Humidity is a scary thing when it comes to wood flooring and Florida has plenty of it. If you’re a Florida resident that doesn’t mean you must avoid using wood flooring. It just means you will be a little more limited on your options and you’ll have to take some special precautions, especially during installation.
What Types of Wood Flooring can be used in Florida?
There are two main types you are going to want to limit yourself to: solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring. While many homeowners prefer solid hardwood because of its appearance and ability to create a personalized look and feel, engineered is actually your best option when it comes to finding flooring that will best handle the humidity.
Pros of Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood flooring is made from a large variety of woods, so you can find a look that fits your style. You can also buy this flooring unstained, which means you can choose the exact color and finish option that will look best in the room. Solid hardwood also takes on it’s own character over time because of how gracefully it ages and responds to wear and tear.
Aside from virtually unlimited customization, solid hardwood is also the higher quality and longer lasting option because of the fact that it can be refinished and stained over and over for years to come.
Cons of Solid Hardwood Flooring
You have to be extra cautious with this flooring option in Florida because it has a much harder time with humidity than engineered hardwood. If you’re not careful, humidity will cause your solid hardwood to over expand and even rot. Don’t stress too much over the installation as any good Florida flooring professional will have plenty of experience with this type of installation and will know exactly how much gap to leave to account for expansion.
Because of the extra attention these floors need during install, your overall cost after labor is likely going to be higher than engineered hardwood.
Homeowners must prepare for a little extra work as well. After install you will have to use 3-10 topcoats of finish to give the floors extra protection from mold. You will also need to keep a close eye on humidity levels in your home with below 50% being most ideal. Anything above 60% will begin to jeopardize the health of your floors.
Pros of Engineered Hardwood Flooring
This is easily the best wood flooring type for the high-humidity Florida homes. This 30-year-old flooring option gives you the look of real solid hardwood flooring, but also has many other benefits. Most importantly engineered hardwood is specifically designed to better withstand humidity, which makes it a perfect flooring option for Florida.
It is made with a real wood top layer that can be sanded and refinished several times. The lower layers (anywhere from 3-12) are made from various types of woods that are cross-layered, glued and pressed. This process makes the flooring incredibly durable and much harder than regular solid hardwood.
On top of all that, the installation process is much more flexible in Florida homes than solid hardwood. This means it could potentially be a DIY project for a handy homeowner. But at the very least your labor costs will be lower.
Cons of Engineered Hardwood Flooring
The biggest con is the limitations in style and color. Although there are many more options out there today, you lose the ability to have a completely customized floor. This limitation may deter some homeowners seeking that perfect style to compliment their home.
Although engineered hardwood is typically more resilient to wear and tear you have to consider that the amount of times you are able to refinish the floors is significantly less than solid hardwood flooring, because you can’t sand past the top layer.
If you’re looking for a hardwood flooring that will standup best against Florida’s humidity, than engineered hardwood is your best option. You can rest much easier knowing it has been designed specifically to handle Florida’s climate. But if you’re looking for something more customizable, and you’re willing to go the extra mile to protect it, then solid hardwood is for you.