As you plan your flooring project you may wonder, “Does vinyl plank flooring need to acclimate?” That’s a great question to ask. Vinyl plank flooring does, in fact, need to acclimate before you lay it.
Does vinyl plank flooring need to acclimate?
The inside layer of vinyl plank flooring is made of a porous material. Air can travel inside there. Once there, it can make a significant difference in the shape and size of your planks. Let’s consider why that is.
The air in your home contains water vapor. We use the term “humidity level” to describe how much moisture the air contains. Also, the air is typically kept within a particular temperature range.
The conditions in the store where you purchased your flooring might be quite different. It could be warmer or cooler, and the humidity level could be higher or lower.
When humid air fills the porous spaces of your flooring, it causes the vinyl planks to expand. Dry air, on the other hand, leads to contraction.
Your vinyl plank flooring needs time to get used to your home, rather than the conditions of the store or warehouse where it’s been sitting. That way, the temperature and humidity levels inside the planks will be even with those of the surroundings.
Even if you’ve had the flooring material on hand for a while, acclimation is still important. The garage or basement where you were storing it probably doesn’t share the same conditions as the rest of your house.
What can happen if you skip vinyl plank flooring acclimation?
Sometimes, people are anxious to install their vinyl plank flooring as soon as possible. They come home from the store, tear into the packages and immediately start laying the planks. Unfortunately, they often end up regretting it.
If you don’t allow the flooring material to acclimate, it may change size after you install it. As the room air makes its way into the planks’ pores, the pieces will respond to the amount of humidity the air contains.
If the humidity level goes up, the planks will expand. Because you’ve tightly packed them together on the floor, they may warp or buckle. The problem will be even worse if you didn’t include an expansion joint in your installation.
On the other hand, if the humidity level goes down, the planks will contract. Their new, smaller size could lead to unsightly gaps between the pieces.
No matter which of these scenarios happens to you, you probably won’t be happy about it. If you’re going to put the effort into installing vinyl plank flooring, be sure to schedule in time for the material to acclimate to the room first.
How should you acclimate vinyl plank flooring?
The goal of acclimation is for the flooring to get used to the room where you’re going to put it. Here’s a general overview of how to do it.
Before you head to the store, get your room conditions ready. For most people, that means making sure the thermostat is set to your typical temperature. If you like your room quite chilly, you’ll need to bump the temp up a bit. Most manufacturers recommend acclimating vinyl plank flooring in rooms that are at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit but no more than 80 degrees.
Also, you’ll need to keep an eye on the humidity level. Most flooring companies recommend a humidity level of 35% to 75%. You can measure this with a hygrometer. Use a humidifier or a dehumidifier if adjustments are necessary.
Once you buy your flooring, bring it inside. Set the packages in the room where you plan to install the material. Ideally, you’ll choose a spot that’s away from direct sunlight.
Open the boxes so that the air can fully circulate around the pieces. Then, allow the planks to sit undisturbed for at least 48 hours before installing your new floor.
In general, the process for acclimating vinyl plank flooring is fairly standard. Even still, it’s always a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s directions before you get started.