From sweltering summers to the deep freeze of winter, North America is a mixed bag of climate conditions. But how does climate affect your flooring, and what should you think about when deciding on new flooring for your home?
Moisture and humidity.
Moisture can be a huge problem for floors of all types! Homes in northern climates, where it is very cold and dry in the winter may see gaps forming in their hardwood flooring as the dry air causes the wood to contract. On the other hand, in highly humid conditions, hardwood floors tend to swell. This can cause buckling and cracking of adjacent boards. Excessive levels of humidity also cause ‘cupping’ or ‘crowning’ where the edges or center of the planks rise above the rest of the wood. Keeping the humidity in your home at the appropriate levels will maintain the moisture levels in your flooring, preventing changes in the wood over time. Woods will adjust to climate pre-installation, these issues typically only happen with drastic humidity changes once the flooring is installed. Keeping a balanced environment once the floors are in is what’s important.
Traditionally, laminate flooring has been affected by moisture as well. Water could seep in around the edges where the planks meet the walls, causing them to expand and warp. However, new technology in laminate flooring systems makes them highly water-resistant, or even water-proof! Fuzion’s waterproof collections are tested to withstand 100 hours with water sitting on them.
Finally, Luxury Vinyl is a great choice for high humidity environments as it is extremely water-resistant. It doesn’t expand or contract and isn’t susceptible to mold. Vinyl is well suited for kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, and laundry rooms.
People living in colder climates often choose flooring that is quick to warm up or can be used in conjunction with in-floor heating. Laminate is an amazing choice for in-floor heating, as it is a cost-effective solution that transfers heat well, but keep in mind, that thicker boards will slow down heat transfer. Almost all of our products can be used with radiant heat systems, not just vinyl.
Other choices for use with in-floor heating include engineered hardwood, and vinyl. Each has its own unique qualities to take into consideration, so talk to your flooring expert for the best choice for your home.
Luxury Vinyl is always a good choice in cold climates. A synthetic material, it doesn’t expand and contract with changes in temperature the way hardwood and laminate do, and it warms up quickly, making it a comfortable selection.
Another important point to consider is how temperature and moisture interact. When cold air meets warm air, moisture forms, creating vapour. This is especially true when installing basement flooring. Your installer has several options for mitigating damage and mold from vapour, including vapour barriers, subfloors, and choosing the right flooring materials. Vinyl or our waterproof laminate is an excellent choice for basements thanks to it’s water resistance.
Getting the most from your flooring?
Now that we know how climate affects flooring, here are some ways to prevent damage and keep floors looking great throughout their lifetime.
- Talk to your supplier and installer about the right product, and the right installation for your climate. Think about where in your home certain products will be installed, taking into consideration how much moisture they will be exposed to, as well as heat and traffic.
- Fuzion always recommends acclimating your products before installation. Hardwoods, and even laminates, should be exposed to the average conditions of your home, the temperature and humidity levels, for 48 to 72 hours before installation. Once the flooring has acclimatized, you can begin the installation.
- Consider a floating floor system. Floating floors help avoid damage from expansion and contraction due to heat and humidity. Not all floors can be floated, so talk to your flooring supplier for the best advice for your home.
- Opt for a vapour barrier in areas prone to moisture build-up. Moisture barriers can be part of your underlay or installed separately to keep moisture from building up below the floor
- Place floor mats near your entrances, especially during wet and cold months, so that water from footwear doesn’t seep around the edges of your flooring causing problems down the road. It will also help prevent dirt and grime from scratching your floors.
Are you thinking about new flooring for your home? Your Fuzion retailer can give you great advice on the type of flooring that will work best for your lifestyle, your climate, and your personal sense of style.