of the flooring to start with??

If you agree with my logic, then the obvious solution is to spread out all your flooring across the room and allow air flow to access the underside or unfinished side of the hardwood. Flooring that is prefinished does not easily absorb any moisture through the "finished" face.. or at least you and I hope not or we'd never consider it as an appropriate flooring product in the first place.

The amount of time it requires to stay in that position is a function of the original moisture content of the hardwood flooring and the moisture content that you are trying to achieve. For example if the hardwood flooring is at 45% and the room is at 30% it will take much longer than in a situation where the home environment is at 40% .. The only true way to know when your wood is cooked is to have access to a Wood Moisture Meter.

So why don't I really believe this is do-able?

  1. Who wants to spread out all the flooring across their room for 2 weeks?
  2. Wood has a nasty habit of warping and twisting if it is sitting with no weight on in, in an enviroment with a different moisture content then the wood itself, so you may change the moisture of the hardwood flooring planks to match the home, but you might also end up with a lot of twisted boards and increase the challenge of successful installation.

    Typically in a dry kiln the wood is strapped or weighted down during the drying process to prevent this twist.

  3. warping and twisting is even worse of a problem when you are trying to tamper with the moisture content of a piece of wood that is finished on only one side (like the typical hardwood flooring plank). Think of cedar siding.
  4. AND lastly this create a huge mess when you finally decide it is time to install your flooring. Somehow all this has to be moved asside so that your can get your nailer or stapler into place and install the flooring.



Further Information:
Hardwood Flooring Installation
Hardwood Flooring


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