Laminate flooring is a great (and cheaper) alternative to traditional hardwood floors. People using laminate often prefers to go the DIY route rather than pay a professional installer. However, one common mistake most DIYers make is installing the laminate floors without acclimatizing the laminate planks first.

What is acclimatization? 

open boxes for flooring planks acclimation

But hardwood floors are expensive, costing around $6 to $14 per square foot The acclimation process or acclimatizing flooring is the process of conditioning a laminate to adjust to the new environmental conditions of the room where it will be installed in.

Why do you need to acclimate laminate flooring?

You must acclimate laminate flooring to avoid warping and/or gaps. The laminate’s fiberboard that makes up the core of the laminate is porous and pliable. This means it is relatively flexible to the conditions surrounding it such as extreme humidity and moisture levels. The laminate will expand and contract depending on the humidity levels in the room. When your laminate floor is installed, it will absorb moisture from the air and that moisture then condenses on the surface of the flooring.

High-temperature levels cause the laminate to expand while low-temperature levels cause it to contract or shrinks. This is the reason why installers leave an expansion gap.

How long does it take to acclimate laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring takes 48 to 72 hours to acclimate however, most manufacturers have their own acclimatization guidelines. Acclimatizing laminate flooring gives it enough time to fully adjust to the final temperature and humidity of the room. 

It is not advisable to shorten the acclimation period since it is difficult to know the conditions of the laminate before and during transport. Also, not waiting for it to fully acclimate may have hard-to-fix consequences, often one may need to replace large swaths of flooring space. 

How to acclimate laminate flooring?

First, the laminate should be uncrated and laid on a flat surface to allow for easy acclimatization. The floor should be set up in the room and acclimatized for at least 24 to 48 hours before installation.

The amount of time it takes for your laminate floor to acclimate will vary depending on several factors. These include the size of the room, the type of laminate, and where it’s being installed (indoors or outdoors) among other factors.

If you choose to install your laminate flooring over existing flooring such as tile, you will want to remove the tile so it does not get damaged by the laminate. 

A common mistake made is when laminate flooring is installed over plywood. Plywood does not acclimatize well and will warp over time. It is best to remove the plywood before installing the laminate to ensure that it doesn’t warp.  

You must wait 90 days for the concrete subfloor and let the concrete cure before acclimating laminate flooring on top of the concrete. You will need to wait 6 months for the surface to cure for a concrete patio before installing your laminate flooring. If you have a concrete patio, you will need to use a moisture meter to give the laminate floor enough time to acclimate.

Should laminate be acclimated in hot and humid weather?

Yes, it must. Acclimatizing laminate flooring that is installed in areas with high humid and hot temperatures is a must. The laminate will expand in hot and humid weather conditions. Make sure to securely install the laminate flooring since a high temperature and humidity may cause the planks to move.

How to store laminate flooring during the acclimatization period?

Before starting the acclimatization period, assess the room’s condition first. Make sure the room has stable humidity and temperature. Check if there are windows that allow outside air or heat of the sun inside. If you plan to install the laminate flooring in a room with unstable humidity and temperature, then we do not recommend laminate flooring as a suitable option.

Here are common manufacturer recommendations when preparing the room:

  • The room should have a stable temperature of 64 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (or 17 and 30 degrees Celcius).
  • The floor in the room should not be less than 59 degrees Fahrenheit (or 15 degrees Celcius).
  • The room should have a humidity level between 25% and 70%. Use a hygrometer to get these measurements.
  • Paintworks on walls or ceilings should be cured for at least 72 hours before acclimatizing the laminate.
  • Do not stack packages or boxes along exterior walls because this may cause changes in temperature.

After preparing the room, and you have confirmed the stability of the room’s temperature and humidity levels, you can start to acclimate the laminate flooring. 

Final thoughts

Laminate is a great choice for people looking to install a wood floor without having to spend as much. However, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s acclimatization guidelines before installing the laminate. Even though laminate is a cheaper option, you need to make sure to avoid warping or gaps.

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