Choosing the Best Hardwood Flooring for a Beach House

Choosing the right hardwood floor for a beach house

Maybe you’re trying to convince some of your prospects or clients that hardwood is the best type of flooring for their beach house.

Your most convincing argument? When they’re in vacation mode, they’ll want low-maintenance flooring. People want to spend time at the beach, not caring for their floors.

Compared to carpet, hardwood floors are much easier to clean, so they make the perfect choice for a summer getaway home.

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However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re planning to install hardwood floors in a beach house.

First of all, the finish won’t be subject to the daily wear-and-tear that it would be in someone’s full-time home. But the kind of damage it may have to withstand can be intense. This includes exposure to the jagged edges of sand and salt, and moisture from salt water.

For the sake of durability, a polyurethane finish is one option. One problem with putting down a urethane finish in a beach house, however, is that oil-modified urethane turns an amber color over time with exposure to direct UV rays.

If the color-changing quality or the VOC content of a urethane finish would be a problem for your clients, opt for a durable waterbased hardwood floor finish like Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey, or a UV-cured finish like Basic Coatings Lightforce.

A third option is a European hardening oil.  This style of penetrating oil will be durable and show scratches less than the typical urethane or film forming finishes.

For added durability, suggest that your clients choose a relatively hard species, especially if they have kids and/or pets.

Because of humidity fluctuations in the summer, it might be best to install engineered flooring. Engineered flooring is less likely than solid flooring to cup or split when the humidity rises.

Besides functionality, design is also important to consider when installing a floor in a beach house.

If your client prefers the look of site-finished, solid hardwood floors to engineered flooring, opt for a dimensionally stable species like American cherry or Douglas fir, and opt for rift and quartersawn cuts. Be aware, however, that certain relatively stable species have a low Janka hardness rating, which can subject the floors to more damage.

If your client’s beach house is in a place where the humidity rises considerably during the summer, you might have to choose stability over hardness. Select quartersawn flooring over plainsawn, as quartersawn is more dimensionally stable.

Unless you’re going to install engineered floors or rift and quartered material, you probably want to stay away from wide planks, which are more susceptible to moisture-related movement than planks that are narrower than 5”.

Once the floors are installed, proper care is essential for keeping up their appearance. Make sure your clients know how to maintain their new beach house flooring.

To make sure that the floors hold up to the humidity, suggest that your clients use a hygrometer like the Wagner TH-200 to monitor the moisture levels in their home. It’s also a good idea to pass along these tips for keeping their floors safe from the summer elements.


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