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Climate–Friendly Flooring

 

Quick Climate Checklist
  • Does your floor need humidity control?
  • Should you install a vapor barrier?
  • Will direct sunlight damage your floor?
  • Does your floor need to be "acclimated"?
  • Do you know the PEI rating for your tile?

As you shop for flooring for your home, it's important to consider the climate where you live. Factors such as temperature and humidity play a key role in overall floor performance. While laminate, hardwood and bamboo can acclimate (adjust) naturally to their surroundings, they're not recommended for certain environments. It's important that you choose flooring that suits not only your furnishings but also the natural climate conditions of your living space.

Climate Friendly Floor Products

Climate Conditions

Weather Station: Reads
Climate Conditions

Climate conditions vary from home to home. Even two homes on the same street could have dramatic differences when it comes to indoor climate. For example, one home sitting on constantly wet soil (due to runoff) could have a higher indoor humidity level than a home just a few doors down that's built on dry soil. Also, the level in your home where your new flooring will be located ("above grade," "on grade," or "below grade" – grade = ground level) should also be taken into consideration. The floor level plays a significant role in terms of indoor heat, cold and humidity.

No matter where you make your home, you can have climate–friendly flooring that is long–lasting and beautiful. Select a climate–friendly floor and you'll worry less about it buckling, swelling or cracking due to extreme conditions. Not only can these defects make your floor unattractive, they can lead to mold growth and structural damage that can be very expensive to repair.

Humidity

Barometer: Measures Changes in
Barometric Pressure

When you're searching for climate–friendly flooring, the main factors to keep in mind is humidity. Extremes changes in humidity can cause floor planks to shrink or swell, possibly resulting in serious floor damage.

In our Climate–Friendly Flooring Types section you can use our humidity map to learn about the humidity where you live and how you can prevent wet conditions from damaging your floors. In this section you can also discover the relationship between water and wood materials and how this could affect your hardwood, cork and even bamboo floors.

Below Grade, On Grade and Above Grade

Grade Levels: The Levels on a home
and their relative position to ground level.

It's important to understand the difference between below grade, on grade and above grade, and the effects of these levels on certain floor types. Below grade means below ground level, on grade means at ground level, and above grade means above ground level.

Typically, indoor humidity levels tend to be higher in rooms built below grade. For this reason, many cork, bamboo and hardwood types (and other floors highly susceptible to moisture damage) are not generally recommended for basement installation. No matter what kind of floor you decide to purchase, the grade your flooring will be on should always be considered.

Other Climate Factors

Sun: Use Shades or Blinds to Block
Its Harmful Rays.

Some floor types such as cork, hardwood, bamboo and vinyl have a tendency to change color when exposed to direct sunlight. To make sure all floor areas stay even in tone and color, regularly rearrange your furniture. Alternatively, you may want to consider putting up solar screens or hanging drapes to help block out the sun's harmful rays. Sunlight can also make concrete flooring dry too quickly during installation, which will affect its strength and its ability to resist cracking.

How Do I Decide?

Choosing flooring that's appropriate for your environment and caring for it properly can result in floors that last longer and stay beautiful for years. Begin by jotting down how each of the above factors relate to the area where you will be installing your new floor. Next, refer to our Climate–Friendly Flooring Types list of the most common floor types and determine which flooring best suits your particular climate.

Climate–Damaged Floors

Read our Climate Friendly Flooring FAQs on climate–damaged hardwood floors to learn how you can repair floors that have already been affected by extremes in humidity and climate.

Climate Flooring Information | Help
  • Types – Choosing the right flooring type for your climate.
  • Care – Learn how the climate can affect the care and maintenance of your floors.
  • Eco-Friendly – Want to go green and fit your environment? Let us help you find the best floors for you.
  • FAQs – Get your basic questions about choosing climate–friednly flooring answered here.
  • Flooring Buying Guides – Use our buyers guides to help you purchase your flooring.
  • Flooring Installation Guides – Let us guide you through installing your own flooring.
  • Flooring Estimator Tool – Calculate how much flooring your project requires.