Whether for glass or conventional roof sunrooms, there are few limits when selecting sunroom flooring. The choices are as wide open and varied as selecting flooring for your home. Wood, tile, slate, cork, laminates, and carpeting are all in the running with each having its own pros and cons.
Wood is particularly popular-and for many reasons. It is warm, pleasing to walk on, easy to clean, and with occasional refinishing, will probably last well over 100 years. And because it is so permanent, and relatively costly, there is a need to choose carefully. Options include natural wood such as oak, maple, walnut, and birch, and engineered wood. There is also an expanding selection of laminates which, although not wood, are providing buyers with a product similar in appearance and at a much lower price.
Elegant, warm, soft, and beautiful-these are just a few of the adjectives associated with wood flooring. Installation is fairly simple. Tongue and groove boards, usually 2 1/4 inches wide, are nailed with screw nails that are concealed in the edges. These floors are first sanded and then usually finished with standard polyurethane. Since natural wood flooring must be nailed to the sub-floor, it is unsuitable for installation directly over concrete. And since wood is sensitive to moisture, which causes expansion and possible buckling, it is not suitable for basements, below grade installations, or finished cement slab construction.
Sanding these floors can be dusty and an annoyance if the dust moves beyond the new addition and throughout the house. To overcome this problem, many homeowners have moved to natural wood flooring with a factory applied finish. The benefits are immediate: no dust, no fumes from the polyurethane, and the new floor is ready for immediate use. An added advantage is that the factory applied aluminum oxide finishes are much tougher than the standard polyurethane applied on-site. According to some sources, you can expect 20 to 25 years from a factory applied finish versus approximately 10 years for an on-site polyurethane finish.
But there is a downside. Because pre-finished wood flooring is not sanded after installation, there can be slight bumps and cracks where the sub-floor is not perfectly level. Also, the finished boards themselves may have slight variations in thickness. To deal with this problem most pre-finished floorboards have bevel edged corners which create a slight “V” groove between each board, giving the floor a distinctly pre-finished look and, as well, a place for dirt to collect.
Engineered wood flooring is essentially a thin wood veneer glued over a plywood base. It is the perfect choice for moist applications where natural wood simply won’t work. A prime example would be a sunroom using a finished cement slab inside a foundation wall in place of a 2 x 10 floor joist platform. Another recommended application would be where the sunroom is sitting on a simple cement slab as is common in California and other southern states. This product comes in a tongue and groove format that must be stapled or glued to the sub-floor. It can also be installed as a floating floor with the planks actually glued to each other and not attached to the sub-floor so as to allow for shifting related to moisture changes.
To the best of our knowledge, all engineered flooring is sold pre-finished with bevelled edges. One major drawback with this product is the limited number of times this wood can be re-sanded. The veneer covering usually ranges from 1/12 of an inch, which cannot be re-sanded, to 1/4 of an inch, which should be able to withstand up to three sandings. As with natural wood, many engineered floors can be buffed and re-coated if the finish is not completely worn, thereby extending its lifespan.
Introduced from Sweden in the 90′s, laminate flooring now enjoys about 10% of the entire residential flooring market. There are reasons for this rapid growth. The product is low cost (as low as $.99 per square ft.) is scratch resistant, and can be easily installed by the home owner. Laminate flooring is actually a photo of wood placed between a fibreboard backing and a clear plastic top surface coating. The end result is a surface that ends up looking reasonably authentic. In fact, with recent improvements, properly installed high quality laminates look very close to the real thing. Unfortunately these floors tend to make a “hollow” sound when walked on, a problem that to some extent can be alleviated with the use of specific sound damping materials.
Quality laminate flooring usually carries a 20, even 25 year guarantee. But unlike natural wood, and to a lesser extent, engineered wood, laminates cannot be refinished-they are only good for one round.
For sunroom buyers who elect to build on piers or posts, laminates have one big advantage over wood. Should the homeowner choose to install in-floor electric or hot water heating, and want a wood look, then laminate flooring is an option. In-floor heating reportedly performs well with laminates but not with the thicker natural and engineered products.
There is very little we can add to the already available information available on ceramic tile. Durable, almost indestructible, easy to clean, available in almost all possible colours and patterns, excellent for spills when watering plants, and easy to install represent the main attributes that have contributed to the wide popularity of this product in sunroom flooring. It can also be low cost with prices actually starting from as low as $2.00 per tile plus installation. Installation does require a second layer of tongue and groove plywood or a similar product to provide a stronger sub-floor to help avoid any movement and cracking of tiles. Since tile is a good conductor of heat, this product works very well when combined with either in-floor electric radiant or hot water heating.