Acclimating: Why It’s Essential to Wait 48 Hours

KronotexAcclimatingIllustrationA word of caution: Never install your new laminate floor as soon as the cartons arrive at your home. Any new laminate floor, like American Concepts, needs to sit in your house for at least 48 hours in the room it will be installed in order to acclimate or to become accustomed to a new climate or conditions.

For example, if you live in the desert Southwest, where it’s very dry, and decided to take a vacation exploring the rain forest in Brazil, where’s it’s intensely humid, it might take you a few days to get used to – or get acclimated to – your new environment.

Your new laminate flooring is no different. Its home environment — where it was made — is likely to be quite different from where it will be installed — your home — in terms of humidity levels and temperature. And there’s also extremes the flooring is exposed to during shipping and storage in a store or warehouse.

Therefore, laminate flooring needs a little time to get acclimated.

Why does laminate flooring need to be acclimated?

All laminate flooring has a fiberboard core. In the case of Kronotex USA and its American Concepts line, it’s a high-density fiberboard (HDF) core.

All wood, including HDF, is porous on a microscopic level, even though it may look quite solid. These tiny openings allow air inside the core, carrying with it whatever humidity there may be. The more humid the air, the more likelihood that planks will swell; the less humid the air, the more likelihood the planks will shrink. While this swelling or shrinking may be very slight, it could be just enough to cause otherwise snug locking systems to buckle or gap across the floor.

Acclimating allows the planks to become unified in the temperature and humidity that is identical to the conditions found in the room in which they will be installed. Once acclimated, the planks will be uniformly conditioned and the locking system will not be compromised. So you can see why acclimation is so important. In fact, skipping the proper acclimation process will void your Kronotex USA or American Concepts warranty.

Prepare yourself, as well as your floor

We realize that installing a floor is at once exciting and inconvenient. Either you can’t wait to see the finished floor, or more realistically, you have a full to-do list to accomplish in a specified amount of time. For that reason, we encourage you pick up or schedule delivery of the cartons a week in advance of the day you set aside for installation. It may be inconvenient to have a room cleared for a week to make room for acclimating cartons of planks properly, but that beautiful floor you can’t wait to see will be well worth the wait; a buckling or gap-ridden floor will not.

And we also know that you’ll find a surprising amount of discussion and differing opinions about the amount of time to allow for acclimation. Remember, because acclimation is sensitive to geography and highly individualized indoor-temperature conditions. Chances are slim that whoever you choose to listen to is using the exact same product in the exact same conditions as you. And because manufacturing methods and components vary by company, we urge you to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and resist any urge to cut corners based on a friend – or stranger’s — advice.

How do you acclimate laminate flooring?

Place the cartons in the middle of the floor, laying each box flat, side-by-side, in the room in which you intend to install them. Keep them away from the exterior walls. Allow them to sit a full 48 hours before installation. (Note: Do not remove the shrink wrap and open the boxes. Leave them closed.) That will give your Kronotex USA laminate flooring planks time to become acclimated to their new home.

What conditions are critical to correctly acclimate your laminate flooring?

Often, a new laminate floor is part of a room makeover or addition where new paint and new heating is a factor. The most critical condition is that the indoor environment be stable and constant; acclimating and installing your laminate floor is pointless in an open environment (i.e., with open windows or exposed, framed-in walls). What is required are the constant living conditions in terms of temperature and humidity before beginning the acclimation and installation process.

While Kronotex USA laminate flooring — including its new American Concepts line — is engineered to provide long-term performance even in somewhat challenging installations, please note the following acclimation specifications:

  • The temperature should be between 64 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The temperature of the floor should be no less than 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The humidity level in the space should be between 25 and 70%. To determine the relative humidity in your room, you’ll need a hygrometer. (Look for a desktop or tabletop hygrometer. They’re usually combined with a thermometer, too.)
  • Installing on a slab? Concrete should be cured for at least 60 days and to a vapor-flow rate of 3 lbs. per 24 hours per 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Newly painted walls and woodwork should be cured for three days.
  • If your floor has radiant heat built-in, it should be turned on at 80 degrees for three days prior to installation. Note that for Kronotex USA, the radiant heat must be hydro-driven and commercially available.

Remember, if you’re installing laminate flooring other than Kronotex USA, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions on acclimating their product.

Our final advice about acclimating laminate flooring

Please, don’t skip this important first installation step to a beautiful laminate floor. Plan ahead so you can easily allow enough time to let your floor get used to its new environment and give you back a beautiful performance for many years to come.