Acclimatising the timber

Acclimatising the timber

N.B. David Gunton, our consultant parquetier, is not an enthusiast of acclimatising timber floorings for every situation. However, he concedes that there are situations where it is useful. Further, he recognises that there is still a long standing overhanging belief that acclimatisation of the timber to the site is the 'old fashioned' craftsman's way of doing things and therefore must be correct. It is hard to break down ancient fallacies. Acclimatisation of timber is a wide ranging subject upon which volumes can and have been written.

You should order flooring kiln dried to the correct moisture content for the building. This will be at 8 to 10% average moisture content for most modern or well modernised buildings. The lower range will apply for floors with underfloor heating. Modern buildings have a high level of atmospheric stability. This is created by good ventilation, by draught free windows and doors, central heating and insulation. However, in an unrestored draughty Victorian vicarage, with single glazed sash windows and coal fires, beautifully situated in water meadows by a river, you would want the timber flooring delivered at around 12 to 14% average moisture content.

Do not acclimatise the timber to building site atmospheric conditions. It is no good acclimatising timber to conditions which are not as they will be when the building is in occupation. If you are not confident that the conditions are correct, do not acclimatise kiln dried timber but keep it well wrapped up - top, bottom, ends and sides - until you are confident!

If you are confident of the conditions, but not confident of the moisture content of the timber, the timber floor should be allowed to acclimatise in the rooms in which it is to be installed for 3 days or longer. A lot depends upon the time of the year and the weather conditions prevailing. You should ask the floor contractor to test the moisture content of the flooring before the floor is laid and record the readings.

Be sure you understand how long the installation and finishing will take. Very broad guidelines suggest you should allow approximately one eight hour man day per 2.5 sq.m. of floor to be laid and finished. However, border takes much longer to lay than the field of the floor, and corners take more time than the straight run of the wall. So, a 30 sq.m. long narrow Victorian style hallway with lots of corners and doorways will take, proportionately, considerably longer to lay than a 30 sq.m. modern rectangular room with one doorway and no fireplace. Prefinished flooring is usually fitted very much more quickly than hand finished flooring.

In some situations the flooring contractor will not want to apply finish to the floor until the floor has acclimatised to its new situation. However, finishing is normally carried out 1-7 days after installation of unfinished floorings. You can usually walk on the floor during this waiting time unless the floor has been fine sanded in preparation for finishing, in which case the contractor will not want you to put dirty footmarks upon it.

For more information on  Acclimatising the timber  talk to  Parquet & General Flooring Co Ltd

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