Wood vs Laminate in beach house

momincAugust 16, 2007

We are fixing up an oceanfront beach house and have to replace the flooring in the kitchen/family room. I am getting conflicting opinions from flooring stores and neighbors about what to put in.

Mostly the disagreement is over moisture. Some say that hardwood will buckle with the high humidity on the ocean. Others say the laminate backing will mildew or buckle from the weather.

I understand that hardwood will be vulnerable to wear from sand, etc. And that laminate cannot be refinished like wood can.

But I am mostly concerned with what will wear best in those conditions.

Any opinions out there?

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solid hardwood flooring is a disaster waiting to happen in high humidity climates and below-grade subfloors/substrates ... some people claim it isnt an issue... these people are either uneducated in the standards, or are very lucky ... the industry standards and practices state differently, and while it might work well for some people, the moment you install it, might be the time it fails. Stear clear of solid hardwood flooring for high humidity areas and below grade slabs.

engineered hardwood flooring has roughly twice the dimensional stability as opposed to solid hardwood flooring in regards to moisture, so it is the most chosen product in the hardwood family for those types of areas for its superb performance. It is the recommended choice as long as the moisture of the surface/area/slab/subfloor it is installed on/in is within the manufacturer isntallation specifications and recommendations.

Laminate flooring might be ok, but you are going to have to pay for it. Not all laminate flooring is the same, so if you go this route, select a high grade option that specifically warrentees it for humid climates and/or wet area usage.

Perform surface/slab/subfloor/area moisture testing regardless of the external climate to ensure the area and substrate/subfloor are within manufacturer isntallation recommendations/specs.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 4:40PM
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Have you considered tile? Either ceramic or vinyl? There are several styles out now that look like wood (in ceramic or vinyl "planks") and either one would wear much better in these conditions. If it's an oceanfront home, sand will be tracked in. Ceramic tile would last a long, long time and not be bothered by wet feet or the sand.

Just a suggestion~good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 8:45PM
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I wouldn't put wood in a beach house. That HAS to be a disaster waiting to happen. Humidity aside, the sand would trash the finish in short order. The most comfy beach houses we've rented have....carpet. A low pile berber style carpet. The sand migrates down and one doesn't feel it. Yes, it's not as durable, but it's relatively inexpensive to replace. I wouldn't use carpet on the ground floor, only on the elevated part (flooding issues.) On the ground floor I would use a vinyl or ceramic product. I would use vinyl because ceramic hurts my back.

If you can't bear to do carpet, look into the high end vinyls (planks and such.)

Just got back from our 20th beach vacation at Sunset Beach, NC...so I have SOME beach house experience!

1 Like    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 9:34PM
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There is a reason, most coastal residences, from people that have lived there all there lives is tile or stone floors.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 12:01AM
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For what it's worth there are some surprising wood look porcelain tiles coming on the market. Unaffected by moisture [if you have a good subfloor], slip resistant when damp, won't scratch, super easy maintenence...

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 12:57AM
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Wow, thanks for replying!

First, the flooring store did advise us that hardwood would buckle (mostly it's the neighbors who dissed the laminate). Also, the flooring store did say they send someone out to do a moisture reading in advance of any installation. So your comments make me feel like the store is pretty knowledgable.

Second, the house is actually elevated on pilings, and we are way above flood zone. The moisture I guess I am most worried about is general humid ocean air.

Third, I love tile and have it here at my primary residence. However, we have decided that it is too hard and possibly slippery for a house where everyone is barefoot. I could put rugs in the family room area, but the kitchen is where everyone will be walking thru and I just think tile will be too hard on the feet.

I really don't think I want carpet, as I know that the sand will get down in there (possibly moist sand) and I know it can never really be as clean as a hard surface. NOT that I am a clean freak by any nature. In fact, since you can't see alot of the dirt/sand on carpet, I am pretty sure I would put off vacuuming way too much and then things would get nastier. Plus a hard surface is better for some of the allergies in the household. We do have carpet on the stairs and some bedrooms.

I have seen some hardwood in magazines, etc that have a distressed finish, and I guess that is the look I would want to go with.

A couple of neighbors with hardwood say the sand isn't too bad, and they just sweep once a day. They have matte finishes on the hardwood. One neighbor did recommend the finished on-site wood, so that you can have it refinished in 5 years, but that seems to be counter to floorman67's recommendation of engineered hardwood.

I have heard that Mannington has a good product for laminate in areas with water. Does anyone know this product?

Thanks for your help and keep it coming!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 3:40PM
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A few engineereds are available to be site finished

Owens Plank
Real Wood Floors

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 8:23PM
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Jasmine Bayliss

We don't have a beach house but have kids who track in sand from the sandbox. Our hardwoods have a satin finish, but it still shows scratches. Our neighbors have the hand-scrapped finish on theirs. Scratches aren't as noticeable, or becomes part of the "distressed finish".

A previous poster mentioned the vinyl planks. This is what we're looking at for other areas of our home. I love the look of hardwood and am impressed with how well some lines, like Mannington Adura, mimic the look of wood with more durability.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 11:00PM
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as perry stated, engineereds can be site finished.

as to thge slippery tile worries, you can purchase anti-skid/slip tile and/or apply anti-skid/slip coatings/sealers.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 11:15PM
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If you like the distressed wood look, I'd suggest taking a look at Karndean luxury vinyl planks, particularly the Art Select Hand Crafted line. The planks are 6x36 and are incredibly good looking and realistic -- I've seen them laid on the floor and literally had to bend down and touch them to believe it was vinyl. I've asked about the product on this forum before, and the floor experts chimed in with very good opinions. Vinyl would be a very good application for your environment. Karndean is definitely a high end product with a corresponding price tag, but you may find the investment would be worth it. I believe it comes with a 25 or 30 year warranty.

Here is a link that might be useful: Karndean Art Select

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 1:43PM
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Tile with area rugs that can be shaken out and cleaned works well in our house by the beach.

Tile without area rugs would most likely be too hard. As to slipperiness, we chose a tile with a lot of texture, a natural looking porcelain. No slipperier than vinyl or hardwood, as far as we can tell.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 3:36PM
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If you do go with wood, I would strongly recommend installing a foot shower outside and mats at all entrances.

I have lived in FL all my life - an outdoor shower (or at least a foot shower) is a necessity! Does wonders to keep the sand/dirt out of the house.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 1:57PM
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I'm not picking a fight, but I don't personally beleive that half an inch of solid wood or engineered flooring provide significant cushioning.

Even if it did, we aren't on our feet all that much in our own homes. Cushy mats in front of the stove and sink, perhaps some rugs in traffic zones would help.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 3:09PM
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Well, I see there is no clear-cut consensus on wood vs laminate!

I do think tile is too hard, and we have ruled that out for the kitchen. I have it at home, and even in the summer I find myself putting on flip-flops when I am cooking, as it is so hard.

We had hardwood in a beach house we rented, and I didn't notice that it got damaged or scratched. Of course, there was tile in the entryway, which probably took the brunt of the sand. I don't think there is a way with our floor plan to mimick that effect.

The Kardean looks intriguing, I will have to check it out in person.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 3:23PM
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I have a very similar question regarding a beach house. In my situation, I need to do something with a screened in porch which faces the water. Unfortunately when I removed the (awful) moldy, indoor-outdoor carpet that was there when I bought the house, we discovered the sub-floor was not the best quality plywood over pier & beam. So, we're faced with thicker new plywood over the old but then what? I like the Karndean product mentioned but should I wait until actually making the porch into a real room with windows rather than screens? Or what can I do right now, because I don't know when that will be? Too many other things to do right now.
Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 11:02PM
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Well, I am still confused. I looked at the Mannington Adura in a store, and it looks pretty good. I don't think my husband will go for it, he doesn't like the repeat you get with laminate and I think this would have the same problem.

Our contractor, who has stellar references, thinks hardwood is the best choice for this lot. It is not below grade, and he says if it is installed properly there should be no problem. He does not like the glued down wood products. It sounds to me like he is "old school" and prefers "real" wood, and the fact that you can refinish it later.

My neighbors have not had problems with hardwood, which is encouraging.

I think we will put carpet in the family room, and just do the wood/laminate/vinyl in the kitchen/dining area, so it's a smaller area to worry about.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 8:44PM
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I second Oofasis recommendation to consider vinyl wood-look planks. Moisture is no problem with properly installed vinyl. High end quality vinyl looks as close or closer to wood then laminates do.

I have Amtico vinyl wood planks in my kitchen and after 4 years there is not a tear or gorge in them, they are very durable. I have also never had a floor that is easier to clean. It is very comfortable under foot. It fools most people.

Of course, as with wood or laminates, you will need to sweep any sand off it regularly.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 5:08PM
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I live 2 blocks from the beach. I have seen Laminate warp here & don't know why but must be the humidity.
I have Ceramic Tile all through the house, and now that is popping up!
My Mom has an older home with Terrazo, & her house has flooded numerous times being Oceanfront. The Terrazzo is still in perfect condition!
It is coming back in style & it is trouble free.
My problem is how bad these surfaces are on your back, knees & all joints. Looking into a surface that is not so hard on your body

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 7:26AM
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