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Laminate flooring has gotten more and more popular over the years for many reasons. The affordable price, good durability and ease of installation make it a top choice in many homes.
One common question that people have regarding laminate is if it needs to be acclimated? In this article we provide the answer to that question, as well as every other question regarding laminate flooring acclimation.
Does laminate flooring need to acclimate?
Yes, laminate flooring needs to acclimate. The reason for this is that laminate is made with materials that change depending on the climate. Sudden changes in climate and humidity can cause laminate to expand and buckle.
All brands of laminate flooring use a fiberboard core. This means that even though it may look solid, laminate is porous at the microscopic level. These small pores allow air to get into the core, along with the humidity from the environment.
When the air is more humid the planks will swell and expand. When the air is less humid the planks can shrink. Even though this expanding and shrinking is minor, it can be enough to make the laminate buckle or gap when installed.
There is a lot of discussion on various online forums where people share their experiences with laminate flooring acclimation. The problem with this is that it can be very misleading. The chances of you having the exact same brand of flooring in the exact same humidity/temperature are almost zero. Therefore you should take any recommendations with a grain of salt if they didn’t come from the manufacturer.
Can you lay laminate flooring straight away?
No you cannot lay laminate straight away because it can buckle or shrink depending on the humidity change that it is exposed to.
How long does laminate floor need to acclimate?
Generally, laminate flooring needs to acclimate for 48-72 hours. This time will vary depending on the manufacturer though.
What happens if I don’t acclimate laminate flooring?
If you don’t acclimate laminate flooring you run the risk of it buckling or having gaps when installed. The humidity change can cause the wood to expand or shrink if it’s not acclimated properly. This can eventually lead to soft spots that move up and down.
How to stack laminate flooring to acclimate
When stacking laminate flooring to acclimate you first need to clear an area for the planks to sit.
Next you need to unpack the flooring and take off all the plastic wrapping. Proper acclimation requires the flooring to be unpacked as the wrapping can interfere with the process.
Begin stacking the laminate by making sure the base is stable. Stack the planks in the base in the same direction. They should be stacked neatly and have 1-2 inch gaps in between each other.
The rest of the planks should be stacked using a criss-cross style. Alternate the direction of the planks with each layer so that they are balanced and can’t fall over. Make sure to continue leaving a 1-2 inch gap between each plank. This ensures that all planks get adequate airflow.
Once the planks are stacked properly, the waiting can begin.
What conditions are critical to correctly acclimate your laminate flooring?
Because laminate flooring installation is often paired together with other home improvement projects, it’s critical to make sure that the conditions are stable in the room where it’s stacked. Here is a summary of the things that you need to consider:
- The room temperature should be 64-86 degrees F
- The floor temperature should be higher than 59 degrees F
- The level of humidity in the room should be 25-70%. Use a hygrometer to test this level. You can often find hygrometers which have a combined thermometer for convenience.
- If you’re installing on a concrete slab then the concrete needs to have been cured for a minimum of 60 days. Also, the vapor flow rate should be 3lbs/24 hours for every 1000 square feet.
- Any freshly painted walls need to have been cured for at least 3 days.
- If the floor has radiant heat, it needs to be turned on for at least 3 days before installation at 80 degrees F.
Overall, acclimation is a crucial part of laminate flooring installation. If you follow all the steps in this article you can prevent lots of the issues that happen when laminate isn’t acclimated properly, ensuring that your flooring looks great for years to come.
Have any experiences with the laminate flooring acclimation process? Let us know in the comments.