Can Hardwood Flooring Acclimate in the Box? 

You’re probably wondering if you can just leave those fresh hardwood planks inside their delivery boxes to acclimate before installation. While it’s not the ideal method recommended by most manufacturers, sometimes you gotta work with what you’ve got. The short answer is yes, you can attempt to acclimate hardwood flooring while it’s still contained in the boxes – but it requires following some specific steps

In today’s article, I’ll walk you through the proper procedure for box acclimation to allow maximum airflow exposure to the planks. It’s not perfect, but it can work in a pinch if you don’t have the time or space to unbundle everything. Just be sure to give those boxed beauties a little extra love!

Can Hardwood Flooring Acclimate in the Box

What is Acclimation and Why It’s Important? 

Wood is a natural material, it’s susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity. When you bring new hardwood flooring into your home, it’s likely coming from a controlled environment with different moisture levels. Leaving it sealed in boxes traps that moisture, creating an imbalance when it finally reaches your living space.

Here’s the science behind it: wood naturally absorbs or releases moisture depending on the surrounding environment. If the air is dry, the wood will lose moisture, causing it to shrink. Conversely, in a humid environment, the wood absorbs moisture and expands. This constant fluctuation in moisture content can wreak havoc on your flooring.

Acclimation allows the wood planks to adjust to the temperature and humidity of your home gradually. This minimizes expansion and contraction, ensuring your floors remain stable and beautiful for years to come.

Procedure for Acclimating Hardwood Flooring in the Box 

While leaving hardwood planks bundled in boxes to acclimate is not the recommended approach, some homeowners may attempt this method out of convenience or necessity. If taking this route, following the proper steps is crucial to allow for at least some exposure and humidity adjustment before installation. The procedure requires carefully stacking and staging the boxes to maximize airflow to the contained wood flooring.

Step 1 – Prepare the Room for Acclimating Hardwood 

Identify a suitable room or area in your home where you’ll be installing the new hardwood floors. Make sure the space is climate-controlled and maintained at the same temperature and humidity levels you expect after installation. For better results – 

  • Maintain normal living temperature between 60-80°F (15-27° Celsius)
  • Humidity levels should be 30-50% for solid hardwood

Before bringing the boxes, make sure these two parameters are maintained for at least 5 days

Step 2 – Open the Box Ends

After preparing the room, it’s time to move the boxes there. While leaving the hardwood planks bundled together, open up the ends of each box or package. Plus, you will need to remove the plastic sheets there as well!

This allows some airflow to reach the wood while still providing some containment. Be careful not to damage the planks completely.

Step 3 – Cross Stack All the Boxes and Stagger them 

Instead of stacking the boxes directly on top of each other, create a cross-stacking pattern. Position the first row of boxes parallel, then stack the next row perpendicular across them. Repeat this crisscross pattern, staggering the open box ends to maximize air exposure.

Step 4 – Left the Boxes for at Least 3 Days 

Most manufacturers recommend a minimum acclimation period of 3-5 days when the wood is properly unbundled. Since the planks are still partly contained in this box method, you’ll want to leave them for at least 3 days, possibly up to a week depending on your home’s environment.

Pro tip: invest in a moisture meter. This handy tool allows you to measure the moisture content of both the subfloor (the base beneath your new flooring) and the hardwood planks themselves. Ideally, the moisture content of both should be within 2% of each other for optimal installation.

What’s the Proper Way to Acclimate Hardwood Flooring? 

While the in-box method can work in a pinch, it’s not the ideal approach. Most experts strongly recommend fully unbundling the wooden planks and stacking them individually with spacers in between each row. This complete exposure allows the wood to acclimate evenly on all sides.

This method offers faster and more even acclimation.

Air circulation around all sides allows the wood to adjust to the environment quicker compared to sealed boxes where only the edges are exposed. Unpacking reduces the chance of moisture variations within the stack, leading to a more consistent acclimation process throughout the planks

The standard protocol is:

  1. Remove all packaging and stack planks flat across the room, at least 4 inches from the walls.
  2. Use 1/4-inch spacers between each row to create air gaps.
  3. Let planks acclimate for the manufacturer’s suggested timeframe, typically 5-14 days.
  4. Use a wood moisture meter to verify the planks are within 4% moisture content of your home’s air.

Properly acclimating prevents excessive expansion, contraction, cupping or crowning of the boards once installed. The extra preparation pays off with beautiful, stable hardwood floors.

End Notes

Acclimating hardwood flooring is an essential yet frequently overlooked step in the installation process. While the temptation to skip unbundling and just leave the planks in their boxes may be strong, this approach carries risks. Improper acclimation can cause dimensional changes in the wood once installed, leading to unsightly and structurally concerning issues. So, if you are willing to do acclimation then follow the guidelines properly! If you have any further queries then let me know in the comment box below.