Acclimate, Acclimate, Acclimate!

We always hear that Arizona is too dry for hardwood floors. That is the case for some engineered floors and a few solid woods, but with proper acclimation wood performs almost flawlessly.

Yes, we are dry. But we are always dry, which makes our environment quite stable. This is not as confusing as it sounds. Once a product has properly acclimated we generally see little movement due to our climate-controlled homes and relatively short monsoon season. This means that once a wood floor has reached it’s EMC% (Equilibrium Moisture Content), it will move very little. Now there are exceptions, and care must be taken to control the homes environment.

Acclimation takes time and can not be rushed. Denser woods tend to acclimate slower, so be patient! Buy good moisture meters and use them. They will help assure a sound installation that will last a lifetime!

You can learn more about the process of acclimating wood and how to properly acclimate a wood floor in the NWFA Moisture and Wood Technical Publication No. A100 (revised 2017) on page 14.

5 thoughts

  1. Jason can you provide an example say 3/4″ Hard Maple being delivered to the jobsite at 8% and guessing you need it at 6% or less before installation. You say “be patient” in your best guess how slow would it take, 1-week, 3-weeks, 6-weeks to reach equilibrium? Just trying to give the readers example of how fast/slow wood acclimates in your region and the meaning of patience.

    1. Hi Roy, just wanted to put my two cents in. Putting a time frame on acclimation like 1 week or 6 weeks is risky to do because it depends on where the moisture is. If the flooring was dried to 6% MC to begin with and you get it to the jobsite and it reads at 8% MC, that means that it’s just surface moisture and it usually goes away fairly quickly, probably a week in dry Arizona. If the moisture is at 8% and the flooring/lumber wasn’t dried properly to begin with, that could mean that you are dealing with core moisture and that could take a lot of time to dispel. I’ve heard horror stories about wet 2-1/4″ Red Oak acclimating for months before installation and then it still shrank after install. Knowing how your product is dried is a key component to saving you acclimation time not to mention all of the other drying issues like delam, splits, checks, warps, etc.

  2. I would think that prefinished floors could have finish delamination problems after drying down to a lower humidity than what they were manufactured at. The finish doesn’t necessarily shrink even thought the wood does

  3. Hi Roy.
    As you know there are many factors that are involved in the acclimation process. With this said, as a floor nears lower moisture levels like 6% and it’s target number, it tends to desire moisture slower.
    Using your scenario of 3/4” solid unfinished maple, I would take an educated guess at 10-14 days for proper acclimation from 8%-6%. This would include loose stacking the product and providing some form of low volume air movement across the boards. But all of this has to be confirmed with moisture meters. I always lean toward the conservative side with this process, and allow plenty of time in the schedule for this process.
    I hope this helps clear the muddy waters of acclimation.

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