What You Need to Know About Moisture Testing and Acclimating Hardwood Floors

A variety of hardwood floors.

Here at ReallyCheapFloors.com, we are often asked about acclimating hardwood floors. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, “acclimating” refers to the process of bringing your new floorboards into your home and letting them sit in the house for a while before installing them. When you receive a box of wood flooring, the manufacturer’s instructions often mention acclimating.

While acclimating is sometimes a necessary step prior to installing wood floors, it only needs to be done under certain conditions. To help set the record straight, we have put together the following video and article:

Moisture: Hardwood’s Greatest Enemy

The purpose of acclimating is to ensure that the moisture content of your new floorboards adjusts to the conditions in the space where they will be installed. Moisture, of course, can cause hardwood to expand, which is disastrous for floors. In some situations, allowing the boards to sit in the home for 7 – 10 days with the ends of the box open can solve any potential moisture problems that may arise.

However, acclimating hardwood floors is not always the right thing to do. For instance, if you acclimate boards in a room that is too wet, such as a basement or a crawl space, the moisture level in your flooring is just going to rise. To reiterate: acclimating floors in a room with a high moisture content will only make things worse.

How to Test for MoistureA man using a moisture meter on a stack of wood.

Before you acclimate or install your new flooring, you should first perform a moisture test. The best way to check the moisture level of your subfloor and floorboards is to buy, rent, or borrow a moisture meter. Our preferred model of moisture meter is the Wagner MMC220, which is a handheld device that can measure moisture in all species of wood.

First, use the Wagner meter to test the moisture level of your subfloor. If the meter indicates that your subfloor is over 12 percent moisture, the room is too wet to install your flooring. A rating of around 7 to 9 percent moisture is ideal.

Next, you should determine the moisture content of your flooring. Hardwood floors are typically milled at about 6 – 7 percent moisture, and they can get up to 10 percent without significantly changing form. You will want to make sure that the moisture level of your flooring is within 2 – 4 percent of the moisture level of your subfloor.

If your flooring and your subfloor are within 2 – 4 percent of each other and the subfloor is under 12 percent moisture, there is no need to acclimate. As long as you have met the above conditions and the temperature in the room is above 50 °F and below 90 °F, you can start installing your floorboards. If your flooring and your subfloor are out of the 2 – 4 percent range and the subfloor is under 12 percent moisture, you should acclimate the boards in the room for 7- 10 days.

Engineered hardwood floor boards.Purchasing Hardwood Floors

If you have any additional questions about acclimating hardwood floors or need help deciding which type of flooring you should choose for your home, don’t hesitate to contact ReallyCheapFloors.com! Our team is always happy to give advice and answer any queries you may have. We have a huge selection of overstock, seconds, and discontinued floors at competitive prices. Browse our collection of hardwood floors today!