Flooring for Enclosed Unheated Porch in Maine

clagaMay 24, 2012


We purchased a 6 month seasonal home May 1st to October 31st; 1 miles from the ocean in Maine. The 10' x 12' enclosed porch has a 5/4 pressure treated deck floor with approximately 1/8" to 1/4" spacing between the boards over a concrete floor crawl space.

We want to cover the floor to keep out the bugs and make it a place for additional sleeping/family room.

We like the laminate wood look, but are not sure if it can take the temperature ranges, summer to winter.

Really don't like the indoor/outdoor carpet look.

Looking for recommendations. And suggestions on how to put the floor down. Does it need a vapor barrier, etc.?


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I believe that on a laminate floor the manufacturer specs will advise against it. But, if it were my porch, it is exactly what I would use. I would buy a cheaper priced quality laminate like 2nds or b quality that you should be able to locate. Thus you will get a beautiful product for a buck a foot or so that is quality. Install it with plenty of expansion gap on the perimeter. make sure the room does not get high humidity above 55%. I say you will be fine and if it would blow up..you lose 150 bucks on the laminate and sundries. Moisture barrier....I dont believe so as I want the room to breath. My opinion and instincts from many years in the business dealing with issues. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:57PM
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An alternative if you don't mind the existing flooring...

In the crawl space, clean out the joist bays. Vacuum, sweep, whatever. Get rid of the insects/spiders.

Then install window screening across the bottom edges of the joists. That'll prevent insects from getting back into the joist bays and coming up through the gaps in the flooring.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 10:42AM
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Thanks for your inputs, please keep them coming. We are looking make the porch more of a nicer living area. I am leaning towards the laminate route but my wife and I are concerned with it not being able to handle the extreme changes in temperature. Does anyone have a recommended brand of laminate they like? I was also thinking about putting down Tyvek with the print side facing the floor for an additioanal vapor barrier and covering it with 1/4" luan for a smoother surface for the laminate to lay. Any additional thoughts on other prep work I might need to do before I lay the floor.

Thanks again

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 1:02PM
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I'd be concerned with the humidity swings too, not just the temp.

I'm not sure if your intent of installing the Tyvek "printed side down" is to just hide the print, but do understand that Tyvek is not "sided"...it performs equally no matter which side is facing up/down/in/out.

Also, be warned that Tyvek is not a vapor barrier. If memory serves correct, it has a perm rating up around 58. Tyvek will block air infiltration. It will allow moisture vapor to pass through it. When hung vertically, it will shed liquid moisture. Horizontally, if water pools on it, it can saturate and eventually pass liquid water through it.

The logical thing to recommend would be a click and lock floating type of floor. The thing is, with the exposure to repeated extreme variations in temperature and humidity that your flooring could see, the click and lock could actually pull itself apart over time, especially if there is furniture in the room.

Vinyl might be a possibility. But adhesives could fail.

I'd almost want to recommend a narrow-strip (1-1/2" wide), T&G, nail-down flooring.

Narrower strips versus wider planks will result in more seams in the floor, and the more seams you have, the better the floor can absorb seasonal wood movement without shrinkage gaps or expansion buckling.

Choosing a stable wood species will help you even more.

And if you plan on polyurethaning the floor...get ready to grimmace...I'd recommend treating all six sides of the strips prior to installing them. Then more poly after installation.

Not the perfect solution, but the best one that I can come up with.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 3:24PM
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Over thinking it in my opinion. Laminate will work. Allow the room to breathe and do not let the laminate get wet. It will be fine.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 10:52PM
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Thanks everyone. Another question. Would you go with a 6 mil plastic vapor barrier over the existing pressure treated decking already in place? Followed by 1/4" luan sub-flooring, then finished flooring which will be either laminate or a fiber-glass resilent flooring. Will the 6 mil plastic vapor barrier cause more of a problem by capturing moisture between it and the pressure treated decking?


    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 7:24AM
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Wood does not change size or shape with just temperature.

Water content is the driver.

The link below to the Wood Handdbook, Chapter 3 has all the gritty details.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wood Handbook, Chapter 3

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 12:35PM
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Thanks for the input. Knowing the thermal and moisture problems we may face and regardless of the finished product we decide to use. What type of subfloor system might be best equiped to provide a somewhat stable platform to add without causing a place for mold and rot too form.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 2:22PM
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We put laminate from Costco (Harmonics) down in our finished basement and I could not be happier with it.

I just vacuum it with my Dyson and use a slightly damp mop once in while and it looks as good as new.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:50AM
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After much research, we installed loose lay vinyl in our unheated log cabin. While it won't win any awards from the design literati, it's been just perfect for us--inexpensive, simple to install(especially if you can lay it out somewhere and measure and cut with scissors carefully), and has held up perfectly for 3 years.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 6:13PM
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