Choosing the right flooring can feel like a headache. The wrong materials could lead to unexpected problems. Before making a decision, consider which materials work best in your climate.
Porcelain, Ceramic, and Stone Tile
Tile is suitable in almost any climate, but homes in colder regions might want to install heating underneath. That cool touch is a great in hot climates, including desert, humid, or tropical areas. Most tiles are water resistant and stand up to years of abuse, so you can mop to your heart’s content. While tile can last for many years, movement of the substrate can damage it in areas prone to earthquakes.
Linoleum & Vinyl
People often use the words vinyl and linoleum interchangeably, but they’re different materials. Vinyl is synthetic, but linoleum is a natural product made from ground cork and linseed oil. There are various, high-quality vinyl flooring options to realistically reproduce wood and stone patterns. The color is solid throughout, so it doesn’t show damage as easily. While they’re suitable in any climate, they can feel a bit cold underfoot. Both vinyl and linoleum are available in tiles and sheets. They also clean easily with a damp mop.
Carpet is soft and cushy and adds insulation and comfort in colder climates. Available in rolls and tiles, fuzzy and short fibers, there’s something for practically any living environment where water isn’t present. Basements and other rooms with persistent damp conditions can lead to problems with mold and mildew because the fibers and padding retain moisture. Everyday cleaning requires vacuuming, but stains are harder to deal with. Steam cleaning and spot treatments are necessary.
Newer high quality laminates have come a long way. Realistic wood texture embossed into their coating makes them practically indistinguishable from real hardwood. However, the edges of laminates swell in excessively damp conditions. Once the damage is done, the panel needs to be replaced. Only mop with a barely-damp mop.
Damp or dry conditions can be an issue for hardwood in some situations. Excessively dry conditions can dry out the wood, but high-quality sealers help to resist cracks. Dampness causes wood to swell and buckle the floor. Use a dehumidifier to regulate the humidity and help the floor stay put. Hardwoods feel cool under your feet, good in warm climates. They can be good in colder areas too. Ask a reputable flooring contractor to recommend varieties that work with radiant heat.
Engineered hardwood resists swelling and shrinking and is a good option for all climates.