The Best Flooring Options for Florida Homes

The Best Flooring Options for Florida Homes

Choosing flooring for your house is a challenging task. There are several factors, such as style, price, availability, and climate that make it one of the most important and difficult design decisions you’ll make. If you happen to live in Florida, that decision just got a lot more difficult. Because of the heat, humidity, and beaches Florida is famous for, the types of flooring that will work in your Florida home are vastly reduced.

So, what makes Florida so different? The extreme climate is why most traditional flooring just won’t cut it in the sunshine state.

What Makes Florida’s Flooring Needs Unique?

The majority of Florida is considered to be subtropical, while its southern regions experience tropical climates. The state is surrounded by water on three sides and the interior parts of the state have a great deal of water. Basically, Florida weather is almost always hot and humid.

Even though visitors love the heat and the beaches, and us residents enjoy our tropical climate, there’s one major drawback – extreme weather. Florida has the highest amount of thunderstorm days per year at 80+. Additionally, tornadoes and hurricanes touchdown regularly.

Those weather systems and the frequency at which they exist in Florida, significantly impact construction, housing, and flooring. Therefore, building materials in Florida must be engineered to handle extreme weather systems. If you’re changing your floors or putting floors down in a new build, what should you choose, what should you avoid, and why?

The Best Wood Flooring in Florida: Engineered Wood

What is engineered wood?

Engineered hardwood floors are manufactured boards made up of several different recycled layers of wood. Typically, each board has five to seven layers, which are compressed and glued together creating a stronger and more moisture resistant board. The top layer is made of a more durable type of wood, –oak, maple, hickory– that will hold up to wear and tear and can even be sanded.

Because of the top layer, engineered wood floors look very similar to solid hardwoods. This gives Floridians a chance to have elegant, refined and classy flooring, while also adding a great deal of value to a home that must endure Florida’s extreme climate.

Installing hardwood in your home can also result in up to 80% ROI reflected in the value of your home. This makes hardwood valuable in more ways than one for Florida homeowners.

American Journey Maple Natural CL5500
American Journey Maple Natural CL5500

Where is engineered wood best used?

Originally, engineered wood floors were developed for use where solid hardwoods could not be installed. On the first floor of a home built on a concrete slab or in a basement or over radiant flooring systems. But engineered wood flooring tech has grown tremendously over the last 15 years, and the products can be used just about anywhere, including places where you would expect to find plank floors, and sometimes even kitchens.

American Experience Hickory Graphite CL5203
American Experience Hickory Graphite CL5203

Why does engineered wood work great in Florida?

What makes engineered hardwoods a good choice for Florida residences is that they’re specifically designed to resist moisture and extreme temperatures, the two biggest problems you’ll face when choosing flooring. They won’t expand and contrast like a solid hardwood, which means they won’t buckle or crack during a typical Florida summer. They’re relatively easy to install, and they come in a large variety of styles. That is why an engineered wood floor is so highly recommended for a Florida environment.

The Most Popular Florida Flooring: Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

What is ceramic and porcelain flooring?

Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are man-made clay tiles that are constructed by being fired at a very high temperature to reduce the water content of the clay and allow it to be shaped.

Porcelain is made from white clay, sand, and feldspar making it slightly more resistant to water. This makes it a harder, more dense tile. While this makes porcelain more durable than other tiles, it can make it brittle and harder to cut. Unfortunately, porcelain comes in limited colors and styles.

Ceramic tiles are made with red, brown, or white clay. This tile is softer, easier to work with, and less expensive than porcelain. Ceramic tile come in hundreds of new and classic styles.

Sonoma Sky
Sonoma Sky 20″x 20″

Where is ceramic and porcelain tile best used?

Tile is very water resistant, which is why it is historically used in kitchens, restrooms, laundry rooms, and other humid or messy spaces. In Florida, tile can be found throughout the entire home. There’s a wide variety of styles and colors and finishes; tile can be used on concrete slabs, in bedrooms, basements or on upper levels and terraces. There’s even a type of tile that’s designed to look like a wood plank – if you want the look of wood and the practicality of tile.

Fitch Rainbow 20″x 20″
Fitch Rainbow 20″x 20″

Why are tile and porcelain so popular in Florida?

Tile flooring repels water exceptionally well. When water or condensation hits ceramic or porcelain tile, instead of soaking into it, the water just beads up. This means that these floors will absorb next to no moisture, even on days with the highest humidity, or where water is frequently found.

Second Best Option: Laminate Flooring

What is laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring is a synthetic material, made mostly from melamine resin and fiberboard, constructed to imitate the look of natural wood with a top “wear” layer that makes it very durable. Laminates used to look as if they were made of plastic because the materials were cheap and the process was unrefined. However, today laminate is a great flooring option, as it remains inexpensive, durable and much more advanced than when it was first introduced into the market.

Elements Saratoga Pine
Elements Saratoga Pine

Where is laminate flooring best used?

As Laminate was created to look like real wood, it was therefore also made to go where real wood would go. You can expect to find laminate flooring in:

  • Living rooms
  • Hallways
  • Bedrooms
  • Finished basements
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens

Because it’s durable, easy to install, easy to clean, and often moisture resistant, this flooring is a go-to for Florida home flooring.

Kaindl Herringbone Oak Fortress Rochesta
Kaindl Herringbone Oak Fortress Rochesta

Why is laminate flooring great for Florida homes?

There is a bit of a debate here. Because of the laminating and compressing process by which this product is made, it can be quite resistant to moisture. The issue though, is that a lot of that resistance depends on how the floor is installed.

If your laminate is installed with a proper vapor barrier, underlayment, tight seams, and on a dry, sealed subfloor, it can actually be nearly waterproof.

However, because it is a floating floor there is a gap between the subfloor and the laminate, and moisture can get trapped there, especially if you live in a high moisture climate. If the floor was not installed properly, that moisture coming from the ground and building up below the laminate can leak out through the seams of the floor and the bottom layers of the floor can swell, ruining the floor.
There is a new, high-pressure laminate that was developed for high humidity climates.. It’s made from a special glue to help reduce water moisture absorption. This product would be perfect for a Florida residence.

Tip: Laminate works best in homes with an effective HVAC system that can remove moisture in the air efficiently and consistently.

Will Flooring Types Affects the Temperature in My Home?

It’s not surprising that summer heat is a problem for Floridians. AC units get turned down, blinds are shut, and when the electric bills come in you cringe.

But, tile flooring can actually help you cut back on the heat in your home. By not retaining heat, tiles flooring stays cool. As you walk on it your feet stay cool and in turn, you don’t feel as warm. The result? Your AC unit gets a break.

Laminate flooring is also known to not hold onto heat. Hardwood, on the other hand, is a mixture of both, holding warmth in the cooler months and staying cooler during hotter months.

What Maintenance is Needed to Care for these Floor Types?

Your new flooring will come with maintenance requirements. Whether it’s mopping or refinishing, maintenance will be dependant on the type of floors installed in your home.

Engineered Wood is cared for as you would hardwood flooring.

  • Use only a damp cloth or mop to clean, only using cleaners specified for engineered wood
  • Practice daily dusting and sweeping to avoid buildup
  • Avoid scratches in your flooring by keeping pads under furniture and pets nails trimmed
  • Wipe up spills immediately to prevent staining
  • Close your blinds to avoid direct sunlight damaging the wood

Porcelain or Ceramic Tile doesn’t require any intensive maintenance if cared for properly.

  • Avoid using abrasive cleaners to prevent damage
  • Sweep, mop, and vacuum every few days, if not daily
  • Use vinegar and baking soda solutions to cut through grime
  • Apply sealer yearly if unglazed porcelain

Laminate Flooring shouldn’t be exposed to large amounts of water when cleaning to avoid buckling in the flooring.

  • Avoid use of steam mops, wet mops, and polishing or buffering treatments
  • Use cleaners made specifically for laminate floor care
  • Remove sticky substances by hardening with ice then cleaning with a plastic scraper, taking care not to press too hard

How Long Can I Expect these Flooring Types to Last in Florida?

New flooring is an investment that will steer your interior design choices and cleaning habits for years to come. But how many years exactly? It all depends on the type of flooring you have installed. Keep in mind that all estimates are based on proper care and maintenance of your flooring.

  • Engineered Wood – 20 to 100 Years
  • Porcelain or Ceramic Tile – 20 to 50 Years
  • Laminate Flooring – 15 to 25 Years

Other Types of Flooring:

These options are not the only ones, but the top-recommended for Florida homes. Other flooring options include:

If you have any questions about what kind of flooring is best for your Florida house, whether it’s a condo or apartment, beachfront or inland, new build or renovation, contact us. We’ve been supplying flooring in Florida for decades and our expert staff will help you choose exactly the right product to fit your design and location.

Considering a floor replacement?
Contact us for a free estimate.

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