Avoid a Flooring Nightmare: How to Acclimate Hardwood Flooring

You’re excited.

The hardwood flooring you’ve been waiting for anxiously has finally arrived!

You can’t wait to begin your weekend warrior project installing those fresh hardwoods throughout your home.

Imagining the satisfaction you know you’ll feel from completing the task yourself—and saving money—is almost intoxicating!

But before you get started, there’s something you’ve got to do.Acclimation

This step is paramount to providing your floors with the proper foundation and ensuring all the cash you spent on them won’t go to waste.

Skipping this step can cause major damage to those hardwoods you hold so dear.

Before you lay down your precious hardwood floors, get them acclimated!  

Give your woods a chance to get used to their new environment. For proper acclimation to occur, the temperature and humidity of the hardwoods must match the temperature and humidity of the room they’re in. If not, a lot can go wrong. The boards can shrink or expand way too much, buckle, cup, or develop deep structural damage. Not cool.

There are two ways to acclimate your hardwoods:

  1. You can keep them inside of the boxes they come in, or
  2. You can take them out of the boxes they come in.

Keep Hardwoods Inside of the Boxes

If you choose to keep the woods in their boxes, make sure you keep the ends of the boxes opened and lay the boxes flat across the floor throughout the room. If you do not have enough space to lay the boxes out flat, you can stack them on top of one another.

If you must stack the boxes, try to stagger them to allow as much air to circulate as possible.

Take Hardwoods Out of the Boxes

If you have the room, you can take the individual boards out of their boxes and lay them on the floor in the pattern you want them to be installed.


How do you know which method to use? It depends on the instructions that come with your particular grade and species of wood and the room you have available. Check the instructions that come with your order.

In general, here are a few guidelines.

How to Acclimate Hardwood Flooring: Inside the Boxes

  1. Make sure the room or level where the flooring will be laid is an enclosed space.
  2. Between 5 and 10 days ahead of time, check to see if the temperature and humidity of the space is at normal living conditions. In other words, let the heat or air run as it would normally for at least 5 days. Between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit is a good range when it comes to the temperature. The humidity level should be around the yearly average for the area.
  3. If the temperature and humidity of the room is off, use a heating and/or air conditioning system to balance it out. Don’t bring the hardwoods into the space until the heating or air has been running for at least 5 days, and wait 7-10 days before actually installing them.
  4. Open the boxes and lay them flat in the room where they’ll be installed. If, because of space, you do stack the boxes, try to stagger them to expose as much of the boxes to the open air as possible.



How to Acclimate Hardwood Flooring: Outside the Boxes

Follow steps 1-3 above, but instead of laying the opened boxes flat across the floor, take the hardwoods out of their boxes and lay them out as you’re going to install them. Lay them out and piece them together like you would a puzzle. Doing so will help you see where the transition lines will go and make the nailing-down process go by much quicker.

Taking the hardwoods out of the boxes is the best way to acclimate them. Air can hit the boards on every side.

It’s important to acclimate your hardwoods before installing them. Doing so can be the difference between an installation done well and an installation gone bad.


Looking to install hardwood flooring in your home or other property?

Order your hardwoods today!