No furnace on – can we still acclimatize flooring?

Q: We plan to install pre-finished maple hardwood in Nov/Dec on the main level of our new home that’s under construction. We’ve installed laminate a number of times, but never hardwood. The flooring will be allowed to acclimatize in the home for 1 week. (should it be left longer than this? We live in S.W. Ontario.)

If we’re not able to have the furnace on (installing before closing) to control the temperature and humidity, will this be detrimental to the longevity of the floor? Should we wait? Do we need to leave an expansion joint of 3/8′ or 1/2′? Staples or Nails- which is better to secure the floor? Our floor will butt up against ceramic tile in two locations that oppose each other. Any suggestions on finishing?

A: At this time of year, having the floor in the house for a week is not really acclimating it if the furnace isn’t on. It could pick up moisture in the cold indoor climate. Then, if it is installed and the furnace is turned on, it will shrink with resulting gaps. I would make sure the home is at living temperatures and all wet trades finished their work. Staples are less expensive than cleat, but I prefer cleats.

How you finish up at the ceramic tile will depend on whether the two surfaces come in at near or exactly the same height. Is the tile edge nice and straight? Is the tile lower? There are speciality strips made for most scenarios or you could make your own if you have a decent table saw. There is also a strip called either a dome or flat cap or T cap which will span over the tile and hardwood to cover the joint. It is meant for use when the 2 surfaces are the same height.