One of the most common pieces of advice you’ll hear from experts when it comes to decking is that the decking boards need time to acclimate. But how much time is enough time? It seems that opinions vary widely on that point. That’s because there are a whole host of different factors to consider when making this important decision. Listed below are some points you’ll want to think about before choosing how long to let your decking acclimate before installation.
1. Check the Calendar
What time of year will your deck installation take place? If your decking order arrives in the winter, the wood will be more stable than if it arrives during the warmer months of the year. That’s because there’s not as much moisture in the air at this cooler time of year. The amount of acclimation time your decking would need at this time of year will be short to virtually nonexistent. One day of leaving it to sit, covered, before beginning your decking installation should do the trick during the winter.
2. Consider the Fastening Method
Whether you choose to secure your decking boards with a clip system or with deck screws will make a big difference when it comes to how long the decking should take to acclimate.
If you’re going to use clips, the wood is going to end up moving a lot more than if you fasten it down with screws. Clipped boards have a greater tendency to cup. If you’re using clips, cover your boards and leave them near the area where you plan to install them for at least a week or two before beginning your project in order to allow the majority of movement to occur prior to installation.
If you’re going to screw your decking boards down, there’s no need to wait that long. Just do your homework based on the species of wood you’re using to know how much spacing to leave between boards, and you can begin your installation with decking screws right away.
3. Consider the Finish
Whether or not you order pre-finished decking or you plan to add finish to it yourself will make a difference when it comes to the length of time it will need to acclimate. Since the finishing process adds moisture to decking boards, it will need extra acclimation time after finishing before installation. In the long run, however, the finish should significantly cut down on the movement of your decking.
4. Consider Location and Distance
Are you purchasing the decking in your local area or is it going to travel a long distance to reach your job site? Is there an area on the job site where the wood can be protected from direct sunlight while still properly ventilated during the acclimation process? If your decking is coming from a long distance, you should leave it covered on the job site for at least a week before starting your installation.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’ve waited long enough for your decking to adequately acclimate, it won’t hurt for you to let it sit a while longer. Just keep it covered and well ventilated until you’re ready to install it. Though putting off your installation project requires patience, the impressive, lasting results are well worth the wait.