Ask Doug: How Summer Heat Affects Flooring

Ask Doug: How Summer Heat Affects Flooring

Ask Doug: I’m worried about doing home improvements in the summer heat and sunlight – what should I watch out for?

We’ve had some heat out there, haven’t we?

It’s good you asked about how it affects different flooring products because most people don’t think about that. Heat – in the form of constant light, a rise in temperature, and/or humidity — has an effect on just about every form of flooring. We have seen everything from an olefin carpet that melted under the onslaught of a high-temperature hand-held blow dryer to rotted natural wood floors from excess condensation created by humidity.

Here are a few things to think about when working with or living with various types of flooring during the hotter months.

Vinyl Flooring will fade over time if in constant contact with direct sunlight. Experts suggest that you either use it away from direct sun or draw the curtains. Of course, drawing the curtains also lowers your air conditioning bills.

Thermal expansion of subfloors created by excessive heating can cause tile to separate from the bed it has been laid upon, while over-dried subfloors will shrink causing tiles to crack.

Wood floors that have spent years under the constant drying of summer’s heat will eventually splinter and peel.  Also, all wood flooring absorbs or loses moisture as conditions change inside your home, causing shrinking and expansion. Shrinking causes gaps to appear between the boards, and over expansion from too much moisture causes buckling.

Bamboo, as well as engineered wood flooring and laminate use water-soluble glues. Too much humidity will cause these glues to dissolve and the floor will basically decompose.  

My advice is to take care of your floors like any investment, follow all manufacturers’ care instructions to keep them clean and protect. If you nurture your floors, they will last for years to come.