Acclimation - What does it really mean?

I get people calling me all the time questioning why we didn't acclimate their hardwood flooring before we installed it. My simple answer is that it was already "acclimated" to their particular environment.

Acclimation in the hardwood flooring business actually stems from a time long ago when technology wasn't nearly as good as it is today, and the moisture content of the flooring was far less consistent. Back then the heating and air conditioning in homes was more basic as well. Acclimating the flooring to the home for a period of time was a way to mitigate the inconsistencies of the product and to prepare the wood for the environment it would be installed into.

Nowadays, the better kiln drying equipment of manufacturers, and quick shipping times means that most wood flooring products are actually pre-acclimated for the average North American market. This doesn't mean one can completely ignore the purpose of acclimation however. Every job site should be tested prior to delivering and installing any natural wood product to ensure the conditions at that time are the same as they will be during normal living conditions and acceptable for the wood floor being installed. As well, every batch of wood should also be checked prior to installation to insure that nothing unexpected has occurred, either in the manufacturing process or during the trip from the mill to the home.

Every hardwood flooring installer should have a minimum of three devices to check for moisture content. They should have a hygrometer to test the temperature and relative humidity of the air. They should also have a probe type and a scanning type moisture meter to check the moisture content in the wood flooring and the subfloor it is going to be installed on.