January 2015


Homes built in a predominately colder climate must make some sacrifices or alterations to ensure their functionality isn't compromised. For instance every single air gap should be filled in, double paned windows are recommended, and even backup heating plans should be explored. One thing that many homeowners might not be aware of is that a home's flooring is affected by extreme cold temperatures as well. If you live in or plan on moving to a colder climate region be prepared to examine these flooring choices.


Carpet is a nice choice for winter flooring as it has minimal expansion and contraction and serves as a nice temperature barrier. The main issue with installing hardwood flooring in a cold climate home is that when temperatures drop the wood contracts which can leave large gaps around the edges of walls. Putting the wood too close to the wall when installing to account for the contraction will cause the wood to buckle in the warm weather as it expands. Carpet on the other hand is tacked into place and stretched when installing. The only real downfall to carpet is the fact that it is more susceptible to damage from snow and mud tracked in.


Vinyl plank flooring in a home

Vinyl Plank Flooring

A material that provides all the benefits of carpet but with increased durability is vinyl plank flooring. It is perhaps the best choice for cold climates because it is durable, waterproof, stylish, and has insulating properties. Vinyl plank flooring is engineered to look like wood but doesn't expand and contract as oak or maple would. The plank design is installed in a floating manner so it can move with temperature changes unlike a vinyl sheet that will become brittle and crack in extreme cold. The foam pad underneath the vinyl plank serves as extra insulation and the surface won't be damaged by snow and mud.




Rubber flooring like that found in gyms is an outside the box approach to colder climate flooring. Rubber is most likely used in a cold garage as a barrier against the concrete slab but can also provide the same benefits in a basement. Rubber doesn't grow or shrink noticeably with the temperature changes and for the most part is weather proof.

Slate / Granite Tiles

Tiles such as ceramic or porcelain aren't very good conductors of heat and are very fragile in extreme cold so wouldn't be a very good option in a cabin that isn't heated year round. Granite and stone on the other hand are often used in outdoor flooring and are more durable when used in the home, especially with an underfloor heater installed underneath. Slate and granite tiles can be manufactured to be frost-free and can have an absorption rate of 0-5% but unfortunately are very costly to install. Homeowners have enough to worry about when the temperatures start to submarine but the preservation of the house's flooring doesn't necessarily have to be one of them.

Posted in: Flooring FAQ


For many people there's nothing more relaxing after a stressful day than a calming glass (or three) of red wine. If Calgon can't take you away Merlot sure can. Unfortunately Cabernet Sauvignon on a carpet isn't a very good match but you might also be surprised to learn that red wine spilled on a hardwood floor can also cause damage. Something so enjoyable and calming as a glass of wine doesn't need to induce stress if spilled on a hardwood floor as long as you follow these tips in a timely manner.


red wine spill on a hardwood floor 

Photo Credit: Jason Samson


Blot Up the Wine

When the wine is spilled the damage is done but you now want to do two things – soak up the wine and prevent further damage. The obvious first step is to clean up the wine so it doesn't stain any further but this step requires caution. You'll want to soak up the wine with a wet paper towel but don't wipe it or rub it as this can extend the stain and send it deeper into the wood.


Try and Clean the Area

Once the wine has been soaked up the next step is to try and remove it from the wood. The most available household object that most people will have handy is bleach but there are a few different components that can be tried:

Bleach – diluted bleach will soak the red wine from the wood but may make it lighter while doing so. When pouring the bleach on the wood confine it mostly to the stained area and keep a watchful eye that it doesn't fade the wood too much before wiping it up in 45 minutes to an hour. Bleach is a slightly more risky option and should be a last resort if other cleaning techniques won't budge the stain.

Oil Soap – a trusted oil soap like Murphy's can be mixed with water and scrubbed on the floor surface to hopefully lift the red wine stain.

Baking Soda Paste – baking soda mixed with mineral oil forms a thick paste that can sometimes lift a stain from a hardwood floor. Coat the paste on the stain for about 40 minutes and remove it with a dry cloth.

You can also get more cleaning tips from our blog here. It's important to use proper care when applying these cleaning solutions and if possible spread them to as few adjacent wood floor boards as possible in case they need to be removed.


red wine stain on a hardwood floor
Photo Credit: Phillip Taylor


Sanding and Re-staining

It's possible that none of the cleaning methods will remove the stain so the next approach is up to the homeowner. A red wine stain might not be as noticeable with a darker material like on acacia wood flooring and in other instances a well placed rug or moving a table can cover the mark. Other times it might be necessary to sand off the stain and the surrounding area and trying to bleed the color of the boards together.


Posted in: Flooring FAQ


For the most part installing hardwood flooring is pretty simple. Whether you're laying down tongue and groove planks that lock into each other or nailing down hardwood boards to the floor, as long as the first row is laid evenly the job is really self-explanatory. One thing that even experienced floor layers struggle at times with though is which direction to lay the planks because there are options and suggestions that vary from house to house. 


Recommended: Perpendicular to Floor Joists

One of the big problems seen with hardwood floors, especially longer planks, is the fact that they have a tendency to dip and bow when walked across. This is mostly due to the fact of being installed parallel with the floor joists instead of perpendicular. When the planks are laid perpendicularly they have an extra support below every 16” on center which leaves very little chance of bowing or dipping. We've seen a number of people try and buck this trend because they think the sub-floor underneath offers enough support but the results are usually pretty tacky. Nothing destroys the allure of a hardwood like dipping and bowing. If your basement is is unfinished you'll be able to look up and see which direction the floor joists are going otherwise try and use a stud finder or peel up a portion of the subfloor.


Room with hardwood flooring


Where Does Your Main Entrance Face?

The most important thing you want when laying hardwood planks is the extra support of laying them perpendicular to the floor joists. If you have spacers as extra support in the floor joists the second desired way of laying the planks is based on the main entrance of the home. When walking in the door, planks that run perpendicularly do a better job of creating busy space. Also boards that are laid parallel to the line of sight tend to drift the eyes away from the room instead of focusing upon it.  If your floor joists aren't a factor, go with the main entrance plan of attack. 


In Bedrooms and Separate Rooms    

In smaller rooms or ones separated by doors and transitioned flooring you want to make rooms seem bigger. The way you can accomplish this is by running the hardwood in the same direction of the longest wall. This allows you to do longer installation runs and is optically satisfying.


With Long and Wide Hallways

 If possible, take any hallways into account when deciphering the orientation of the floor direction. Planks that install with the length of the hallway are much easier to install and prevent the choppy look of many small boards in a row perpendicularly.


For Unconventional Rooms or Desired Unique Styling

 Room with diagonal flooring slats

Photo Credit: Allen Harris 

It definitely requires a lot of additional cutting but laying floors diagonally is a way you can add unique styling to a room. With a 45° orientation the boards will still hit floor joists while also creating a more cozy look to a small or boxy room.


If possible, always go with the structurally sound way to install the floor as sagging is a much harder fix than breaking up sight lines with a rug.