Does Laminate Flooring Need to Acclimate
Not every laminate flooring manufacturer recognizes the need to "acclimatize". However, it is an important step toward successfully installing your new laminate floor. During the installation process, laminate flooring will need to adjust to a new location, which can take up to three days. As the laminate acclimates to the humidity and temperature in the room, the fiberboard core becomes accustomed to the environment. Ignoring acclimation can lead to the floor bending, warping, or twisting after installation.
It is surprising how easy it is to acclimate laminate flooring to its new setting, so even untrained DIYers can manage it with some instruction. Although it’s simple, we always suggest you take the best services and advice to avoid any mishap. Read along to know why.
What Is Acclimation?
While installing new flooring, you should consider some specific factors to optimize durability. One of them is acclimation, an important step which shouldn’t be ignored.
Once the flooring is installed, it will need to be adjusted according to the humidity and temperature of the surrounding environment; this is what we call acclimation. There is a risk of warping, cracking, and buckling on various floors if the recommended acclimatization time is not followed.
Does Laminate Flooring Need to Acclimate Before Installation?
Laminate floors are robust, require little maintenance, and are easier to install than hardwood floors. However, it doesn't mean you can order them from a local flooring store and have them installed right away. A few steps are to be taken as soon as your purchase is completed to ensure successful installation.
Why Does Laminate Flooring Need to Acclimate?
Some flooring companies claim laminate floors don't require acclimation at all. According to them, it makes no difference since laminate isn't made of wood.
Although laminate flooring isn't entirely made of actual wood, its core comprises fiberboard or compressed wood fibers. This core material is breathable and somewhat flexible, like all other wood products. Due to its flexibility and breathability, laminate flooring tends to be affected by humidity or other environmental conditions. So, yes, laminate flooring needs to adjust to local humidity and moisture level before installation.
The fiberboard core expands when it is hot and shrinks when it is cold or dry. It will swell in high humidity conditions and contract in lower humidity conditions.
Laminate flooring is usually created in one environment, stored in another, and then set up in a third environment with a different combination of humidity and extreme temperature.
The temperature fluctuations hinder the installation of laminate flooring. Remember that laminate flooring can be installed in practically all settings because it is made to adapt to variations in humidity and temperature. However, despite laminate flooring's high strength, it takes some time for it to acclimate.
How Long Does Laminate Flooring Need to Acclimate?
Before starting the acclimatization process, leave the boxes in the installation area and spread them around. There isn’t any need to open the boxes or remove the materials, but you can if you want. Also, don't stack them along the edges of the room.
To prepare your new flooring for installation, it's important to leave it in the environment where it will be installed for at least 48 hours, and up to 72 hours for acclimation.
6 Easy Steps to Acclimate Laminate Flooring
Following are the six steps that you can follow to acclimate your laminate flooring.
1. Check the Manufacturer's Instructions Guide
Before installation, read the directions provided by the manufacturer, as most people skip this step. Every laminate flooring type has its own acclimatization requirements and guidelines. So, to be on the safe side, read the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Even if your manufacturer does not specify the need for acclimatization, it’s better to err on the side of caution and acclimatize your floor.
2. Check Subfloor Moisture
A prong test is the best way to ensure that the subfloor is not wet. If you're using a concrete moisture meter, do not exceed 3% MC. The subfloor may experience expansion problems if its moisture level exceeds this range. Moreover, laminate can be permanently damaged by excessive dampness.
3. Monitor Room Humidity
Humidity has a significant impact on laminate flooring. It is not recommended to use laminate in places with excessive humidity. A hygrometer can check the humidity level of a room, a gadget you'll find in most large stores. Humidity levels between 35% to 65% are ideal for laminate flooring. Make sure to ask the manufacturer what humidity levels are recommended for optimal results.
4. Maintain Constant Temperature
A temperature difference can also affect laminate flooring. Expansion and contraction caused by frequent temperature changes can lead to cracking, curling, peeling, and other problems. For this reason, laminate should be limited to areas with consistent temperatures. Any place without a climate control system or outdoors is not suitable for using it. A constant temperature between 17-30 °C is usually recommended for laminate flooring. People living in colder climates should put their radiant heating on and set the temperature to 26 °C, 2-3 days before they start the installation process.
5. Store Laminate Flooring Packages Properly
During the acclimation period, laminate needs to be stored right. Keep the laminate packages sealed in the room where you're going to install them. Furthermore, avoid storing laminate flooring upright as they can bow.
6. Recognize Laminate Flooring's Acclimatization Period
It is crucial to know the acclimatization period of your laminate flooring. Follow your manufacturer's recommendations to ensure the best results. Even if your manufactured does not indicate the need to acclimatize the floor, acclimatization can prevent problems later on. Laminate flooring typically takes 48 hours to adapt to a new space. If you're being extra careful, you can wait up to 72 hours.
What Happens If You Don’t Acclimate Your Floor?
Although lamination may proceed smoothly, and the planks may look beautiful once installed, they may develop problems later on if you don't acclimate the floor correctly. This may lead to several problems, such as:
- Peaking- Peaking occurs when the edges of the laminate boards push together and peak through. The plank ends are raised, pushing an elevated area at the end joint. The condition is most visible in areas where the lighting crosses the floor.
- Cupping- The boards look like a minor wave when a laminate floor is cupped. It will be low in the middle and high at the edges. Cupping often happens gradually when there is an issue with high moisture levels in specific flooring pieces. It is frequently caused by improper acclimatization.
- Warping- The buckled laminate planks create a peak. The laminate will lift entirely off the floor if it buckles. The high moisture levels result in buckling. Most moisture content develops below the laminate, e.g. in a concrete slab with high moisture content or during flooding. The presence of high, unmanaged relative humidity can also lead to buckling.
- Gaps- Not giving the planks enough time to acclimate to your home environment is usually the reason for floor gaps. You'll need to bring in the boards and let them sit undisturbed in your household if you want to stay away from gaping and creaking.
Should laminate flooring be unwrapped while it acclimates?
In most cases, laminate flooring comes shrink-wrapped. Generally, manufacturers recommend leaving laminate boards in the shrink-wrapped package so the flooring can fully acclimate. But we suggest reading the installation instructions and other guidance included with your flooring if the manufacturer has advised an alternative procedure.
How soon after installation can you walk on a laminate floor?
Before walking on it, you should wait at least 24 hours after most laminate flooring installation. A curing period will ensure that laminate flooring settles into place and won't warp. Some manufacturers indicate that you may walk on the floor immediately after installation. To be on the safe side, read the manufacturer's instructions carefully.
Does laminate flooring change with temperature?
Temperature indeed affects laminate flooring throughout its lifespan. Basically, laminate flooring expands during hot weather and shrinks during cold weather.
How much time does installing laminate flooring require?
Four to five days are needed for installation in an average 10-by-20-foot room, plus an additional day for each room. To avoid issues like board expansion, laminate flooring takes at least two to three days to acclimate to the environment of the surrounding area. Different joint and installation types, along with the level of the installer experience, may affect the time it takes. Check with your flooring dealer to get an estimate of how long it will take depending on your choice of floor.
In short, it is important to let laminate flooring acclimate before installation since even the slightest expansion or contraction may result in poor finishing. People often skip the acclimatization process and learn their lesson the hard way.
Skipping the acclimatization procedure increases the risk of your floor buckling, distorting, shrinking, or splitting. Therefore, always read the company’s installation instructions and guidelines before using a product.
We at Bisbee's Flooring Center make sure that our customers are fully satisfied with our services, which include acclimation, installation, in-home estimates, and design consultations.