Does Vinyl Plank Flooring Need To Acclimate? What You Need To Know

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If you’re a novice looking to give your floors a facelift with vinyl flooring, you may be planning on simply grabbing your vinyl planks from your cold basement or humid garage and beginning the installation process. 

In both cases, immediately installing your floors that have been stored in extreme temperatures will lead to a host of problems post-installation. Without letting your flooring acclimate first, you may end up with warping and other deformities. 

Read on to learn the importance of acclimating vinyl plank flooring before installation and how to do so, including different types of vinyl flooring and their acclimation needs. I’ll also share some best practices and tips for successful installation, including Zain Idrees, Sales Manager at BBN Flooring’s expert tips.

Key Takeaways

  • Acclimating vinyl plank flooring prior to installation is essential to prevent warping, gaps, buckling and adhesive failure.
  • Different types of vinyl flooring require varying levels of acclimation depending on their composition and structure.
  • Adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines for storage conditions, temperature & humidity monitoring as well as proper tools/techniques are necessary for a successful installation that will extend its lifespan.

What is Acclimation and Why is it Important?

To acclimate your flooring means to let the new flooring adjust to the environment in which it’ll be installed. For example, if you’ll be installing vinyl plank flooring in your basement, you would acclimate the flooring to the basement’s climate.

Every flooring material, including vinyl, responds to changes in temperature and humidity. Acclimating vinyl plank flooring is essential to avoid warping, gaps, and guarantee a successful installation. By allowing the vinyl flooring to adjust to the conditions of your home, you prevent issues that may arise due to fluctuations in humidity levels and temperature.

“No manufacturer in the world will give you a warranty on shrink and expansion, yet 90% of customers don’t have humidifiers or dehumidifiers in their house,” says Zain Idrees, Sales Manager at BBN Flooring. That’s why it’s so important to acclimate your planks and maintain the room’s climate after installation. (More on this below).

Skipping this crucial step in the pre-installation process can lead to deformities, buckling, shrinkage, and gaps appearing between planks.

Preventing Warping and Gaps

When you properly acclimate your plank flooring, you allow it to adjust to the room’s temperature and humidity. This helps prevent warping and gaps after installation and is  especially important when using the floating floor technique.

Inadequate acclimation can lead to various issues in vinyl floor installations, such as:

  • Warping
  • Gaps
  • Buckling in the locking systems
  • Adhesive failure

Acclimating vinyl planks according to manufacturer guidelines is an essential step to ensure a successful installation and maintain the pristine appearance of your new floor.

Ensuring a Smooth Installation

Because vinyl is highly porous, moisture can pass easily through the material. This means the planks will expand or contract depending on the humidity inside your home. If the planks aren’t acclimated properly you might find that some planks have contracted or expanded, leaving you with planks of different sizes—and this can lead to a very frustrating installation process. On the other hand, if your planks are acclimated correctly, they’ll maintain the same humidity level as your home, leading to planks that are uniform in size and easy and smooth to install. 

It’s always a good idea to consult a flooring professional for guidance on acclimating your vinyl flooring and maintaining the appropriate temperature and humidity levels during installation.

Types of Vinyl Flooring and Their Acclimation Needs

Though all types of vinyl require some level of acclimation, you may wonder if vinyl flooring needs a different process depending on the material’s composition and structure.

The answer is all vinyl needs to be acclimated—no exceptions. Different vinyl types don’t have different acclimation requirements, however, you should know which type of vinyl plank flooring you’re dealing with, so you can install it correctly.

Here are three popular types of vinyl flooring: Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP), Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) Vinyl, and Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) Vinyl:

Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP)

Luxury Vinyl Planking (LVP) is a popular type of vinyl flooring that provides a realistic appearance of hardwood or stone, is composed of compressed vinyl layers, and is thicker than traditional sheet vinyl floors. LVP requires acclimation to prevent complications such as warping and gaps.

Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) Vinyl

Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) vinyl has a core composed of limestone, polyvinyl chloride,  and other stabilizer materials. This makes it more rigid, and less prone to moisture absorption than traditional vinyl flooring, as well. Though SPC vinyl is known for its stability, I still recommended to adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines for acclimation time to allow the material to breathe before installing.

Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) Vinyl

Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) Vinyl is a type of luxury vinyl flooring similar to SPC, featuring a waterproof core made of wood-plastic composite material as opposed to stone-plastic composite. If you’re looking for vinyl flooring similar to hardwood, this will be your best bet. 

Acclimation Duration: How Long Should You Wait?

The recommended acclimation duration for vinyl flooring is typically 48-72 hours, but it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. During this time, the flooring materials adjust to the temperature and humidity levels of your home. Up to 72 hours is enough time to ensure the planks have expanded and contracted fully to the size they’ll remain within their installation environment.

Acclimation Best Practices

To acclimate your vinyl flooring properly, there are a few best practices to follow: 

Store Vinyl Flooring in the Right Environment

Store your vinyl flooring in a climate-controlled room to ensure proper acclimation and prevent damage. Maintain temperatures between 65-80°F and keep the environment free of excessive humidity.

Avoid storing your vinyl flooring in a cold environment or locations with extreme temperature fluctuations, as this could lead to permanent damage.

Store the flooring correctly

Storing the vinyl planks in a temperature-controlled environment is important while acclimating, but so is the way they’re stored. Leave the planks in their packaging unopened, so they don’t collect dust and debris. Only open the boxes when it’s time to install them. Lay the boxes flat away from direct sunlight and don’t stack boxes on top of each other. Be sure to monitor the planks regularly to check for warping, bowing, or other damage.

Monitoring Temperature and Humidity

During the acclimation process, monitor the temperature and humidity levels in the room where the vinyl flooring will be installed. Use a hygrometer to measure the relative humidity and a thermometer to measure the temperature.

For rooms with vinyl planks, Idrees recommends a room temperature of 19-21 degrees, and a humidity level of 45-55%.

Following Manufacturer Guidelines

If you’re ever unsure, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for acclimation and installation instructions. For example, while 24-72 hours is usually sufficient for acclimation, some manufacturers might suggest longer acclimation times for their specific vinyl products. 

Tips for Successful Vinyl Flooring Installation

Successful vinyl flooring installation involves several steps after acclimating the flooring, including preparing the subfloor, using the right tools and techniques, and proper post-installation care. 

Preparing the Subfloor

Proper subfloor preparation is the first step to allow for a successful and long-lasting vinyl flooring installation. Begin by leveling the subfloor with a liquid floor leveler like DAP and smoothing it out with a trowel. Ensure the subfloor is clean, dry, and free of any debris, cracks, or holes before laying the vinyl planks.

Taking the time to prepare the subfloor will help ensure a smooth installation process and a professional-looking result in the long run.

Using the Right Tools and Techniques

Some common tools needed include:

  • Utility knife
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight edge
  • Vacuum

In addition, a tapping block and rubber mallet may be necessary, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Adhering to the recommended installation methods, whether it’s click/lock, glue-down, or peel-and-stick.

Post-Installation Care

After installing your vinyl flooring follow proper post-installation care to maintain its integrity and appearance. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Avoid heavy foot traffic for at least 48 hours.
  2. Refrain from placing furniture on the floor for 24 hours.
  3. Clean your floor using a non-abrasive, “no-rinse” floor cleaner.
  4. Sweep or vacuum regularly to remove loose dirt.

By taking care of your new vinyl flooring and following the manufacturer’s guidelines, you can ensure its longevity and enjoy its beauty for years to come.

Acclimating Vinyl Leads to Professional Results

Acclimating vinyl plank flooring is a crucial step in ensuring a successful installation and preventing potential issues like warping, gaps, and adhesive failure. Different types of vinyl flooring have varying acclimation needs, but all require some level of acclimation. Proper acclimation involves storing the flooring in the right environment, monitoring temperature and humidity, and following the manufacturer’s guidelines. By adhering to these best practices and taking the necessary precautions, you can enjoy a beautiful and durable vinyl floor that will last for years.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do vinyl planks need to acclimate?

Vinyl planks need to acclimate for 48-72  hours to ensure they are adjusted to the temperature and humidity of the room.

What happens if you don’t acclimate LVP?

If you don’t acclimate LVP, it may shrink or expand due to changes in temperature, resulting in gaps between the planks and tiles. 

Does vinyl flooring need to acclimate?

Yes, vinyl flooring needs to adapt to its new environment in order to prevent warping, buckling or gapping.

What are some best practices for acclimating vinyl flooring?

To ensure proper acclimation:

  • Store vinyl flooring in a temperature-controlled environment and maintain temperatures between 65-80°F 
  • Monitor temperature and humidity while acclimating
  • Lay boxes flat and keep the flooring in its original packaging 
  • Monitor the planks regularly for damage
  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines

What could happen if I skip the acclimation process?

If you skip the acclimation process, it may result in warping, gaps, buckling, adhesive failure, and expensive repairs or replacements.

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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