office chair on a bamboo wood floor

Why Do I Have to Wait for Bamboo Laminate Flooring to Breathe Before Installing?

Why Do I Have to Wait for Bamboo Laminate Flooring to Breathe Before Installing?

office chair on a bamboo wood floor

Laminate flooring provides homeowners with an inexpensive and functional but still visually appealing type of flooring. Unlike more expensive flooring types like hardwood floors, laminate flooring provides the appeal of wooden floors but with the practical laminate layer that makes the flooring relatively more low maintenance than other types of wooden floors. For laminate floor types like solid bamboo flooring, it’s essential for some flooring planks to sit out for at least two weeks to breathe.

So why do I have to wait for bamboo laminate flooring to breathe before installing? This is an essential process called “acclimation,” and most types of wood flooring need time to adjust to the humidity and temperature of your home. This is done to lessen the possibility of warping after installation. This way, you can really make sure that your flooring adjusts well to the conditions of your house, like its natural temperature.  

Why Laminate Flooring Has to Breathe

Acclimation is the process of getting adjusted to new normal living conditions by adapting to it with time and exposure. For example, if you’ve lived your whole life in California but then decide to spend a month in Alaska, you’re definitely not going to get acclimated to the colder weather instantly. The same process can be said for laminate flooring and its organic compounds. 

All types of wood flooring (including hardwood floors) are porous to some extent because of the wood materials and natural product used to create it. This means they have holes that air can pass through. This means your laminate flooring can be affected by temperature, humidity, and the climate conditions in your area. Giving your planks time outside of its box gives it enough time to adjust to the temperature and humidity of your home, reducing the risk of its composition changing after you’ve installed it onto your floors.    

What Happens If You Don’t Wait?

Mature Woman Using App On Phone To Control Digital Central Heating Thermostat

Wood floor acclimation is essential for long-lasting results. Every type of flooring has varying amounts of moisture in it, and the environmental conditions in the room you’re installing your laminate flooring in can affect the appearance of your planks over time. 

If you don’t wait, you’re not giving your wood floor materials enough time to adjust to their normal living conditions and adjust your wood flooring moisture content. This means that it will continue to adjust after installation. And while the changes in size may not be very noticeable to the human eye, a slight change in size can be enough to affect its structure and the structure of other planks, given the installation that leaves little to no room in between planks. 

1. Excess Humidity in the Room

If the actual living conditions of the room are more humid than your bamboo flooring, your planks will absorb the moisture in the air. Rooms that are very humid can result in your floor absorbing too much moisture, which can cause it to swell. Left to acclimate, it’s less likely to warp once installed in the room because it has already adjusted to the humidity. 

Should you decide to install your floors unacclimated, these will continue to acclimate and swell. This not only warps your plank as it’s glued to the floor, but the increase in size can cause it to push surrounding planks, distorting its uniform appearance and causing movement issues in your installation. 

Excess moisture content can also result in mold growth as the lower side of your planks become a suitable breeding ground for mold spores. 

2. Dry Air and High Temperatures

On the other hand, if the baseline moisture content of your wood laminate flooring is higher than the humidity of the room, your planks will release their moisture and shrink slightly. If installed unacclimated, it can continue to shrink and have a cupping effect, which is when the edges of your laminate boards are higher than its center, creating a concave shape. This can create gaps in between your planks, especially in the summer.

Once acclimated, your wood flooring materials will all be conditioned to the normal conditions and adjust to the temperature and weather similarly. Factors like winter and summer can change the room’s temperature and humidity, but uniform acclimation can help negate the effects of seasonal temperatures and prevent flooring failure.   

How to Acclimate Laminate Flooring

Acclimation of wood flooring is fairly easy to do. If you’re going for a DIY installation process, do this days before installation. And if you’re hiring flooring professionals to handle the installation, doing this days or weeks before they arrive can ensure you have enough time to acclimate your boards. 

  1. Finish all other projects in the room. If you’re renovating or are installing flooring into a newly-built home, make sure all other projects are finished before installing your wood floors. Painted walls should be cured for at least three days, while newly-made concrete floors should cure for up to two months before installing laminate flooring.
  2. Ensure your room’s temperature and humidity are stable. Bamboo laminate flooring is relatively more water-resistant than other types of flooring, but it’s still ideal to keep humidity between 40 to 60% and temperatures at around 60 to 80 °F, or roughly 15 to 26 °C. This is the optimal wood flooring moisture that can prevent swelling and shrinkage. If you want to be sure about the humidity in the room, you can purchase digital room thermometers and hygrometers (humidity sensors) at a hardware store or online for less than $20.
  3. Place a waterproof sheet on the floor. This will be where you cross-stack your bamboo laminates, especially if your floor is concrete or on top of the crawl space. If you do not place a sheet on the floor, the content of wood flooring may absorb humidity and transfer it onto the bottom side of your first layer of planks. You can use a tarp or any waterproof membrane to do this. 
  4. Cross-stack the boxes in the middle of the room. As much as possible, avoid stacking your boxes close to a wall so that all sides get even temperature and humidity exposure. Leave at least two feet of space in between the cartons to ensure airflow for all your cartons. 
  5. Cut your cartons along the sides. Cut along one of the longer sides and on both shorter sides, including the plastic inside covering the boards. This will provide enough exposure to acclimate your boards.
  6. Leave it for up to two weeks. Your flooring should be fully acclimated after two weeks. You can open the doors and windows to the room to improve air circulation, but make sure the temperature and humidity stay within range. If it rains, close the windows to prevent excess humidity. 

Why Higher Quality Flooring Has Shorter Acclimation Period

Wooden blocks with HIGH LOW text

Two weeks can seem like a long time to acclimate your bamboo laminate flooring. However, it’s possible to acclimate your wood floors in as little as three days. It ultimately depends on the quality of the laminate flooring you’re buying. 

High quality bamboo laminate flooring can take at least three days to acclimate to your room’s environment. The two-week recommendation is typically reserved for lower quality flooring brands. The best way to tell if you’re buying higher-quality flooring is by using pin meters or surface moisture meters to compare brands.

Another way to check moisture content is to read the manufacturer’s installation instructions. These should give you a recommended time to acclimate their laminate boards: those that require less time are the higher quality flooring products, while those that require weeks’ worth of acclimation may be a lower quality brand that requires more time. Factors like the species of wood flooring and the wood floor materials used can also affect how long you should wait. 

The difference between higher and lower quality wood is its moisture content. It takes more time to dry out boards with high moisture content in a dry room than it does to acclimate boards with low-moisture content in a humid room. High quality laminate flooring has less moisture content and thus requires less time to acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity. 

Get Exceptional Quality Bamboo Flooring at Zothex Flooring

While it usually takes two weeks to let bamboo laminate flooring acclimate to your home’s temperature and humidity, you can reduce this period down to a few days without risking your boards warping or cupping when installed by buying higher quality laminate flooring.  It might add a few days to your home renovation project, but giving your boards enough time to adjust to your home’s environment can reduce the risk of warping once it’s installed. 

At Zothex Flooring, we offer quality laminate flooring that’s built to go the distance. We understand what homeowners are looking for when they browse through our selections, and it’s our mission to find personalized solutions to help you get the best results for your renovation and remodeling projects. Visit one of our showrooms closest to you today, or give us a call and we can arrange to help you place an order.