Did you know that a great option for flooring in a cold climate is engineered hardwood flooring? Why, you ask? Well, this type of flooring provides a more modern look to your home, and it’s also a great option for homes in cold environments that have a heat radiating system.
Engineered hardwood flooring is a good option for colder environments because it doesn’t expand and contract the way traditional hardwood flooring would. This means it will last longer, look better, and feel better beneath your tootsies.
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 extremely cold temperatures as well. If you live in or plan on moving to a colder climate region, be prepared to examine these flooring choices.
Want to know if engineered hardwood flooring is best for your home? Let’s find out!
As you may already know, cork is a green option for flooring. It is comfortable and feels cushy under your feet, making it a good alternative to carpeting. The structure looks like a honeycomb, so it absorbs vibrations and sound. It is also sturdy, making it perfect for wearing heavy boots and having a family or furry friends. This makes it perfect for cold climates where you may need to wear steel tips, or you drag in a lot of snow, rain, and moisture with you.
There are a ton of options when it comes to cork flooring, including natural finishes, non-slip surfaces, and more. This is a great option for areas that may get wet, like bathrooms, kitchens, and entryways. All in all, it’s a truly versatile option that you’re sure to love.
Ahhh, linoleum! Unfortunately, linoleum has had a bad reputation for years, but it has come a long way. It’s considered an eco-friendly option because it’s made from natural materials. It is great for people who spend a lot of time inside because it causes no known health issues, lasts a long time, and even has bactericidal properties. It’s practical for colder climates because it is easy to clean, and the liquid you drag in from snow and ice won’t impact the finish.
Even better, linoleum is easy to clean as well, making it perfect for people who tend to track dirt into their homes and those who have pets.
One of the best flooring options for a colder climate is StoneCore hardwood flooring. This stone core not only makes the floor stronger (which we’ve already covered makes it better for those clunky boots), but it makes the wood flooring waterproof, which is perfect for stormy winter weather, as well as spills.
Stone core tiles and planks are more likely to deal with changing humidity and temperatures that you may face as well. Cold climates are hard to build homes in because we have to worry about the temperatures and the varying levels of moisture.
The great thing about stone core flooring is that there are a bunch of different options and finishes, like white oak, Acacia, and so many more.
Carpet is a nice choice for winter flooring as it has minimal expansion and contraction and serves as a nice temperature barrier. The main downside with installing hardwood flooring in a cold climate home is that when temperatures drop, the wood contracts, leaving 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
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, water-resistant, stylish, and has insulating properties.
Vinyl floors are engineered to look like wood but don't expand and contract as oak or maple would. The plank design is installed in a floating manner, rather than with glue, so it can move with temperature changes, unlike a vinyl sheet with adhesive 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
Ceramic or porcelain tiles aren't very good conductors of heat and are very fragile in extreme cold so they wouldn't be a very good option in a cabin that isn't heated year-round. Granite and stone tile floors, 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.
Things to Think About
Whenever you are picking flooring, regardless of where you live, you need to think about your lifestyle and what will work for you. Not all flooring options are best for every family.
You may want to think about:
Your job is important because it will dictate what you drag into your home. Do you work in an office space where your shoes won’t get dirty, or are you working on a construction site? Do you work remotely? The answers to these questions may eliminate certain options like carpet.
Your family has to love the home they live in, so you absolutely need to think about their needs. If you have kids, you may want something that is a little stronger and can withstand everything that kids bring. If you have pets, that’s something else to consider when you choose your flooring.
Do you want to vacuum regularly, or would you prefer to mop? Cleaning your home is important, especially if you have allergies, so you need to consider your options here as well.
Obviously, it would be silly to put carpeting in your kitchen or bathroom. You need to think about the practicality of the flooring before you think about anything else.
Your Interior Design
Of course, you want to think about the design of your home and what your furniture and other choices look like. Having a sleek, modern look to everything else and then installing carpeting might feel a bit disjointed.
While you may live in a cold climate, what kind of cold climate is it? Do you have bitterly cold winter months with dry air that goes right through you, or do you have snowy and icy weather where humidity levels get a bit higher? Or do you have cold winters and warmer summers? Depending how extreme temperatures get where you live, this may be something to think about.
Of course, your budget is going to come into consideration here as well. If you are outfitting one room, it might not be as important, but if you are redecorating an entire floor of your home, your budget is going to matter quite a bit.
If you are going to install your flooring by yourself, you want to ensure that it’s easy to do. Flooring is important, and anything that’s been installed incorrectly can lead to safety problems.
The Good News: You Have Options
When you live in a colder climate, you want the inside of your home to feel cozy, comfortable, and like an oasis from the cold. There are a lot of ways you can do that, and one of the best ways is through your flooring choice. When you put a little bit of extra thought into your flooring, you can get that oh-so-cozy feeling that you’re shooting for.
Remember, to stay comfy and warm in colder weather; carpeting doesn’t have to be your only option. There are plenty of ways to make hardwood flooring, laminate floors, and tile work for you, your family, and your home.
Picking the Perfect Floor | This Old House
A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing Flooring | The Spruce