Most of us are aware and accept that a natural product like oak flooring requires a period of acclimatisation to allow it to ‘do its moving’ before installation rather than afterwards, but many of us seem to struggle in accepting that changes to the surrounding conditions after installation will also result in dimensional changes, which can affect the performance of the finished floor.
The following information is provided as advice and guidelines regarding the best practice methods for acclimatising oak flooring in normal conditions. For situations where Under Floor Heating is present, please refer to the information on our Fitting Guidelines page.
By far the most common reasons for problems after installation are poor subfloor preparation, insufficient or incorrect acclimatisation, or changes in room conditions that surround the finished floor. Our challenge as a supplier is that when problems do occur on site, the owner/fitter is usually far too keen to blame the product, when in actual fact very rarely is it anything to do with the product.
The reason for failure is usually down to us humans, and can be one or all of the following;
- The installer for not providing sufficient information to the floor owner about how best to look after the floor after installation
- The floor owner for not bothering to look after the floor, despite being advised to do so by the installer or/and the supplier
- The supplier for not providing sufficient information to either or both persons mentioned above
You can probably tell from the information within this website, we take great pride in providing as much information as we possibly can throughout the research and buying process our customers go through. We are not here to simply sell something to you… we want the product you buy to be what you want and need, and to perform in the manner in which you expect it to. BUT… we also expect our customers to take notice of our advice and our guidelines, so that things don’t start to go wrong.
In this modern day of rush, rush, rush and everyone wanting everything yesterday, too often are the very important elements of successful wood floor installation overlooked or the efforts towards them reduced, thus resulting in challenges and costs afterwards that could have easily been avoided if a little more time and effort had been taken prior to installation.
All hardwood floors, solid or engineered, are a product of nature and therefore it must be expected that they will vary in shade, colour, and grain pattern from piece to piece and that they will sometimes vary from samples previously viewed. Surely, the main reasons for anyone buying oak flooring is that no two pieces are the same and that it is ultimately… a natural product with unique features? Natural hardwood will also experience colour change and some dimensional movement over time as it matures, and when it’s exposed to varying conditions of light, heat, moisture and humidity. The only way to avoid such dimensional movement is to keep the surrounding conditions consistent throughout the different seasons of the year with humidifier units or similar equipment.
The flooring should be kept dry during transportation and offload, and then stored within the room it is to be fitted when delivered. The room should be completely dried out before the flooring is introduced into it, to the level as close to as possible to that which will be consistent when the room is occupied and lived in.
The packs can be opened and it is important that they are stacked with bearers or sticks in a way that allows the air within the room to circulate around them for at least 10 days. There is no need to remove all the flooring from the cartons.
Avoid stacking the packs near to heat sources like radiators or large windows because this can create a false environment.
Any areas of excess moisture must first be fully dried before the flooring arrives. If there is a consistent area of moisture that’s not drying out, the source of this problem must be found and solved. If not, it will continue to cause problems after the floor is installed.
Most people will tell you that to prepare your flooring for fitting will take 7 days or some may say 14 days to ‘play safe’, but the fact is that there is no set period for acclimatisation.
Every site situation is different, which means that every acclimatisation period can be different too. This is why we recommend to always use a moisture meter to confirm that the conditions are suited to and acceptable for the installation of a natural wood floor.
The whole reason for acclimatisation is to allow the flooring to reach equilibrium with its surrounding conditions before being fitted, so in other words, you want the flooring to do its moving before installation and not afterwards!
The room should be completely dried out before the flooring is introduced into it, to the level that will be consistent when the room is occupied and lived in. Then the moisture level of the room should be checked and monitored (take a reading regularly and when it is consistent for 3 days, the room has reached its constant).
Then the flooring should be introduced and stacked as the storage paragraph above. Temperature within the room should be between 15-25 degrees and the Relative Humidity needs to be between 35-60%.Moisture check the flooring now with a suitable moisture meter and monitor the reading. Even if the reading is the same as the room, acclimatisation is still advised before installation. (OakFloorsOnline advise a minimum of 7 days acclimatisation period, even if both readings are the same). Leave the flooring stacked within the room for at least 5 days (this depends on site conditions) and then check the moisture level with a moisture meter.
Continue to check and monitor the moisture level until the reading is constant for 3 days and matches the moisture reading of the room. Then installation can begin. Relative Humidity during acclimatisation and installation should be maintained between 35-60%, and then maintained thereafter for optimum performance and to avoid dimensional movement and potential floor failure of any kind.
As emphasised within the first paragraph of this page, when an expensive Oak Floor is being installed, you should want to install it once only without risking further costs and disruption through attempting to rush or ‘speed up’ the project. It’s not worth trying to ‘cut any corners’ (please excuse the pun) because this is certainly false economy and in the vast majority of situations, will end up costing you more time and money in the long run.
For acclimatisation and installation above Under Floor Heating, please refer to our Fitting Guidelines.