For those who don’t live in a normally humid climate, it’s that time of year again: the time when humidity begins to become an issue for most of us, even those of us who don’t think much about humidity. Living in a humid climate, especially those with year-round humidity can cause massive damage to your floors. Not being prepared can lead to expensive repairs that can be prevented by simply taking a few precautions to help ensure your floors don’t become a victim of humidity. In this article, I’m going to inform you about humidity, which type of flooring you should consider in your home for the climate you live in, and help you decide what flooring will best suit your needs.
Best Flooring for Humid Temps
First off, what exactly is humidity? Humidity is a quantity representing the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere or a gas. When it comes to flooring, humidity can cause several problems you need to be aware of when choosing specific flooring materials. Changes in humidity, that at times can be quite drastic, can lead to solid wood floorboards expanding and contracting, many times causing gaps or unwanted space between floor planks or deformities. If you don’t have the proper underlayment, a layer between a subfloor and a finished floor that facilitates leveling and adhesion, your subfloor may very well become compromised. In this article, we have narrowed down the top types of flooring for humid or volatile climate areas. These types of flooring aren’t only for the most humid areas and should be considered for all areas that will experience humidity at some point during the year. Think of it as a long-term investment in your home due to drastic climate changes that are occurring and becoming worse every year.
Many cities in the United States experience humidity; New Orleans, Jacksonville, Houston, and Orlando are among the cities in the United States with the highest humidity, just to name a few. Whether you love (you’re among the few that do) or hate it, humidity exists, isn’t going anywhere, continues to get worse, and will cause you to think and feel differently about things that wouldn’t normally come to mind. If you haven’t experienced humidity and plan on moving to a city with high humidity, or even seasonal humidity, I urge you to strongly consider the information provided.
As a homeowner, new or old, the humidity will cause you to ask yourself: what type of home energy efficiencies should I consider? Should I simply invest in a dehumidifier? What type of flooring is best for humidity? More specifically, what type of flooring is best suited to my climate? Are there moisture or vapor barriers, any material used for damp proofing, typically a plastic or foil sheet, that resists diffusion of moisture through wall, ceiling and floor assemblies of buildings to prevent interstitial condensation and of packaging, that I should consider?
So let’s get down to the information you need on some of the different types of flooring available to choose from that are best for humidity.
Luxury Vinyl Plank
Whether you live in a humid area or have a room that is prone to moisture (bathrooms and basements should be considered), luxury vinyl flooring is one of the best choices for any climate. It can get expensive, but it’s well worth the investment. Luxury vinyl flooring or LVT is categorized as a resilient flooring material and one of the best floors for humidity. It’s a luxury vinyl product that looks like stone or ceramic tile, complete with gorgeous natural colors and surface texture that feels like the real thing. Some styles are even made to be installed with grout, rather than “snap in” planks. Talk about realistic! Vinyl planks are basically pliable PVC, which means their vulnerability to changes in humidity is slim to none, making expansion and contraction virtually non-existent. Vinyl planks are also a water-resistant flooring material, making them a great choice for kitchens.
If you just insist on having wood floors, then I recommend choosing engineered planks for humidity due to its similarity to LVT. Even though all hardwoods are very durable, since engineered hardwood is pressed wood, it’s even more durable and resistant to scratches and dents. Engineered hardwood is easy to install and some homeowners say it’s easier to clean than solid or engineered hardwood. The layered construction of engineered woods makes them more stable than solid wood, resulting in much less expansion and contraction of the flooring. Engineered Hardwood works best with an environment of 30-60% relative indoor humidity.
First, you need to know that Laminate flooring comes in different Abrasion Classes, also referred to as “AC.” If you plan on installing Laminate in a climate area with high humidity make sure that your AC classification is high pressure. High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) is rated best for high humidity and climate areas, such as the cities I listed earlier. This high-pressure classification simply put means that the laminate floor was made with a special glue that decreases, or reduces, moisture absorption. This is what makes Laminate flooring an ideal choice for those who live in these high humidity climates. However, you shouldn’t assume that Laminate flooring is designed only for these types of climates; Laminate flooring will do very well in other climates as well and is the least expensive of these options.
Porcelain tile is another good hard-surface choice for humid climates. It’s water-resistant, easy to clean, and durable. If not properly installed, however, it can lead to cracking. The thing to remember with all tile installations, especially one in a humid climate, is to seal the grout. Grout, a mortar or paste for filling crevices, especially the gaps between a wall or floor tiles, is a porous substance; a grout sealer will help strengthen its resistance to water. If you live in a humid region, where escaping the heat is a necessity, porcelain tile has the bonus of aiding in keeping rooms cool.
As you can see, there are several types of flooring you should consider when choosing which one will best suit your climate. This summer, you should be able to kick back and relax without having to fear the horrid effects of humidity.