If you have been thinking about installing laminate flooring, you’ve probably heard that the laminate planks need to be acclimated. This is an important step in the process of laminate flooring installation.
If you do it wrong, you risk damaging your entire floor.
You can stack your laminate flooring to acclimate it. However, as you stack them, you need to do it in a way that ensures maximum airflow. The best way to do this is to lay the boxes side by side on the floor. You can also stack them ensuring that each stack is not more than three feet/ one meter high.
If you are planning to stack your laminate flooring to acclimate them, leave the planks in the boxes. Do not remove them until after acclimation to avoid negatively impacting the process.
How To Stack Laminate Flooring To Acclimate Them Correctly
Here is the step-by-step process to follow to correctly acclimate laminate flooring by stacking:
- Check that the room has the correct temperature and moisture. The best temperature and moisture levels for acclimating laminate flooring are 64-84 degrees F (17 to 29 degrees C) temperature and between 25-75% relative humidity.
- Lay 4 boxes side by side. Leave several inches between them. They should form a square.
- Lay another four boxes on top of the first ones in the opposite direction. Leave a similar amount of space between them.
- Keep stacking your laminate flooring boxes in this way. Each layer should be perpendicular to the last. There should also be some space between the individual boxes. Do this until the stack is a maximum of three feet high.
- When your first stack is 3 feet high, start another stack and repeat the process.
The space that is left between the individual boxes is important because it ensures proper air circulation between them. Do not stack the boxes too close to each other because some of them will not get enough air. This will make them have different internal temperatures.
That said, do not also stack the boxes too far apart. They need to be close enough to provide each other with that extra support. This prevents sagging.
When laminate flooring planks sag, they can get permanently bent. This can make it difficult to get a perfect gapless floor during installation.
It will take between 48 and 72 hours for the laminate flooring to fully acclimate. After this period, you can now install the planks.
After installing them, give them another 24 hours before using the room. This will give the floor time to set, preventing buckling or shifting during use.
The conditions of the room where acclimation is taking place should also remain the same through the acclimating process.
This means the moisture and temperature should not change too much within those 48 to 72 hours.
All the boxes of laminate flooring should be acclimated together. This way, they will be adjusted evenly by the time they are ready to be installed.
With these steps, the laminate flooring should last for between 15 to 20 years before you need to replace it. This makes it potentially one of the most durable types of flooring.
Why You Should Acclimate Laminate Flooring
As mentioned earlier, acclimation is important in the installation of this flooring material. But why exactly do you need to do it?
Well, the manufacturing process of laminate flooring planks takes place in an industrial environment that has a different temperature and moisture content than your home.
When you buy them, the temperature and humidity change can potentially cause the material to expand or shrink.
These fluctuations in temperature and humidity may stress the laminate material. If you install the planks while they are in this state, you risk damaging your entire floor.
Acclimation allows these changes to happen before installing the floor, reducing the risk of damage. When the planks are properly adjusted to the new environment, they can be installed without any problems.
What Happens If You Don’t Acclimate Laminate Flooring Correctly?
When you install laminate planks that are not properly acclimated, the individual planks will expand or shrink. This depends on the conditions in the room.
Even if the planks look good at the moment of installation, they may still expand or contract later, which leads to:
- Gaps: Gaps happen when 2 planks that are next to each other shrink, causing a separation between them. Gaps often collect dirt causing an unsightly look. They can also make the planks prone to peeling or chipping.
- Warping: This occurs when the planks shrink or expand but it’s not immediately visible. This leaves small gaps that allow moisture under the flooring which cause warping.
- Buckling: This occurs when there are three planks next to each other. When the two planks on either side expand, the force pushes the middle plank from both ends. This leads to visible buckling on the floor.
- Peaking: This occurs when two laminate planks expand and push towards each other at the seam. This causes a noticeable peak.
- Creaking: This is where the planks do not fit correctly together, leading to uneven points. When you step on them, the movement between the planks causes the floor to creak.
When acclimating laminate flooring, the idea is to expose them to the conditions in the room. As you can see, you can stack laminate flooring to acclimate it. You just have to do it correctly to prevent it from getting damaged.
When in doubt, instead of stacking the boxes, simply lay them out in the room. Space them out ensuring there is proper air circulation around each box. Doing this will still acclimate the laminate flooring without having to stack them.
The laminate flooring should acclimate in the space where it will be installed for about 48 hours. Check your manufacturer’s instructions to find out the exact recommended time frame for your specific brand.
Once your planks are properly acclimated, they are ready to install. Properly acclimated and installed laminate flooring should last you up to 20 years.