The right flooring for humid Florida


When I bought my house, it came with two horribly stained, carpeted bedrooms. I am not sure why, but someone else’s stains are way grosser than your own. So, after five months of walking over the crime scene carpet, I decided to tear it out and put down hardwood floors.

Truthfully, I already knew what I wanted. I was just waiting for the flooring in my mind to materialize in a store. The hunt was on for a wood floor in a matte, taupe-ish, chocolate stain that was both beachy and beauteous.

Photo by Michaela Ristaino

Photo by Michaela Ristaino

In preparation for the big decision, I began collecting samples of flooring. I shopped the local big box boys like Home Depot and Lowe’s. I have to admit, they make it easy with their 25-cent wall of samples. I spent a blurry-eyed amount of time trolling flooring websites and ordering bits of wood.

Then I hit up several wood floor specialists, even trotted off to Lumber Liquidators. Truth be told, I have always been more put off by their hostile yellow and black sign than their well-publicized formaldehyde troubles. It was worth the dash. I was surprised to see that they had a decent collection and some impressive pricing.

After a weeklong, wood-lovin’ field trip, I returned home with a shopping bag full of clanking samples that I spread out on the floor like a thick deck of cards.

My favorite sample was a six-inch-wide, solid plank piece of flooring in a luscious mocha brown that I had discovered online. It arrived in a cushy box that’s way nicer than what I keep my jewelry in. Not surprisingly, the cost was pretty steep, but that’s not why I didn’t select it.

While I was out shopping, several of the sales consultants recommended that I should not get a solid hardwood floor. What?!

I learned that it’s common practice to steer Floridians and the other “Whoa, it’s hot down here” climates, away from it. The fear is that hardwood floors retain moisture. If you fling open the sliding doors and let in a blast of humid air, your floors may end up warping into a dreaded wood wave.

Let me be clear, I am a windows-flung-wide-open kind of girl.

So, after several gabs with flooring fanatics, they collectively pointed me to three types of humidity-friendly floors, which are: engineered hardwood, bamboo and laminates.

If you need a crash course of what those are, here you go:

Engineered hardwood is simply wood veneer over plywood, and gives you the feel of real without the warping headaches.

Bamboo is natural flooring that happens to be freakishly strong and now comes in some seriously wonderful finishes.

Then, there are some new laminates that are impressive wood impostors. They are photograph appliques over fiber board. Special thanks to the tech geniuses, they have really rocked a mock-reality.

Let me toss in one more possibility here. You may you want to jump on the faux bois (fake wood) tile trend. It has herculean strength and is water proof, plus many of the designs are so realistic you may find yourself waxing them by mistake.

If your wondering which one I chose, I went with the engineered hardwood because it came in a silvered chocolate-colored stain that I love.

Now, if you are a hardwood-flooring snob, the word on the street is that what makes for a bad hair day also makes for a bad floor day. One word: Humidity.

So keep it simple ...

If you are laying hard wood planks, keep the A/C cranked.

Amy Archer

Amy Archer is owner of Sarasota-based Creating Inspired Design and writes the Barefooted Designer blog. She can be reached by email.
Last modified: January 13, 2016
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