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 too. Because of the heat, humidity, and beaches for which Florida is famous, the types of flooring that will work in your Florida home are vastly reduced. So, what makes Florida so different? Its geographical location is special and 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 has a great deal of water also because of the natural and man-made lakes. All this means is that Florida weather is almost always hot and humid. Even though visitors love the heat and the beaches, and us residents enjoy our tropical climate, one of the big drawbacks of that lovely tropical weather is the extreme weather Floridians must also endure. 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 resistant to this weather, and engineered to handle the 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 a once or twice. Despite the slight differences in their make-up, because of the top layer, engineered wood floors look very similar to solid hardwoods. They look elegant, refined and classy, while also adding a great deal of value to a home that must endure Florida’s extreme climate.

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 get shaped. Porcelain is made from white clay, sand and feldspar making it slightly more resistant to water and a harder, more dense tile. While ceramic tiles are made with red, brown, or white clay and are softer but also less expensive. Porcelain tiles can be brittle and harder to cut, but they’re more durable and unfortunately are only made in basic colors and patterns. Whereas with ceramic, they are easier to work with and 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 is 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?

Laminate was made to look like real wood, it was therefore also made to go where real wood would go. Living rooms, hallways, bedrooms if carpet isn’t the choice. But it also used very frequently when finishing a basement, occasionally in bathrooms and even kitchens, because it’s durable, easy to install, easy to clean, and it can be moisture resistant.

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 quite resistant to moisture. This issue though, is that a lot of that resistance depends on how the floor was installed. If your laminate is installed with a proper vapor barrier, underlayment, tight seams, and on a dry, sealed subfloor, it can actually almost be 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, though. It’s made from a special glue to help reduce water moisture absorption. This product would be perfect for a Florida residence, but there aren’t many style options at the moment. Either style of laminate will work better, if installed in a house with an effective HVAC system that can remove moisture in the air efficiently and consistently.

Other Types of Flooring:

These options are not the only ones, just the top two wood options, and the most popular. There are luxury vinyl, carpet, cork and natural stone options as well. So, If you have any questions about what kind of flooring is best for your Florida house, whether it’s a condo or apartment, beach front or inland, new build or renovation, 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.