Best Floors For Humid Climates
Living in an area with a humid climate should factor into the type of flooring you choose.
When it comes to selecting home construction products, humidity isn’t in the forefront of a homeowner’s mind. But living in an area with a humid climate should factor into the type of flooring you choose. A high volume of moisture in the air can cause floor boards to expand and contract, making them buckle or opening gaps. Humidity can also amplify allergen levels in carpeting by fostering dust mites and cause an uptick in airborne mold. As you may expect, areas such as New Orleans and Jacksonville have the most humid climates in the U.S. However, northern areas such as Rochester, N.Y., Portland, Oregon, and even Seattle are ranked among the Top 10 cities. All of these places have an average humidity level 72 percent. Humidity is not just a factor to consider in warm weather regions when selecting the best flooring for your home or building. It affects areas all over the country.
Vinyl Planks vs. Laminate
One of the common decisions people make are between these two products. Vinyl planks are generally comprised of 100 percent plastic. That means they are resistant to the effects of not only moisture, but direct water. Laminate is comprised almost entirely of wood materials. Because laminate flooring interlocks, it tends to be a better fit in a humid climate than many solid wood floor materials, but it won’t take a lot of direct water hitting it. However, High Pressure Laminate has an excellent rating for high humidity areas. Both have a lovely appearance and tolerance to humidity, but vinyl has an edge over laminate because it can handle heavy moisture, especially in bathrooms.
It goes without saying that porcelain tile is virtually impervious to moisture and water. The trick to a winning look in a region with a humid climate is the doing a good job with the grout. That needs to be sealed tight. The drawback of porcelain tile isn’t the material, it’s the subfloor. The flooring rests on a wood subfloor that can expand and contract and cause problems for the tile, such as cracking grout.
Engineered Wood Products
Engineered wood is a type of manufactured board that binds wood parts into a single product. It’s sometimes called composite board. These tend to suffer less expansion and contraction than solid wood boards and are relatively inexpensive. However, it’s recommended that they are installed in areas that average below 60 percent humidity.
Selecting products that hold up well in an area with a humid climate can mean the difference between a pristine floor and one with visible faults. It’s always advisable to take moisture into account when installing a new floor and seek the advice of a flooring professional.