Installing new vinyl plank flooring in your home is an exciting project! But before you start ripping up the old floors, there’s an important question you need to ask: Does vinyl plank flooring need to acclimate?
The answer is – it depends! Acclimation refers to allowing flooring materials to adjust to the temperature and humidity levels in your home before installation. This helps prevent issues like gaps, buckling, or clicking noises after the floors are in place.
So should you let those vinyl planks sit in the house for a few days first? I’ve installed my share of luxury vinyl plank flooring, and here’s what I’ve learned about acclimation and how to get it right the first time!
Does Vinyl Plank Flooring Need to Acclimate?
The short answer is yes, vinyl plank flooring should be acclimated before installation for best results. Based on research from top sites like FlooringInc, BobVila, and TheSpruce, proper acclimation is recommended by most vinyl plank manufacturers and flooring experts.
Acclimating vinyl plank flooring before installation allows it to adjust to your home’s temperature and humidity. Dramatic changes in temperature or humidity after installation can cause the planks to contract or expand excessively. This can lead to issues like gaps between planks, buckling, or unlocking.
Proper acclimation prevents these problems by allowing the planks to adjust gradually. Most experts recommend acclimating vinyl plank flooring in the room where it will be installed for 24-48 hours before installation. The flooring should be left in the centre of the room, unopened and laid flat.
Vinyl planks are sensitive to temperature changes because they are thermoplastic. The planks expand and contract with temperature swings. Acclimation allows the planks to adjust to the average temperature and humidity so significant expansion or contraction is less likely after installation.
How to Acclimate Vinyl Plank Flooring
Installing new vinyl plank flooring can transform the look of a room. However taking the time to properly acclimate the planks first is an essential step for a successful installation. Failing to acclimate vinyl plank flooring can lead to problems like gapping, buckling and unlocking after the floor is down.
So what exactly do “acclimating” vinyl planks involve? Here is a step-by-step guide to properly acclimate vinyl plank flooring before installation:
Step 1: Check the Manufacturer’s Recommendations
The first step is to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for acclimation. While most experts recommend 24-48 hours of acclimation, requirements can vary by brand. Reviewing the manufacturer’s installation guide will provide the specific temperature, humidity and time recommendations for your vinyl planks.
Following the manufacturer’s directions helps ensure your flooring acclimates properly and looks great for years after installation. Their guidelines are based on the specific materials and construction of your brand of luxury vinyl plank.
Step 2: Know the Ideal Temperature and Humidity
Most manufacturers recommend acclimating vinyl plank flooring at the same temperature and humidity level you plan to have in the installed room. The ideal temperature is between 65°F and 85°F. The best relative humidity range is 30% to 50%.
Extreme low or high temperatures outside of the 65°F to 85°F range can cause the planks to contract or expand excessively during acclimation. Excessively dry or humid conditions can also hinder proper acclimation.
Use a thermometer and hygrometer to monitor temperature and humidity during acclimation. Make adjustments as needed to keep conditions within the target ranges.
Step 3: Allow Planks to Acclimate for 24-48 Hours
With ideal conditions set, it’s time to let those vinyl planks acclimate! Place the unopened flooring boxes flat in the centre of the installation room for 24-48 hours before installation.
Avoid stacking boxes or leaning them against walls during acclimation. This can cause warping or prevent the planks from adjusting evenly.
Ideally, spread out boxes every 4 to 6 feet for optimal acclimation. This allows air to easily circulate around the planks.
If the room will be occupied during acclimation, place a protective barrier around the boxes to prevent damage. Just make sure airflow is not restricted.
Step 4: Inspect Planks Prior to Installation
After 24-48 hours of acclimation, the big moment arrives – time to install your beautiful new vinyl plank flooring!
First, inspect each plank for any damage or defects prior to installation. Check for things like:
- Cracks, chips or scratches
- Warping or distortion
- Discoloration or fading
- Gapping between locks
Set any questionable planks aside. Only install planks that are in pristine condition for best results.
For peace of mind, inspect and arrange planks in the final order you plan to install them. This allows you to identify any defects ahead of time rather than being surprised mid-installation!
Step 5: Handle Any Acclimation Issues
In some cases, minor issues can arise during acclimation:
- Buckling or warping – This can occur if temperatures or humidity are outside the recommended ranges. It may be possible to reverse minor warping by adjusting conditions. But planks with permanent warping or damage should be discarded and replaced.
- Gapping – Minor gapping between the locking mechanisms can also develop during acclimation. Stop installation if this occurs, and allow planks to acclimate for a longer duration. The gaps should close once the flooring fully adjusts.
- Noisy locking mechanisms – Click-lock vinyl planks can make snapping or popping noises during acclimation as they adjust. This should go away after full acclimation is complete. If noises persist during installation, the locking mechanisms may be defective.
With the right acclimation approach, your luxury vinyl planks will be ready for smooth, seamless installation! Just follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid issues down the road.
Tips for Successful Vinyl Plank Flooring Installation
Working with Professional Installers
When it comes to vinyl plank flooring installation, working with professional installers is highly recommended. They have the knowledge, experience, and expertise to ensure a successful and long-lasting installation.
Professional installers are familiar with the acclimation process and can guide you through each step, from preparation to post-installation care.
Proper Acclimation Procedures
Following proper acclimation procedures is crucial for a successful vinyl plank flooring installation. This includes adhering to the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding acclimation timeframes, temperature, and humidity conditions.
It is essential to allow the flooring sufficient time to adjust to the installation area before proceeding with the installation.
Acclimation Monitoring Techniques
Regularly monitoring the acclimation progress is essential to ensure that the flooring is adequately adjusting to the installation area’s conditions. This can be done by using temperature and humidity measuring devices and comparing the readings to the recommended levels specified by the manufacturer.
Monitoring allows you to make any necessary adjustments or pauses in the acclimation process.
Addressing Installation Challenges
During the installation process, challenges may arise that require special attention or solutions. It is essential to address these challenges promptly to avoid compromising the acclimation or installation of the vinyl plank flooring.
Consulting with professional installers or contacting the manufacturer for guidance can help overcome any installation obstacles.
When it comes to installing vinyl plank flooring, taking the time to acclimate the planks is a crucial first step. Although it adds a bit of time to your project, proper acclimation helps ensure your new flooring looks amazing for years to come.
Allowing vinyl planks to adjust to your home’s conditions before installing can prevent unsightly and costly problems down the road. Minor gapping, buckling, and unlocking becomes much less likely when the planks have time to adapt to the proper temperature and humidity.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the ideal acclimation timeframe and conditions. Investing a day or two upfront saves you from headaches later. Also take time to carefully inspect each plank prior to installation for any defects or damage.
With the right preparation, you can look forward to enjoying your beautiful new vinyl plank flooring for decades. Take it from me – the extra time for acclimation is well worth it for flawless results! Let me know if you have any other flooring questions.