Does Vinyl Flooring Need to Acclimate? For How Long?

As a general rule, just about all flooring should be acclimated before installation, but some types actually do not require much — if any — acclimation time.

It all depends on the exact type of vinyl flooring you’re installing and the expected stability of both temperature and humidity in the room you’re installing it in.

vinyl flooring acclimation

In this guide you’ll learn:

  • What can go wrong if you don’t acclimate your vinyl flooring
  • How long various types of vinyl flooring need to acclimate for
  • Best practices for acclimation of vinyl flooring

Does Vinyl Flooring Need to Acclimate?

Yes, most vinyl flooring (according to just about all manufacturers) needs to acclimate usually for between 1 and 3 days.

There are some types — such as Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) flooring — that you can probably get away with minimal acclimation since that type of vinyl flooring expands/contracts minimally.

But, why risk it? You want your floors to last as long as possible and waiting 2 or 3 days after receiving it and installing it can potentially mean the difference between a floor that lasts you many years or one that starts to buckle long before its usable lifespan.

If you are already having issues, read up on How to Fix Vinyl Plank Floor Buckling and Bulging.

What is Acclimation and Why is it Important?

Acclimation is the process of allowing flooring materials to adjust to the environment in which it’s going to live particularly the humidity and temperature. This reduces the risk of deformities, buckling, shrinkage, and gaps developing between planks.

To put it more simply: Acclimation is when you let floor pieces get used to the air and warmth where they will be put in, so they don’t expand, get smaller, or leave spaces between them.

How Does Acclimation Affect Flooring Materials?

Proper acclimation will allow the flooring to adapt and resize itself (ever so slightly) based on your room.

It prevents issues such as warping, peeling, and adhesive failure, ensuring that the flooring performs better and lasts longer.

What 4 Factors Affect Vinyl Flooring Acclimation?

  1. Temperature: Room temperature should be between 59-80 degrees Fahrenheit during acclimation to ensure proper expansion and contraction.
  2. Humidity: Humidity levels should be between 35-75% during acclimation to prevent excessive expansion or contraction of the vinyl flooring.
  3. Subfloor Conditions: Subfloor conditions, such as moisture and levelness, can impact the acclimation process and should be dealt with before installation. The lower the moisture and the more level the floor, the better.
  4. Storage and Transportation: Vinyl flooring should be stored and delivered in a climate-controlled environment (if possible) to prevent damage and ensure proper acclimation. But regardless – transportation is one more reason to acclimate to your room. It’s likely the room’s environment doesn’t match the truck, warehouse, or showroom your flooring was stored in.

What Happens if You Don’t Let Vinyl Flooring Acclimate?

Skipping acclimation can lead to a number of issues, including expansion and contraction problems that could cause gaps between planks or tiles, buckling, or warping.

Expansion and Contraction Issues

Without adequate acclimation, vinyl flooring may expand or contract to the point that you might end up with gaps to buckling floors that will need to be repaired or removed entirely.

Gaps between Planks or Tiles

Improper acclimation can result in gaps between planks or tiles which can be just plain ugly.

Buckling or Warping

Vinyl flooring that hasn’t been acclimated can buckle or warp, leading to an uneven and potentially unsafe surface.

Adhesive Failure

Failure to acclimate can cause adhesive to fail, resulting in loose or shifting tiles and planks.

Loose or Shifting Tiles

Improperly acclimated flooring may not adhere correctly, causing tiles to become loose or shift over time.

Potential Costs of Repair or Replacement

Failure to acclimate vinyl flooring can result in costly repairs or replacements.

How Long Should Vinyl Flooring Acclimate?

Vinyl flooring should generally acclimate for at least 48 hours, although some materials may require up to 72 hours, depending on the specific product and environmental conditions.

Always take a look at the manufacturer’s guidelines for acclimation to ensure proper installation and warranty coverage. The guidelines from the manufacturers will generally be conservative (i.e. longer) than is absolutely necessary, but, again, why risk it?

Acclimation time depends not only on the type of vinyl flooring you’re installing but on the manufacturer, so I can’t give exact figures for the below.

(ALWAYS check with the manufacturer’s recommendations first!)

One interesting thing to note about Stone Plastic Composite (SPC): Jeff from Home Renovision did an experiment on SPC in particular showing that you really don’t need to worry that much (if at all) about acclimating SPC Vinyl Flooring

vinyl flooring recommended acclimation time

How Do You Acclimate Vinyl Flooring?

Acclimating vinyl flooring involves proper storage, handling, monitoring temperature and humidity, preparing the subfloor, and adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Store it in the room you are installing it in

Store vinyl flooring in a climate-controlled environment in the room it will be installed in or a room with a similar environment, away from direct sunlight or extreme temperatures, to prevent damage and ensure proper acclimation.

Stack material – out of the box (preferably)

Stack vinyl flooring materials horizontally and evenly, allowing for air circulation around the planks or tiles during the acclimation process.

Avoid Direct Sunlight or Extreme Temperatures

Keep vinyl flooring away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures to prevent warping, discoloration, or other damage during acclimation.

Monitor Temperature and Humidity and Keep it Consistent

Monitor the temperature and humidity levels in the room where the vinyl flooring will be installed and try to maintain conditions during acclimation and installation that are similar to the conditions you will have year-round.

Use a hygrometer (to monitor the humidity) and thermostat to accurately measure temperature levels during the acclimation process.

Prepare the Subfloor

Prepare the subfloor by ensuring it’s clean, dry, and level — addressing any moisture issues BEFORE installing the vinyl flooring. This is key.

Follow the Manufacturer’s Guidelines

Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for acclimation times and installation techniques to ensure proper installation and warranty coverage.

Adjust installation techniques based on the specific vinyl flooring product and environmental conditions, following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Can Vinyl Flooring Acclimate in the Garage?

Only if you’re installing vinyl flooring in your garage! Since it’s likely you’re NOT going to be installing it in the garage, it is NOT recommended to acclimate vinyl flooring in the garage, since temperature and humidity levels may not be consistent with those of the installation area, potentially leading to issues after installation.

As a general rule, your flooring should be acclimated in the room in which it is going to be installed – or, if that’s not available — in a room that has comparable humidity, sun exposure, and temperature to the installation location.

Do You Have to Take Vinyl Flooring Out of the Box to Acclimate It?

It depends on the manufacturer. You have to check your manufacturer’s instructions. In general, it will likely be best to acclimate your flooring at least with the box open or even out of the box, allowing for better air circulation and more even acclimation to the room’s temperature and humidity levels.

After all, your flooring won’t be sitting in a box after it’s installed. The name of the game is to approximate as closely as possible the conditions in which your floor will exist so usually you’ll want to take it out of the box or at least open the box.

Picture of Tom Powell

Tom Powell

Over the last 7 years, I’ve done a bit of everything when it comes to maintaining and repairing my 110-year-old house. Installed vinyl plank and vinyl peel and stick flooring, resurfaced and stained wooden porch, leveled and installed tiling on a concrete floor, resurfaced our kitchen cabinets… It never ends, but it feels great when you finish a project yourself and end up with a beautiful new (or repaired) floor.

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Picture of Tom Powell

Tom Powell

Over the last 7 years, I’ve done a bit of everything when it comes to maintaining and repairing my 110-year-old house. Installed vinyl plank and vinyl peel and stick flooring, resurfaced and stained wooden porch, leveled and installed tiling on a concrete floor, resurfaced our kitchen cabinets… It never ends, but it feels great when you finish a project yourself and end up with a beautiful new (or repaired) floor.

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