Acclimatising Textile Floor Coverings

Often ignored, this important technical aspect of the installation of textile floor coverings deserves our particular attention.

As experienced producers of Carpets, Carpet Tiles and Matting systems, we make specific recommendations about how our products should be acclimatised, prior to final installation, as do our competitors. These recommendations may vary, subtly, from manufacturer to manufacturer, but they are all intended to achieve the same result - a problem-free installation, and a product that looks and performs, in situ, as the client would like it to look and perform.

Why is there a need to acclimatise?

Because carpets and carpet tiles need time to 'relax' and get used to the environment they are going to be installed in, to recover from the 'stresses' placed on them during manufacture, storage and transportation.

 All textile floor coverings, however dimensionally stable, are subject to tension during the manufacturing process. They are also, often, of a composite construction i.e. comprising several layers of different material, each of which is incorporated to give the product strength, resilience and stability.

Once manufactured, they will be stored (for varying periods), often in frost-protected warehousing, but certainly not at normal room temperature, either as carpet (on a roll), or as carpet tiles (boxed and on pallets). During transportation, they will be, however briefly, more or less subject to whatever the outside temperature is at the time. As a result, if they are installed as soon as they arrive 'on-site', and if the site operational temperature and humidity conditions vary from what the product has been used to, there is a good chance that problems will arise.

What sort of problems? 

It may vary from subtle movement within, or distortion of, the product, or its joints (this may sometimes be rectified by using suitable remedial action)  to more severe distortion, sometimes termed 'thermal-shock' (which may cause permanent and irreversible damage to a product, and completely spoil the aesthetic of an installation).

When to acclimatise?

It's often seen as an inconvenient, impractical or uneconomic proposition but the truth is that to avoid any likelihood of an issue arising, textile floor coverings should always be given an opportunity to acclimatise to their new surroundings. In practice, the most problems arise (in the UK) when the air temperature or humidity levels outside vary significantly from those operational levels that exist in the space the floor covering is going to be fitted in. This occurs usually, but by no means exclusively, in the winter here in the UK.

How do you acclimatise?

Remove the product from its packaging, because often, and particularly in the case of cardboard (which is an effective insulator), that packaging will hinder its ability to acclimatise by slowing down the process.

In the case of carpet, lay out your cut lengths/room sizes loosely, without adhering or stretch fitting, for a period of at least 24 hours.

In the case of carpet tiles, remove the carpet tiles from their boxes and acclimatise them for 48 hours. If the tiles are stacked, please ensure that each stack is only 20 tiles high.

Acclimatisation can only take place if operational conditions exist. If the site conditions are not the same as those that will exist when a room is in use, the installation should not take place. The minimum background temperature during acclimatisation must be 18 deg C or more. Adequate time should be allowed in the installation programme, for textile floor coverings to properly acclimatise, to give your professional installer the best chance of doing a proper job.

Birch Carpets for technical assistance

Please refer to BS5325:1996 for further information on conditioning textile floor coverings, or speak to one of our experienced Technical Sales Consultants who will be happy to advise you further. For contact details ring 0114 243 1230.