What Happens if I Don’t Acclimate Laminate Flooring?

When laid correctly, laminate flooring is a great choice. It will be able to last for a long time and will be easy to clean. However, when you are laying your flooring, there is an often-overlooked step. You need to allow it to acclimate. But why is it so important? 

Laminate boards contain compressed wood fibers. At high temperatures and high humidity, they will expand. Floor buckling might result. As the temperature drops, they will contract, causing cracks to appear on your floor. Letting your laminate flooring acclimate for 2 to 3 days will prevent all of this.

Several consequences stem from a failure to acclimate your laminate flooring properly. Keep reading if you wish to learn some of the issues that you might face. 

Why Does Laminate Flooring Need to Acclimate?

Laminate flooring is one of the few (like hardwood flooring) porous flooring currently on the market. And with everything that has minute pores, it allows air or liquid to pass through. This means that when exposed to humid air, the core of the laminate will start to expand, so this means when humidity is at its highest, like in summer, it might expand even more

When it’s cool and dry, it will start to contract, so you should almost never see your laminate flooring expand during winter.   

This is true for all materials that allow air and or humidity to pass through. 

This all sounds dramatic, but these expansions and contractions are mostly small and insignificant in most cases. However, they might cause your floor to shrink or even buckle in some cases, especially when you lay laminate flooring in an H pattern

The easiest solution to this? Acclimating your laminate flooring before you install it. This will allow it to adjust to the new environment and help prevent any movement once your flooring is laid. 

What Happens if I Don’t Acclimate Laminate Flooring?

We have already covered what happens when you don’t acclimate. However, let’s see what really happens. 

Laminate flooring is laid with a slot or lock system, and when it contracts, the laminate boards will start to shrink, leaving gaps between the joints that are horrendous to see. It can lead to breakage, which inevitably will lead to repairs that may cost you a lot. This happens even more if you opt to glue your laminate flooring joints.

If you lived in a humid environment and didn’t take the time to acclimate, your laminate flooring will swell in size, leading your boards to buckle, split, warp, or even crack, which will again turn leads to again lead to buckling repairs you really want to avoid. 

How Long Does Laminate Flooring Need to Acclimate?

I know that waiting is not something most of us like to do. Especially when you’re so excited to start with your project, unfortunately, it might be the best thing to do in some cases. 

The amount of time you need to acclimate should, in most cases, be written by the manufacturer, which makes it pretty easy if you ask me. However, not all manufacturers mention that the type of laminate floor you have needs to acclimate. Even if that’s the case, I would still strongly advise doing so. This way, it won’t void your floor’s warranty.

The average length of time needed for acclimation ranges from 48 to 72 hours, depending on how long ago the shipment came into where they will be installed. 

This means 48-72 hours before you install and not purchase. 

How Long Should You Acclimate Laminate Flooring Before Installing?

Laminate flooring needs between 48 and 72 hours to acclimate before installation. Depending on the environment, this may change. 

If the manufacturer writes differently, it’s strongly recommended to follow these instructions to avoid your warranty being void. Also, don’t forget you also need to let your laminate flooring settle which is important as letting acclimate.

Do You Need to Unwrap Laminate Flooring While It Acclimates?

It’s recommended to leave your laminate flooring shrink-wrapped unless your manufacturer instructs you otherwise. 

Most if not all manufacturers recommend leaving them shrink-wrapped during the acclimation process. Also, it’s important to note that unwrapping rhythm does not help or affect the acclimation process.

Can You Stack Laminate Flooring to Acclimate?

Stacking laminate flooring while acclimating is totally ok, provided they are still remaining flat. You can do so in a grid formation. This will help let air flow freely over and around. If you want to know more about this topic, check this article

How to Acclimate Laminate Flooring?

If you’re not sure how to acclimate your laminate flooring, no fear because we have an excellent guide where you can find all the info you need. But here is the short version.

Your laminate flooring must match the same temperature and humidity of the room you wish to install it to acclimate the right way. You probably should always try to acclimate to the same place where you wish to install it. 

  1. Leaving your laminate flooring flat on the floor should be enough. There is no need to leave them horizontally which might cause them to slip and fall, breaking in the process if the impact is hard enough. 
  2. You should also avoid leaving them on the walls as they may start to bend or warp over time.
  3. Suppose you wish to install your laminate floors much later, for example, during spring, but it’s winter. In that case, it’s highly recommended to level the temperature by heating it to adjust it to when it’s time to install it.
  4. Space the boxes of floorboards out around the room. Don’t put them too close to the walls. It’s also good to refrain from opening the boxes and removing the shrink-wrapping. 
  5. It’s recommended that you leave 48 to 72 hours before you start the installation process. Though if you want to leave it for longer, it isn’t going to harm the floorboards. After this is done, you should be able to remove the packaging and start laying the floorboards. As long as you include some expansion space, you shouldn’t have any problems. 
  6. Don’t forget to always acclimate the entirety of the flooring at the same time. This means the amount you need + another 10% to account for wastage. 
  7. When it’s a new house, there is a chance that you’re also doing things such as decorating or painting. It’s totally understandable if you wish to win time by doing them while the laminate floorings are acclimating. However, they may lead to extra moisture in the room, which is something we should try to avoid at all costs. 

Ways to Fix Expanding Laminate Floor Boards

If you have noticed buckling floors, you might need to come up with a solution. There are a few things that you can try. This can include taking measures like: 

  • Considering what is causing the buckling. Water spills might be responsible for the problem. In this case, it will be relatively easy to control. You just need to mop up the water before the laminate can absorb it. This is also a good way of keeping the laminate boards in good condition. You will be able to stop mold from growing. If this keeps happening, it could indicate a leaking pipe or damaged appliance. 
  • Stopping extreme heat and humidity. Controlling the weather elements can be more difficult. However, you can use air conditioners and dehumidifiers. 
  • Putting heavy objects on the buckling site. Some people recommend weighing down the buckling site with something heavy. However, this effect is often limited, especially if the whole floor is buckling. Plus, there is the risk of damaging the laminate flooring. 

Ultimately, though, these are short-term solutions. They won’t address the underlying cause of the problem; the boards haven’t been acclimated or laid properly. Because of this, every summer and winter, the issue will re-emerge. 

In the long-term, the only solution will be to remove the laminate floorboards and re-lay them with an expansion gap, designed to give them enough space to move. This is a big expense and will create a lot of inconveniences.

Final Thoughts

Laminate can be a great flooring solution for your home. But sometimes, it can cause problems as the wood starts to absorb moisture and react to heat. This can cause buckling or shrinkage. Thankfully, this isn’t something that you need to worry about. You just need to give the board some time to acclimate and add an expansion gap. 

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