Acclimating hardwood

SherriodeSeptember 22, 2012

We are preparing to install solid hardwood-3" wide acacia. This is a DIY project. Never installed hardwood before, but we have experienced helpers.

I understand that the moisture content should be within 4% of that of the subfloor, but I was told that this particular species of wood tends to "hold on" to water and it will always be higher than the subfloor. We picked up 500 sq. ft of flooring a week ago. The boxes were all opened, plastic pulled off, and stacked with spacers between the boxes. MC was at 12% when we picked up the flooring. A week later it is still at 12%. I wouldn't be that concerned, except the subfloor is reading at just 1%. We are still at least 2 weeks from installation, but the MC has not budged, so I doubt it will change that much. Is the difference in MC going to cause the floor to buckle?

The subfloor is 65 y.o. solid planks (laid on the diagonal). Below is an unfinished basement, not wet, but more humid than the main floor. We will be nailing down the new hardwood. I live in the mid-atlantic region, humid summers and dry winters. The house is air conditioned, but temperatures have not been very warm so it hasn't run a lot. RH in the house has been about 60% at 72 degrees.

Do I need to crank the AC to dry out the air a bit more? Is it possible that the subfloor MC is only 1%, or is this likely a meter/operator error? Is the difference between the hardwood and the subfloor going to cause my new floor to fail? Any insight from a professional would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

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60% relative humidity is a touch high 45% is about what I have been told is approximately the max you want in your home and 30% during the heating season. I do not know what type of hardwood your speaking of but at humidity levels that high I don't think you will dry that wood much at all.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 8:07AM
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We would delay the install. Especially on a solid. Are you setting the meter correctly as I have never seen 1% reading ever.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 9:13PM
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Thank you, both! I will work to get the humidity level down. Hopefully that will speed along the acclimation process. Ironically, it would be easier if it were hot and humid outside. The AC would be running constantly. The weather is just TOO NICE right now :-)

Unfortunately, the moisture meter is a cheap one. There aren't different settings, just on/off and hold. I figure the 1% can't be right. At least I know the subfloor is acclimated, it's been here since 1947. I just can't get a comparative reading between the two, and I understand that's important.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 10:11PM
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Hi Sheriode,
Your biggest challenge is not the moisture content difference between your flooring and subfloor. 12% on the floor reading is way too high to install in your region. The moisture content should be kept at 6 to 9% all the time from factory level to the warehouse you picked up your floorings. Otherwise, when you turn on your furnace in winter season, your installed flooring will shrink and gap. That means you want to drop the MC from 12% to below 9% before installation, not after.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 1:04AM
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Thanks, I'm working on it. MC is finally starting to drop. We are still a couple of weeks from installation, so we may not have to delay the project.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 9:54AM
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