What type of flooring do you recommend for a beach house to prevent scratching from sand and warping from dampness?


You posed a very good question. Beach houses are unique in their flooring requirements. You have multiple conditions to consider: sand being tracked in, excessive moisture in the air, and possible ground moisture from below. The fact that you’ve ruled out stone or ceramic is interesting, because either one of those choices would actually have been a great solution. Before you rule out porcelain or ceramic all together, did you know that new tile designs include leather-simulated looks, and even some wood parquet looks? Unglazed tiles offer slip resistance as well. Care and maintenance of a porcelain floor for a beach home would be minimal, and that would be a huge plus.

But here are some other options to consider: Historically speaking, real hardwood floors have not been ideal for beach climates because the moisture in the air can cause excessive expansion of the wood. Expansion and contraction of hardwood floors can result in warping and splitting–never a good thing. However Shaw Industries has a line of hardwood floors called “Epic” that have been engineered to overcome extreme climate conditions. It is a tightly milled product line that has a 5-ply, cross-core construction. This gives the product excellent stability. It’s important to note that only oak is used in the core (for its exceptional hardness), as the core is compressed under extreme heat to produce the stability you are looking for. That process should eliminate entirely the problem of expansion and contraction. If you are environmentally conscious, an added benefit is that Epic hardwoods take half as many freshly cut tress to produce. Look for a wood within this line that has an aluminum oxide top coating to guard against scratching, and always place walk-off mats at each entrance to the house to capture as much dirt and sand as possible. Choosing a lighter toned wood with a low sheen will do well against sun-fade.

One more alternative: laminate floors give the look of real hardwood, but are much more family-friendly. If you like the look of wood for your home, this may be the solution for you. You need to be sure that you choose a laminate that has a moisture resistant core (your local flooring retailer can help guide you) so that it is dimensionally stable. Laminate needs to be installed as a floating floor, with a moisture barrier material beneath, to protect it from ground moisture seeping up. With minimal care, laminate floors will look good for many years to come AND they have superior stain and fade resistance. I hope this helps.

Annette Callari, ASID; CMG

Posted Friday, July 17th, 2009 at 11:36 am
Filed Under Category: Hardwood Flooring, Laminate Flooring, Reader Questions
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Responses to “Reader Question – Beach House Flooring”


In my recent trip to Destin, Florida, we stayed at a beach condo that had a rustic ceramic tile in the public areas in baths and had a durable, short pile commercial carpet in the bedrooms. I thought the flooring for this unit was very smart, especially in the carpet because the commercial carpet’s short pile would make removal of sand easy, and it’s commercial rated – durable.

madelyne cobain

for this kind of house i recommend a resistant Ceramic Tile..because the floors there it will be med and full of sand sometimes…


I found a really effective green cleaner that I thought I might share


YOu can try looking at Quick-Step brand of laminate floors. They have an awesome array of wood looks as well as tile looks ranging from ceramic, slate, and concrete. The retailer we used said they are one of the best in quality as well. Their website is

Hope you find what you need!


There are a couple other options as well. How about Bamboo? Teragren’s Synergy bamboo is commercially rated because of it’s extream durability. It has a beachy feel and won’t warp like most hardwoods.

Another option is Marmoleum. It’s 100% natural linoleum and non-allergenic. Linoleum was orriginally invented for battleships, so you can immagine the resistance to water!

The third option is EarthScapes or CushionStep sheet vinyl by IVC and Armstrong respectfully. I have heard of one of Mercer’s customers having their basment flood with a few feet of water after having put down this product! And, once everything was drained and dryed, they were able to reuse the floor!

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, please feel free to sent an e-mail to

Wood Flooring Guy

Krono have a great range of laminate wood flooring – especially the Vario and Krono Original which is extremely hard wearing.


I think bamboo would be an excellent choice , I like the look and also its durable. I’ve had them installed for three years now and they’re still going strong. I however had them sealed> but thats the case with most hardwoods.

Gabriel Celibataire

Very good article, I am glad that I read it because I think about to buy a beach house, now when I saw this info I will attend with the flooring :)

Laminate Floor

I’ll go with laminate flooring.Thanks for suggestions.


I would think the sand would scratch a hardwood floor? Wouldn’t a vinyl, linoleum or tile be better?


Earthscapes or Flexitec or IVC, vinyl are perfect options for a beach house. They are water resistant, stain resistant, scratch resistant and very easy to maintain. Their appearance would fool you if you didn’t know the wood and stone looks were faux.

Grant@Myers Carpet

We have a brand new line of bamboo at our dalton store .click the link to see our selection on our site .
Myers Carpet Dalton
3096 North Dug Gap Road
Dalton, Ga 30722
Hours: M-F 8:30am to 5:30pm, Sat 10:00am to 3:00pm

Rob J

Thanks for the post!

Where I think there have been a number of great suggestions here (bamboo in particular), I think the safest and most inexpensive choice is probably laminate flooring. This is mainly because it’s probably the lowest maintenance, and has the greatest scratch resistance which will be an issue with all of that sand around.

I agree with Annette in that a good strategy would be to find a laminate with the best moisture resistance possible, particularly at the seam where it’s most vulnerable. There are some laminates which include a waxed edge at the seam and in the locking system which are designed to rebuff moisture and add to the life of the floor. Be sure to insist on a minimum AC3 rating, too.

Thanks again for the post!


I would recommend Quick-Step laminate flooring. They are the best on the market for laminates and you will not have the expansion problems you have with a real wood floor. It will also not fade in the sunlight like real wood.


I have a laminate floor. The glue underneath it has weakened, so now it flexes when you walk on it. It also scratches. The companies that make laminate floors have really conned people to think that it doesnt scratch. Plus it looks really cheap.

Rob J


Laminate flooring has really evolved. I suspect that the laminate you’ve got has been there for a while, and may have scored lower on the AC rating (below 3). These days, there is way more to choose from when it comes to laminate flooring, including handscraped effects, high-gloss piano finish, and thicker boards (12-14mm are now more common).

So, where laminates of lesser quality certainly can look cheap, laminate floors are like any other product – there is good and bad product floating around out there. When shopping for it, just make sure you’ve looked at AC rating, thickness, a reputable locking system type, and a good quality HDF core. And of course, make sure that the vendor your deciding on will support your purchase if anything goes wrong.

Hope this helps!

Floor Builders

This was a really informative blog. I live at the beach and have been needing to get new floors for a while now. It is so important that people do research before jumping into buying a floor! It is a huge part of your home and very important!

Wood Flooring 2U

I agree with the laminate flooring suggestions, a high AC grade laminate (especially Balterio laminate flooring) would be resilient enough for this situation.


Can someone recommend a hardwood flooring product that will hold up under pets (mainly dogs). Is there a commercial grade product, impregnated, engineered??? I would really appreciate any feedback.
Thanks in advance!

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