Hardwood Floors in Florida - Engineered Vs Solid
Having been in this business since the early nineties, I’ve seen practically every scenario when it comes to hardwood floors in Florida.
The Old Schoolers Don’t Like Engineered Floors
I put myself into this category until thicker engineered floors became available. Prior to the 2004 period or thereabouts, the same boring rotary peeled type floors were all over. Rotary peel has an appearance that almost mimics a finished plywood plank floor. Well, not exactly, but the graining is very consistent, unlike a traditional solid ¾ inch hardwood.
Sure there were manufacturers offering a more realistic look. Names included Kahrs and Harris. They were also two of the original manufacturers of floating type floors, but they too had appearances that over time turned many off. Namely fillet or three strip products (shown) that looked similar to laminate floors.
But. I Want A Solid Hardwood! It's The Real Thing
I don’t blame you, but allow me a few minutes of your time to discover ¾ inch engineered hardwoods. Our ¾ inch engineered surpasses everyone in the industry with a meaty 5.2 mm wear layer; also called the veneer.
Solid Hardwoods Can Work In Florida, but…
Back in the early 90’s when I started in the business, I was involved with many jobs on the Southwest Florida coast islands that included Sanibel, Captiva and Marco Island. The typical residential home was elevated on pier and beam with a plywood sub floor. It was also a time when traditional strip flooring (2 ¼” wide) was still popular. As years passed wider planks were being used more often.
Solid Wider Planks. Problems Start.
The problems with wider solid plank hardwoods in Florida have much todo with what’s under the actual installed floor. Moisture is the enemy. With our humid climate, moisture finds it’s way into the new floor as there’s no climate control below with many stilt type homes.
I’ve heard comments from experienced builders and the like. Or those that have not installed a wider plank hardwood in this scenario. “There’s good air flow, so it should not be a problem.” That may be the case sometimes, but how about the evenings when the dew point rises. Plain and simple it’s moisture that rises. The rainy season, same situation.
Details About The Problems
I’ve also been approached about sealing up the underside. Folks, moisture will creep it’s way into anything. Many of us know this by living here for decades. Then some seem assured the moisture barrier put down before the floor is installed will keep moisture out.
But It's Too Humid
That’s the excuse many use, but looked at closely, it’s not an issue. For the most part Florida residents use air conditioning 7-8 months out of the year. Modern air conditioning removes moisture from the air or maintains a comfortable balance in relative humidity (RH). However, it is important the right system be used that allows for it.
When cooler months arrive exterior relative humidity levels are not as high as they are in the hotter muggy months. Windows are opened. The results are lower relative humidity levels both indoors and out. Essentially Florida may actually have more stable interior RH levels than other areas that do not use central air conditioning.
More About Humidity
Over the years I’ve heard numerous horror stories about hardwood floors in Florida with all of them referring to solid or floating floors. Yes, engineered floating floors can expand considerably with excessive higher humidity levels; particularly those that are glued together or the stuff that is made up of fiber board backing.
My home fell in the direct path of Irma after it veered away from the lower Keys. Power was off for 14 days in early September 2017. Humidity levels were maxed out at 90-100% as localized standing water contributed to the sweltering conditions. Once it was all said and done, the glue down engineered floor installed in 2007 saw no ill effects.
High Quality Engineered Floors
That’s where Uptown Floors comes in. I spent a lot of time in developing a product line that satisfies all the concerns and questions many have when it comes to engineered floors in Florida.
See the cost and benefit analysis with engineered on concrete along with the false assumption felt paper under wood floors works as a moisture barrier.
Unfinished Engineered Floors
The typical consumer doesn’t know they exist. I saw my first in 1994 while doing a job in the Pelican Bay area of Naples. Why was it selected? It was a matter of keeping the overall vertical height of the floor at a minimum instead of using a dated system of plywood attached to concrete and then solid 3/4 inch unfinished hardwood on top of that.
Engineered White Oak Character Stained 7 ¼" - West Palm Beach, FL
Engineered Walnut Character Stained 6 ¼" - Ocala, Florida
The product above was manufactured by Hartco is no longer in production. Overall thickness was 1/2 of an inch with a reasonable top wear layer, or one that could be refinished again. Another reason for the selection was a custom stain color.
Essentially the procedure called for gluing down the engineered hardwood on concrete and allowing a few days for the glue bond to reach a maximum grip for lack of a better term. It was then sanded the traditional way, stained and finally finished.