Acclimation is the first and most important step to ensuring that your bamboo or hardwood floors provide a lifetime of quality use.
What is Acclimation?
In the simplest sense, acclimation is where a material’s structures adjust to their surrounding environment – with the material changing temperature and humidity. As with flooring, acclimation means getting the wood accustomed to the environment in which it will be installed. This is done by turning on the climate control and placing and opening the boxes in the rooms they will be installed. There is a certain amount of time the flooring must stay like this before installation to allow the wood to balance itself out (acclimate) with the environment (read our guide on bamboo flooring installation).
Why Would Flooring Need to Acclimate?
Acclimation is important for flooring as bamboo and wood are porous, with microscopic holes that allow for air circulation. Along with this air comes the carrying of water molecules, i.e., humidity.
All wood and bamboo flooring are hygroscopic, meaning it takes in and releases moisture to balance itself with the environment. Should the air in a room be more humid than the bamboo or wood, the planks will take on humidity, and if it’s too humid, they will swell slightly.
If the air in a room is less humid than the bamboo or wood, the planks will release humidity. If it’s too dry, they may shrink slightly, and if excessive, they may cup. When the atmosphere is less humid and the planks dry out, small gaps can develop between the flooring planks in winter and typically close up in summer when the humidity increases.
Does Bamboo Flooring Need to Acclimate?
High-quality bamboo flooring requires at least 72 hours to acclimate, while lower quality brands require 1-2 weeks. All wood floors require some acclimation, and we recommend that you always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions for detailed acclimation periods.
The differences between brands lie in the flooring’s moisture content – the higher the moisture content, the longer it will take to acclimate.
Testing the Moisture Content of Bamboo Flooring
Due to the planks’ sheer density and some binding resins, bamboo flooring can’t typically be tested for moisture in the same way hardwood flooring can. For classic bamboo floors, pin meters are recommended so you can insert the pins parallel to the grain to the same depth. For strand-woven bamboo, pinless (surface/face) meters are recommended.
Is Bamboo Flooring Sensitive to Moisture?
Excessive moisture and humidity can damage all wood flooring; however, bamboo is slightly more water-resistant than wood flooring (you can read more about this in our blog, Is Bamboo Flooring Waterproof?).
Specifically, bamboo flooring’s optimal environment is 40% to 60% humidity with a temperature range between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
What Steps Can be Taken to Ensure Bamboo Flooring Acclimates Properly?
- Step 1: First, ensure the room’s humidity and temperature are at the right levels and won’t fluctuate too excessively. 40%-60% humidity is required for healthy wood and bamboo floors.
- Step 2: Cross stack the boxes for better airflow.
- Step 3: Cut open the long sides and end flaps of the flooring boxes, including the interior plastic, to ensure air can circulate through them.
- Step 4: Allow at least 72 hours for the bamboo flooring to acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity. If you are in an excessively dry or humid climate, allow 10 days of acclimation instead of 3 days.
- Step 5: The bamboo flooring will be ready for installation as soon as the moisture content difference between the flooring and subfloor is within 3%.
There we have it, a quick guide to hopefully answer the question of whether your bamboo flooring needs to acclimate. At least now you know how humidity affects wood flooring and, in particular, bamboo flooring.
Image Credit: Pitsch