Home Flooring Guides Why you need to acclimatise luxury vinyl flooring

Why you need to acclimatise luxury vinyl flooring

When it comes to installing brand new luxury vinyl flooring in your home, there are some important steps to ensure that your new floor has the best possible start - and it all begins with good acclimatisation. Acclimatising literally involves allowing time for your LVT to get in tune with its new environment; It’s an important way to be sure that LVT is in optimum condition when the time comes for fitting, ultimately guaranteeing the quality of your new floor. In this guide, we explain why acclimatisation is so important.

4 min read

25th Sep 23

blue and white checkerboard lvt flooring with kitchen utensils

Acclimatising LVT flooring and why it's so important.

So you’ve placed your order and it’s arrived and ready to be installed; before you get too excited and start ripping open the boxes to admire your brand new LVT, you will need to pause and allow time for your brand new dry-back luxury vinyl tile flooring to settle into its new environment.

To understand the need for acclimatisation, it’s firstly important to realise that the flexible nature of LVT products has implications for how they they need be handled, stored and fitted. Flexibility certainly has its advantages – for instance, LVT products are less prone than more fragile products to becoming damaged from being dropped or chipped during the journey from the factory to your home. But on the flip side, this flexibility also means that LVT products, before they are fitted, are more likely to be subtly shifting their shape in response to the stimuli around them, when compared with these more rigid products. Acclimatisation is designed to accommodate this shape-shifting by allowing time for the planks and tiles to settle and straighten out, and for temperatures to settle, ensuring that the tiles are in perfect shape when it comes to fitting. And once the tiles are fitted and securely fixed to the floor, the tiles are completely immovable, there’s no more problematical bending, expanding or contracting!

You may ask why changes in the temperature and stability of LVT can affect the fitting? And the answer is quite simple – a tile that is moving (e.g. expanding due to rising room temperature) cannot bond properly with the adhesive. In fact, any movements in the tile while the adhesive is still drying can cause it to lift up out of the adhesive and potentially ruin your new floor before you’ve even started!

So the process of acclimatisation and temperature control is designed to allow all the movement in a plank or tile to occur before it is actually laid, and ensuring it remains motionless right through until the adhesive has fully set.

How does LVT acclimatisation work?

To understand the acclimatisation process a little better, it’s helpful to understand the reasons a tile might want to ‘move’ in the first place, and there are in fact two possible causes, known as the two ‘T’s of acclimatisation, namely movement from temperature and movement from tension within the tile.

1. Temperature – As with all materials, individual planks or tiles in a carton of LVT will be constantly adjusting their size in response to changes in temperature around them. The acclimatisation process involves placing the cartons in small piles around the room for 48 hours, to allow sufficient time for the loose tiles within the cartons to adjust their temperature to the room environment, at which point they will be static, and only then will they be ready to be laid into the adhesive.

But it is also important that the room temperature remains stable, so that no further expansion or contraction is triggered in the tiles – in particular, while small slow changes in temperature are unlikely to cause problems, big and rapid changes can cause larger and quicker movements in the tile, which have the potential to disrupt the adhesive bond. This means that temperature stability has to be maintained for the full 72 hours after fitting until the adhesive has dried, at which point the LVT will be permanently fixed to the floor.

2. Tension – The other cause of movement that needs to be avoided comes from the result of tension within the tile. LVT products have an in-built memory, meaning that when the are twisted or bent, an energy, or tension, is created within the tile, which, when released, causes the tile to move back to its original shape.

This is a useful feature as it means if a pack of tiles is mishandled during its journey to your home, unlike a stone or ceramic tile, they are unlikely to break or shatter. Instead, the inherent flexibility means the knocks are absorbed as the tiles become temporarily bent or misshapen – and it’s the resulting build up on tension that ultimately causes the tiles to slowly revert back to their original condition.

So the 48 hour acclimatisation period, where the tiles are placed flat in the room where they are to be fitted allows time for tensions from any small distortions to work their way out of the tile while it slowly regains its original shape. This movement will usually be slow and mostly indetectable, similar to the way memory foam slowly regains its shape over a period of time.

Giving your luxury vinyl tiles time for acclimatisation will allow it to adapt to room conditions and save you problems, and money, in the future and so is definitely not a step to be overlooked.

What happens if you don't allow time for LVT floors to acclimatise?

The risk of not acclimatising your luxury vinyl flooring properly is that after the tiles have been laid into the adhesive, they will start to move which affects the adhesive bond before it has time to fully set, causing gaps to appear between the tiles or the tiles to lift up along their edges which is not the look you’re after.

In summary, acclimatisation is a process designed to manage the LVT and to prevent fitting problems, in three key ways:

  • Allowing time for the tiles to adjust to the temperature of the room where they’ll be fitted thereby avoiding contraction / expansion of the tile during the fitting process.
  • Allowing any misshapen tiles to release any tension and settle back to their original shape prior to fitting.
  • Maintaining a stable environment for 48 hours before fitting, during fitting and for the 72 hours until the adhesive has fully dried.

How to acclimatise LVT flooring

Here are our top tips on how to acclimatise your luxury vinyl flooring before installation:

1. Firstly, once the flooring has been delivered, remove it from its outer packaging/ pallet and make sure it’s stored flat indoors, in dry conditions.

2. Two days prior to fitting, ensure the room where the tiles will be fitted is at its everyday temperature; we recommend anywhere between 18-27°C, and ideally at around 22°C and ensure that this can be maintained constant for 5 days/ nights.

3. Place the packs in the temperature controlled room in small piles on the dry floor for 48 hours before installation is due to take place. It’s important they are kept out of direct sunlight and away from any cold or hot spots.

Begin installing the tiles ensuring the room conditions remain constant during fitting and for 72 hours after until the adhesive has cured and the tiles are permanently fixed in place.

Remember that if you are worried or not confident in fitting luxury vinyl flooring yourself, a professional and experienced LVT fitter to make sure you get the best results possible. For more information on how to lay luxury vinyl flooring, you can read our handy guide below.

How to lay LVT flooring

Read full guide
harvey maria how to fit luxury vinyl flooring