When those packs of fresh new laminate flooring appear, you’ll be giddy with excitement about how great your new flooring is going to look! You might read or hear from different sources that your laminate boards will need time to acclimatise before they can be fitted into your space, whether you’re fitting laminate flooring yourself or having a professional fitter do the job.
This guide will explain what acclimatising really means, and how to do it for laminate flooring to make sure it doesn’t cause any future problems. After all, you want your lovely new flooring to look as great as it does now for as long as possible. So, let’s jump right in with our expert tips and tricks.
When we talk about your laminate flooring needing time to ‘acclimatise’, what we mean is that your flooring has to get used to the space it's going to be in before you have it fitted. Before installation, most flooring, including engineered wood, vinyl, and LVT, needs time to acclimatise. This is because the temperature in the room you’re fitting is likely to be warmer than the warehouse where your flooring came from, and boards can grow and shrink when it's getting used to different temperatures and moisture levels.
Leaving your laminate flooring to rest in the room it’s going to be installed in for a minimum of 24 hours can help your flooring get used to the temperature and moisture levels of your home and figure out what size it's happiest at. Your flooring will still fluctuate slightly even after it’s been fitted as the temperatures outside change, but a lot less so than if you were to fit your boards without acclimatising them first! This will mean you’re less likely to experience future problems with your boards shrinking or growing and causing problems like bouncing, lifting, or separating. You can find out more about the costs of fitting laminate and its benefits in our guide to the types of laminate flooring.
First things first, make sure that any painting or plastering is fully dried with a minimum of seven days before you begin to acclimatise your laminate flooring because this can affect the moisture in the air more than you realise. Try to make sure the temperature of the room is around 16-25 °C, the optimal conditions for your laminate flooring not to expand or shrink too much.
Another important pre-check is to make sure your subfloor is in good condition – if your subfloor is damaged or wet, it will damage your boards when you lay them. A really good way to know if your subfloors are good to go for new flooring is by checking out our guide to the 4 signs of a good subfloor. If it's cold or wet, it will also cause lots of problems with your boards acclimatising, as they will warp and change shape, damaging them before you’ve even had the chance to admire them! This is also a good time to check that any underfloor heating is turned to the temperature set out in the manufacturer’s installation guidelines too since you’ll be placing the boards directly on the floor.
Next, read the instructions from your manufacturer on how long your flooring needs to acclimatise, and if you don’t have any instructions, then leave your flooring for a minimum period of 48 hours in the room you’re going to place them. To store them correctly, you also want to ensure that the packs are placed flat on the ground with gaps between them. This will keep them flat and in the correct shape.
Leave them in their original packaging, so that the entire pack of boards acclimatise at the same rate while they sit in the room for a couple of days. Once the required time has passed, you can open those boxes and get ready for the fitting! For any information on fitting, check out our guide on how to lay laminate flooring.
Some of the top questions our in-store floorologists are asked about acclimatising laminate flooring can be answered quite easily – so here’s our expert advice on acclimatising your laminate flooring:
No, you should not stack laminate flooring when you acclimatise it. Your boards will come in pre-packaged boxes from the warehouse that you should keep intact, and you should lay each box horizontally flat on a space on the floor of the room it will be fitted in with a gap between each. This ensures that all your boards will acclimatise similarly, and you won’t break or bend any boards by stacking them upwards, as this can cause damage to the joints and locking mechanisms.
Laminate flooring needs a minimum of 48 hours to acclimatise, however, you can leave your flooring up to 72 hours if your manufacturer hasn’t provided any instructions and you want to be extra careful that it’s had time to get used to the conditions in the room.
If you don’t acclimatise laminate flooring, there’s a high likelihood that it will begin to expand and contract after it’s been fitted. This could result in your boards shrinking from colder temperatures, leaving you with boards that are separating – more on that in our ‘Why is my laminate flooring separating?’ guide – or boards that have swollen due to high temperature and humidity, which can result in peaking joints and expansion gap issues.
The expansion gap is the recommended/advised gap left all around the edges of the room that is normally hidden by a trim. This gap is left there to account for any slight growth of your laminate boards when warmer weather rolls in during spring and summer, but it might not be big enough to contain swelling from boards that haven’t acclimatised. This can result in your boards lifting and pushing upwards due to not having enough room to expand outwards. There’s plenty of information about how to deal with this issue in our ‘Why is my laminate flooring lifting?’ guide, but it’s always best to avoid any issues by letting your flooring acclimatise in ideal conditions!
If you have any more questions about your laminate flooring, or if you want some advice on how well laminate flooring would work in your house, you can always book a free home visit from our floorologists. They’ll pop round and check out your space, as well as bring some samples for you to take a look at. And if you’ve already had your laminate flooring expertly fitted using our fitting service, why not check out our laminate care guide to make sure your flooring looks great for many years to come?