Discomfort due to high humidity levels is a common complaint in many areas of the nation. In some regions, high humidity is uncomfortable, yet seasonal and usually occurs only in the hottest part of the summer months. For those who live in places like New Orleans, Seattle or Orlando, where humidity is a year-long comfort issue, it can affect both personal comfort and the building materials used in homes, such as flooring.
Why Humidity is a Problem for Flooring
When humid, moisture-laden air is present in the home on a daily basis; it can cause wooden floorboards to expand and contract, which can result in widening gaps between boards or even unsightly buckling. Also, moisture from the humid air can collect underneath some types of flooring and create conditions that encourage harmful mold growth.
What Types of Flooring Works Best in Humid Climates
The best flooring for humid climates are those that are resistant to moisture, such as:
• Porcelain tile - because it has a highly glazed finish, porcelain tile can resist penetration and damage by exposure to moisture-laden air or water (remember, however, to make sure that quality grout sealer is applied to the grout to prevent it from being damaged by humidity)
• Engineered Woods - this flooring option uses layered construction techniques that make it more stable and less apt to expand or contract than solid wood flooring
• Vinyl - with their ability to resist moisture, both vinyl flooring, and vinyl tile flooring are well suited for installation in homes where humidity is an issue.
Flooring Options for Humid Basements
In addition to humidity in certain climates, any home that has limited air flow can have a moisture problem. This is especially problematic for homes with basements, where moisture levels can build and cause damage to flooring. If your basement has high humidity, the use of high-pressure laminate, engineered woods, painted concrete or vinyl are also excellent flooring choices for your home.