How to Acclimate Laminate Flooring: The Ultimate Guide

You’ve just bought laminate flooring, and you’re excited to get started on your renovation projects. But are not sure how you need to acclimate your laminate flooring or how long it needs before installing.

Installing laminate flooring can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re not used to it. Many people are hesitant for fear of making a mistake and ruining the entire project, especially after reading horror stories online where people had to reinstall the whole thing because they hadn’t acclimated it properly.

We’ve put together this guide on how to acclimate laminate flooring and also what would happen if you don’t so that you can confidently do it yourself. Ready to get started?

Do I Really Need to Let Laminate Flooring Acclimate?

Acclimating your laminate flooring before installing is fundamental. This means that you should never install it as soon as the boxes arrive, which unfortunately happens more than you might think. Acclimation is a process that allows the laminate flooring to adjust to the new environment and get used to the new conditions. 

The humidity and temperature of the warehouse or factory where the flooring is kept might be quite different from your home. Therefore, the flooring needs time to adjust to the room’s climate where it will be installed. But what would happen if you installed it anyway? To know this, we need to understand why we need to acclimate in the first place.

Why Acclimate Laminate Flooring?

Acclimating laminate flooring is necessary for several reasons. 

  1. Laminate flooring planks are manufactured in an environment different than the place they’ll be installed. This means they are likely to contract and expand because of the sudden changes in temperature and humidity. This expansion and contraction can damage and weaken the planks, which you would want to avoid at all costs.
  1. The core material used in all laminate flooring is called fiberboard. It looks solid, but there are minute pores, which means liquid and air can pass through it. When humid air passes through these pores, your flooring expands, and the planks will contract when cool or dry air passes through. The flooring will shrink, buckle, or not connect properly, which can lead to unsightly gaps, that might need fillers

No matter how small these expansion and contraction movements may be, the damage they may cause to your laminate flooring planks might cost you, in the long run, a lot of frustration but even more money!

How Do You Acclimate Laminate Flooring?

Your laminate flooring acclimation process starts when you’ve brought the floorings to the installation area. Note that it’s crucial that you need to bring the boxes to the environment where they have to be eventually installed. But before doing so, there are some preparations you need to make first.

Making preparations 

  1. If you live in a cold climate and use a heating system at home, you need to turn it on and set it at a temperature of between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius or 68 – 80  Fahrenheit. However, this rule is only for climates where the normal temperature is constant, even in other seasons. It’s recommended that you turn on the heating system at least two days before you start the acclimation process for your laminate flooring. If your house is colder and stays that way, you can adjust the temperature to your liking. 
  2. You must ensure that the room’s temperature remains stable and constant; this would also mean during the colder seasons. 
  3. The room’s humidity where acclimation is to take place should also be checked and kept constant. It should be between 30% and 70%. Again this is standard. It might be different for you personally. You might live in a very humid area, and that’s fine as long you keep the humidity level more or less the same.
  4. If there is any plastering, painting, or decoration to be done in the room where you want to install your laminate flooring, make sure all of this is complete at least three days before starting the acclimation process. This is because these tasks usually increase the moisture in a room, and you do not want that to happen when your flooring is acclimating. 
  5. If you have to install your laminate flooring on the concrete slab that has been freshly poured, then you need to allow it to cure fully. This process usually takes 60 days, and it’s best not to acclimate during this time.
  6. To keep the environment of the room stable where you will acclimate your laminate flooring, you should keep the doors and windows closed. 
  7. To ensure the room’s humidity is at the right level, you can get a humidity gauge, and a digital thermometer can come in handy for checking the ambient temperature. 

Starting the acclimation process

Once you have completed the preparations, you can start the acclimation process by following the steps below. 

  1. It would be best to place your laminate flooring boxes flat on the floor side by side where you intend to install them. Do not lean them against the wall upright because the planks will warp or bend
  2. At this point, there is no need for you to make your laminate flooring out of its boxes. You can leave them in their original packaging or boxes for now. 
  3. Make sure that the temperature and humidity of the room are stable and the same as they will be once you have installed your laminate flooring. For instance, if you are installing your laminate flooring in the winter and use a heater in the room, you should keep it on while the flooring acclimates. 
  4. There should be sufficient space available for you to keep your laminate flooring, as you want the air to circulate in and around the boxes. Thus, when you are placing the laminate flooring boxes in a room, you should not keep them too close together and too close to any walls. 
  5. The ideal place for you to place your laminate flooring boxes is in the middle of the room. It’s never a good idea to place your laminate flooring near any of the room’s exterior walls. This is because there is greater temperature fluctuation next to these walls, and this will not allow proper acclimation. 
  6. It’s also important to acclimate all your laminate flooring boxes simultaneously. This means that you should order enough boxes to ensure they can acclimate together. The general rule of thumb is to calculate the total floor area and always get 10% more. If all your laminate flooring boxes do not arrive at once, you can store them somewhere else, such as your attic or garage, while the rest arrive. Make sure you store them in a place that has a mild climate. 
  7. After a couple of days, your laminate flooring will be acclimated sufficiently, and you can begin the application process.

You can also check out the video below to get more insight into how to acclimate your laminate flooring properly. 

Can You Stack Laminate Flooring to Acclimate?

Stacking your laminate flooring to acclimate is not recommended but can be done if you want it to. But, if you want to do so, there are rules to follow. 

What to do 

The only way you can stack them during the acclimation process is if the boxes remain flat. Leave your laminate flooring in its original boxes and put them on the floor where it will be installed. You can then stack them by forming a grid when you place the boxes across one another. 

The grid formation supports the laminate flooring boxes and allows the air to circulate freely around them, ensuring that they can acclimate adequately. 

What not to do

Do not stack your laminate flooring boxes standing up or lean them against the wall in an upright position. Do not put the boxes, one on top of the other in the same direction. Doing any of these will cause your laminate flooring boxes to warp, bend, or get damaged. You can check out this article for more information about stacking laminate properly. 

How Long Should You Acclimate Laminate Flooring?

Generally speaking, laminate flooring requires at least two to three days to acclimate. The purpose is to allow the flooring to get used to the temperature and humidity of the room where it has to be installed. It will take a couple of days for that to happen. However, it would help if you made a note of certain things. 

  1. Most manufacturers of laminate flooring will specify the time duration for acclimation. Therefore, you should check and see if any instructions are provided, or always ask before making a purchase in case it’s not mentioned.
    You should adhere to their instructions for acclimation because if you do not do so, it will void the warranty of your flooring and could ruin your flooring as well.
    Manufacturers usually specify the time duration and also the temperature and humidity levels to give you the best results. 
  2. The average time duration recommended for acclimation is 48 hours. Bear in mind that this is applicable once the laminate flooring has arrived at your home and you have followed the steps of the acclimation process. The clock does not start from the time of purchase. In addition, some manufacturers may ask you to acclimate your laminate flooring for 72 hours.
  3. In case the laminate flooring does not come with any installation information, you should let it acclimate for about 72 hours. You can do it for 48 hours too, but extending it to 72 hours or even a couple of hours extra ensures that your floor will be appropriately acclimated and installed perfectly. 

What Happens If I Don’t Acclimate Laminate Flooring?

Even if you install the laminate flooring perfectly but skip the acclimation process, you’ll regret it later. 

The variations in humidity and temperature of the room where it’s installed may cause the planks to expand and contract. Letting your laminate flooring settle after installation is equally important. In both cases, your lamiante floor may go through repeated expansion and contraction inflicting a lot of damage on the planks. 

This may lead to many kinds of damage, such as: 

  1. Gaps 

If the laminate flooring planks contract too much, they’ll eventually shrink, and this will cause them to separate at the seams. And gaps in your laminate flooring are the last thing you’d want to see. Moreover, it can also leave the planks vulnerable to peeling and chipping because moisture will be able to get underneath, as will all kinds of debris and dirt.

  1. Peak

If the laminate flooring planks expand excessively, they tend to push together at the seams. This means that the plank will not fit on the floor properly and will be lifted up. You will be able to see and feel the peak, which can ruin the aesthetic of your laminate flooring.

  1. Creak

When laminate flooring planks frequently expand and contract, there is a possibility that they may not be able to fit together properly. The planks could also push against one another, which means the floor will become uneven. They will continue to move frequently, especially when you walk over them, and the floors will creak. 

  1. Warp

Just because the expansion or contraction of your laminate flooring is not obvious or cannot be seen by the naked eye does not mean that the planks are undamaged. They may still have small gaps, and this means moisture will be able to get underneath. The laminate flooring plans will buckle or warp, which is not something that can be fixed. 

  1. Crack

If there is excessive expansion and contraction of the laminate flooring planks, they may crack entirely because of the stress of swelling and shrinking. 


Does All Laminate Flooring Need to Acclimate?

A fiberboard core is used in all laminate flooring, so it’s understood that it needs to acclimate. This kind of material is porous, so air and even liquid can pass through. Acclimation allows the laminate flooring to adjust, preventing movement issues because of expansion and contraction in the future. 

Are 24 Hours Long Enough to Acclimate Laminate Flooring?

No, 24 hours are not long enough to acclimate laminate flooring. While the duration for acclimation will depend on the instructions provided by the manufacturer, you should note that a minimum of 48 hours are required for it. As a matter of fact, it’s recommended that you acclimate it for 72 hours to ensure it has appropriately been adjusted. 

Does Laminate Flooring Need to Acclimate Before Installation?

Yes, the acclimation process must occur before your laminate flooring is installed. If it’s installed without acclimation, the planks will expand and contract, and this will result in damage to your laminate flooring. They can warp, push up, or not fit together because they have not adjusted to the new environment. 

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