Choosing the right flooring materials for your home can be challenging. You’ve got to select something that looks good, feels good and will go with the design of your home and furnishings. Add to this challenge the need to pick a material that will hold up against the heat and humidity that most southern states experience and you’ve often got a tough job on your hands.
Extremes in heat and humidity can cause major damage to your floors which lead to expensive repairs, or in some cases, the need to install entirely new flooring. Needless to say, choosing flooring that’s best suited for your climate will increase the durability and longevity of the floors in your home.
In this article we’ll discuss some of the most common flooring options and their ability to hold up against high levels of heat and humidity.
Bamboo Hardwood Floors
Bamboo flooring performs extremely well in temperate climates, but it can also be a chic alternative to hardwood floors in humid states as it holds up better to moisture because of it’s cell structure and native tropical environment. The old “classic” style of bamboo flooring was more of a modern look, but now you can find strand woven bamboo flooring that comes in gorgeous rustic hand-scraped finishes that are suitable for all types of design including classic “Southern style.” Considering it usually costs about half as much as traditional hardwoods, but still provides 100% natural variation in color and grain and a warm feel underfoot, it’s easy to understand why bamboo has become the darling of the design industry.
Traditional Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors are one of the most frequently-installed floors in homes. Their classic warmth and beauty lends charm and character to just about any style and design choice. Like beautiful starlets, however, hardwood floors tend to be temperamental. Hardwood planks will expand and contract in areas of high humidity, and pooling of any liquids can warp and make the wood swell. Direct sunlight, which is a factor in the south, can also leave spots on your beautiful floor. Hardwood floors simply perform better and are easier to maintain in moderate climates that are typically found in mid-Atlantic and northeastern states where indoor humidity levels can be maintained between 35-60%.
Having said that, you can still install hardwood floors if you live in an extreme climate zone like the south, but you should choose engineered hardwood that typically come in multi-ply or 3-ply planks, as these will be more stable.
In general, vinyl floors are a good option for regions that experience excessive heat and humidity, as long as the perimeter is properly sealed with a high-quality silicone caulking compound. These floors come in a range of colors and styles and are a lower cost alternative for those on a budget.
Having said this, it should be noted that vinyl can be extremely slippery when damp and sunlight can also cause the color to fade quickly. If you live in the south where you have more sunny days, it’s a good idea to us UV solar screens on windows or keep the drapes closed during afternoon hours to keep fading to a minimal.
Many people love the look and feel of carpet in their home and it is a flooring option that can perform well in most climates. That being said high humidity can and often does lead to mold, bacteria and fungi growth, both in the carpet itself and in the padding.
A subfloor with moisture barrier, such as cork or foam rubber should be installed and if at all possible, the carpet should be glued down to the subfloor to prevent moisture from getting in between both. It is also recommended in southern states that experience high humidity that a dehumidifier be used.