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How to Store Hardwood Floors: 9 Things You Need to Know

How to Store Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are one of the best investments you can make for your home. However, it isn’t easy to estimate the exact date you will install your floorings or even get them shipped at the right time. You can also have leftovers from your installation that you can use later.

Whichever is the case, you can store hardwood floors indefinitely in perfect shape as long as you maintain a few key things. This article will teach you how to store hardwood floors the correct way. Keep reading.

How to Store Hardwood Floor Correctly

There are many situations where you might need to store hardwood floors for a few weeks or even a couple of years. Regardless, you need to know how to store hardwood floors correctly, so you don’t damage them before they are even unboxed.

Hardwood is very sensitive to moisture and humidity. The temperature in which it is stored also impacts its health. Maintaining optimal temperature and humidity is crucial to store hardwood. You also need to pay attention to the placement and packaging.

Here are a few quick tips on how to store hardwood floors properly:

  • Only unload the hardwood floors when the conditions are good
  • Store the hardwood in a climate-controlled, fully-dried space
  • Keep the relative humidity level between 30%-50%
  • The ambient temperature of the room should be between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 17 to 25 degrees Celsius
  • Store the flooring in their original boxes
  • Make sure the room is well-ventilated and above grade level
  • Always store the wood flooring flat on the ground with a slight elevation
  • Remember to rotate the stock and use up the older hardwood first
  • Always acclimatize to the room where you will install the flooring

Unload in good conditions only

Avoid loading and unloading hardwood floors if the weather is wet due to rain or snow. Only unload and load when the conditions are ideal, and you have the space prepared for storage. Water can damage wood in different ways — and worse, it can develop cracks as it dries. However, if the hardwood gets wet, you must dry it to prevent mold or mildew growth.

Enclosed space

Humidity and temperature fluctuation can crack or warp hardwood floors as they shrink and expand with climate changes — and to control the climate, you need a properly enclosed space. The space should have a secure roof and weatherproof windows. You also want to avoid spaces where you get direct sunlight. While you can leave your hardwood planks out in the shade or the garage for a few days before installation, you must prevent exposure to elements to save them from irreparable damage. 

Climate control and circulation

The space where you store your hardwood floor needs to be climate controlled. Hardwood floors cannot handle fluctuations in humidity and temperature. The climate outside fluctuates from day to day or even between daytime and nighttime. The floors expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity which will cause havoc when you acclimate your floor to the room where you will install it. Also, ensure the area is well-ventilated to prevent humidity build-up and condensation.

Grade level

Grade level is another key point to remember when storing hardwood floors. A space below grade levels, such as a basement or garage or any room with at least one of the walls covered by ground, will have excessive moisture. Although you can tackle that by using a dehumidifier, storing hardwood floors below grade level is still not recommended if you have other options available.

Humidity control

Moisture is the biggest concern for storing hardwood floors for the short term or for a long time. Too little and too high moisture is damaging to the hardwood. So, you must maintain the ideal humidity level for hardwood floors to avoid permanently damaging them. Depending on your climate, you may need to use a humidifier or a dehumidifier to maintain indoor humidity levels. Keep the stacks of flooring covered in the plastic frame in which they come in to protect them from moisture damage.

What is the best humidity level for hardwood floors?

The recommended humidity level for hardwood floors is between 30%-50% within a temperature range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher or lower humidity can degrade the appearance and quality of the hardwood floor, as wood is sensitive to moisture.

Placement and packaging

Leave the hardwood floor in its original packaging for storage. Always lay the planks flat on the floor — never leaning against a wall. Avoid stacking as much as possible, as the bottommost planks will be under constant pressure from the weight of the top ones and can get warped over time. Also, rather than placing the flooring directly on the concrete, elevate them using a 2×4 or something similar to prevent condensation from reaching the materials. You should also elevate the flooring material if you have underfloor heating systems.

Stock rotation

If you are storing a large amount of hardwood that you will use at different times, rotate the stock for the best results. Organize the stock by the date you brought it in, and use up your oldest stock first. Remember, newly manufactured flooring contains excess moisture and shrinks as it acclimates. Never store new hardwood on top of old ones, as the moisture from the new ones can damage the old stock.

Acclimating before installation

Wooden floors need to acclimatize to their surroundings before installation. It allows the wood to adapt to the atmosphere as it shrinks or expands to get accustomed to the humidity level and temperature. In the past, it was standard to acclimatize solid hardwood floors for at least a week.

However, modern hardwood is often kiln-dried — meaning it is ready to install immediately. But keep in mind if you are storing your hardwood floor for a long time before installing, you need to acclimatize even the ready-to-install hardwoods. It might delay your project by a few days, but it’s not worth the risk to rush through this step only to see movements and gaps in the planks afterward.

Is there anything we have not addressed about how to store hardwood floors? Comment below and let us know!

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