Are your floors made for cold weather?

You turn up the thermostat in the winter to keep your house warm & toasty. In the summer, you crank the AC to keep from melting. But did you ever stop to consider how these changes in temperature could affect your wood floors?

Regardless of composition, floors contract with cold and expand with heatand react to temperature and humidity changes within your home. Wood flooring in particular, will lose or absorb moisture as the conditions fluctuate within your home.

In order for your flooring to perform as intended, the temperature and humidity conditions inside of your home should be kept within a particular range according to manufacturers’ specifications. Certainly this range varies between type of flooring (bamboo, laminate, maple, etc.,) installation method and manufacturer.

So what happens if you don’t maintain the right conditions in your home?

Mind the gap

Wood floors are installed with gaps around the edges (covered with baseboards) to allow for some expansion. When it’s humid a floor can expand beyond these expansion gaps.

If there isn’t adequate spacing between the planks to allow for proper expansion, the floors could buckle; once the humidity drops and the floor shrinks back this buckling could cause the boards themselves to split or crack in the centres or at the ends, or both.

To add insult to injury, none of this damage is covered by the flooring warranty. It is your responsibility to make sure you have a stable environment in your home.

Steady as she goes

Dos your home have air conditioning? A humidifier? A dehumidifier? All of these devices could be required to keep your home within the required temperature/humidity ranges as stated in your warranty.

If you’re a snowbird, and leave your home unoccupied for long stints as you go in search of sunshine, avoid turning the heat down too low; you could come home to unhappy wood floors or cracked ceramics. If you go away on a long summer vacation, leave the A/C on. Otherwise, new and rough terrain could be waiting for you when you return.

Climate-friendly alternatives

If you’re not dead-set on wood flooring and are open to some options, here are the best types of flooring for our Canadian climate:


This fired clay tile is frost and water resistant, which prevents the chances of moisture damage. It’s sturdy and lasts long, so aside from occasional maintenance, there isn’t much to worry about. The unglazed variant of ceramic tile also protects against slipping – especially when wet.


This tile is most recommended for cold temperatures. It is the most moisture-resistant type of tile, with an ideal absorption rate of 0.5. per cent which prevents water damage. Because porcelain’s texture is rougher than ceramic, it’s one of the best in high traffic areas for preventing accidents and can even be used for outdoor flooring.


This stone tile is one of the toughest flooring materials around. Slate can handle all types of weather, aesthetically pleasing and as a natural stone product it is very durable. This is why it’s an excellent outdoor flooring option. Indoors, slate tiles retain heat effectively; and if you have an underfloor heater, they can help disperse heat for warmer surroundings.


Granite tiles are undoubtedly durable, with a low moisture absorption rate (making them best for bathrooms), so moisture damage from the cold is minimal.


This simple but classy stone tile is favorued because of its appearance and even in freezing conditions travertine tiles do not crack or turn brittle.

Always check the label to ensure that the tile you are getting is frost-resistant. You should also check the absorption rate; 0.5 per cent or less is the ideal

(Source: Marble & Mosiacs blog)

Thinking of renovating? Need advice on which floor is right for your home? The Merenda team can help update your home and make it appealing to you – and to buyers. Call us today at 416-240-SOLD (7653).