Climate Control and Moisture

Wood is extremely sensitive to climate and moisture, and should always be stored so that conditions between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 30 to 50 percent relative humidity can be maintained – in other words, normal living conditions in most homes. Extreme temperature and moisture levels can destroy your flooring before it’s even installed, so climate control during storage, transportation, and installation is vitally important.

Macon Hardwood takes precautions to ensure our product is always stored and transported at the optimal temperature and moisture level.

Here are tips to ensure you do the same after receiving your flooring so it’s still in pristine condition when the customer steps onto their new hardwood floor.

Remember that hardwood loses moisture and shrinks in dry climates, and expands in humid climates. Ensure that you allow your hardwood to acclimatize to the moisture content and temperature of its new home before installing it. This process takes at least two weeks, sometimes longer, so do not rush into installing a wood floor. The last thing you want is to install a new hardwood floor and have the wood shrink or expand after installation.

Remember that the acclimation process is more a matter of waiting to achieve results, rather than waiting until a certain number of days or weeks has passed. Factor the species of wood, the room temperature, relative humidity, and moisture content of both the flooring and the environment.

Two tools to help measure this process are a wood moisture meter, which can check the water content of the wood, and a hygrometer, to check the relative humidity of the environment in which it will be installed. You should allow hardwood to acclimate in an environment with the same living conditions as its final destination.

Wood flooring is a hygroscopic material subject that expands or contracts with the amount of moisture, temperature, and humidity within the surrounding environment. Wood flooring simply needs to reach moisture content level in equilibrium with the surrounding environment (EMC) where it will be installed. The process of reaching this equilibrium is defined as acclimation.

According to the National Wood Flooring Association, the process of acclimation is as follows:

Follow manufacturers’ guidelines at all times.

  1. Acclimation can be facilitated by breaking the floor units into small lots and/or opening the packaging. A common practice is to cross‐stack the materials with spacers (¾” to 1” sticks) between each layer of flooring to allow air circulation on all sides of all boards.
  2. Most recommendations state that the materials need to acclimate from a minimum of 3 days up to no given maximum. While it takes time to acclimate a product, the most important aspect is that the materials reach a moisture content that is in equilibrium with its expected use. Acclimate the materials as long as necessary to accomplish this task, taking the necessary moisture readings to indicate when the materials have reached the proper moisture content and when no further changes occur.

Finally, if the installation site is in a location with very wet winters or very dry summers, for example, you may consider completing the installation during the fall or spring; aim for a time when the humidity is not too high or too low.The most important thing you can do to prepare hardwood for installation is to acclimate it properly to the normal living conditions of its new home. Even in very wet or dry climates, proper acclimation is the key to successful hardwood flooring installation.