Today Needy in New York writes:

I’m trying to figure out what type of floor to put in my summer home.  I live in NY state and there is not heat in the house in the winter.  I was looking at the Brazilian cherry jatoba natural in the click lock style.  Would this be ok?… Do I need to use underlayment or Rosin paper?…  are the seams glued or does it stay without it? It is a floating floor, right?  What is the difference between a click floor and an engineered floor? Please Help!!! Needy in New York

I would NOT suggest putting wood flooring into a house that doesn’t have heat during the winter.  Some companies don’t even warranty flooring if the conditions drop below 60 degrees.  If you do go with the Brazilian cherry jatoba flooring, I’d definitely stay away from a solid hardwood. A click-lock or engineered wood flooring might have less problems because of the installation method and construction of the flooring itself.

The difference between a click-floor and an engineered floor is in the construction and installation method.  A click-floor is a floating floor and the edges of the plank interlock, then click together.  It doesn’t require nailing, stapling or glue of any kind, because it floats on top of a foam or rubber pad.  Click-floor wood flooring has a layer of wood veneer on the top and then one thicker layer of either MDF or plywood followed by another really thin backing material made of either plywood or MDF.

Brazilian Cherry Jatoba Flooring

An engineered floor also starts out with a veneer of wood on the top level.  Then it has layers of plywood going in different directions to increase the strength of the board.  Typically there are three or more layers of opposing grain plywood.  The edges of the flooring are tongue and groove but do not lock together.  Because of this the flooring either has to be stapled or glued down.  If the flooring is being stapled then a Rosin or tar paper must be used as well. Some engineered wood floors can be glued on just the tongue and groove and then be floated on a foam or rubber pad.

While I think a click-floor or engineered floor would do better than a solid hardwood, keep in mind the conditions may still be too harsh for the flooring.  During the winter when the temperature drops below freezing, the gaps in between the planks will be much larger and could potentially damage the flooring.  This could harm both the engineered and the click-lock flooring.  Installing a floating floor would help minimize the amount of damage done during the expand/contract stages.  But the joints themselves whether of a glued engineered or a click lock may suffer over time causing the boards to warp or come apart.

Have you considered going with a good quality porcelain or stone tile instead?  Before discounting this, because it is a completely different style, hear me out. The advantage of porcelain or stone in this particular situation is that the extreme temperatures will not cause a problem to the flooring itself when installed properly.  Porcelain tile does well in freeze/thaw situations but the grout will require a little more upkeep.

If you don’t care for the idea of tile, then the only other thing I can suggest that may fare better than wood flooring but still look like wood flooring, is a laminate floor.  Not just any laminate flooring will work, you need to look for a high pressure laminate (HPL) or plastic laminate.  This is still not guaranteed for a no heat environment but because of its layered construction it may fare better than regular laminates and wood flooring.

That said the only flooring that would for sure work in a no heat environment is porcelain or natural stone tile.  Nothing else is guaranteed to work.  So if you do choose to go with the beautiful Brazilian cherry jatoba flooring, please keep in mind that it is a great risk. You’ve been cautioned and advised. Good luck!

Do you have questions about the selecting or the installation of: tile, carpet or wall treatments (window blinds, etc)? Then email me your tale of woe (diva(at)homemakeoverdiva.com) and perhaps I will be able to answer your questions right here at the Home Makeover Diva Blog!

Written by Amanda Hartley