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How Do You Choose the Right Wood Flooring for a Beachfront Property?

wood flooring

Choosing the right wood flooring for a beachfront property requires some special considerations. The floors will be exposed to moisture, sand, and sunlight. You’ll want to pick a durable wood that meets these conditions. In this article, we’ll review the factors to consider when selecting wood floors for a home on the beach.

A Guide to Wood Flooring Selection in Your Beach Home

beachfront wood flooring

1. The Effects of Moisture and Humidity

Floors in beachfront homes deal with a lot of moisture. Humidity levels are higher near the ocean. This moisture can damage wood floors over time. When wood absorbs moisture, it expands and contracts. These changes in size can cause warping, cracking, and separation between boards.

To limit damage, it’s best to choose an engineered wood floor. Engineered wood has a top layer of hardwood bonded to plywood or high-density fiberboard. It creates a more stable floor that withstands humidity changes. Solid wood floors are not recommended for beachfront properties because they are more prone to moisture issues.

2. Dealing with Sand

Sand is another consideration for beach house floors. Sand grains act like tiny abrasives that can scratch and dent the floor’s surface. To limit scratches, opt for wood with a durable finish. Hardwoods like Brazilian walnut, tigerwood, and slate have an extra hardness that makes them more scratch-resistant.

You’ll also want to install a good entryway mat system. Placing outdoor and indoor mats at every entrance will help trap sand before it reaches the floors. Be sure to shake out beach blankets and regularly sweep sand off the floors.

3. The Effects of Sunlight

The sunlight at the beach can fade, discolor, or warp wood floors over time. Install window treatments in rooms with direct sun exposure. Curtains, blinds, or screened porches will limit the harsh UV rays hitting the floors.

When choosing wood species, opt for options with natural resistance to fading. Mesquite, ipe, and walnut woods have higher levels of color-retaining oils. You can also apply UV-protective finishes during installation for extra protection. Reapplying this finish every few years will maintain the color.

4. Opting for Wider Planks

Wider wood planks are better suited for beach homes. The wider the planks, the less contraction and expansion they’ll experience from humidity changes. Six to eight-inch planks are a good width for minimizing warping and gapping. Go with the widest planks possible based on your floor joist spacing.

The construction of the wood also matters. Engineered wide planks will be more stable than solid wood. Plywood backing makes them sturdier to handle moisture and sunlight exposure better.

5. Choosing Durable Species

Some wood species are naturally more durable and ideal for beachfront homes. Teak is a top choice because it has natural water-resistant oils. Some people use vinyl flooring or parquet flooring in beach properties, but SPC flooring provides better durability if properly maintained.

Talk to your wood flooring supplier about wood species that fit your budget and match your durability needs. Domestic woods like hickory, maple, and red oak are budget-friendly options. Exotic species with moisture-resistant properties are a worthwhile upgrade for beachfront homes.

6. Opting for Hand-Scraped or Distressed Floors

Wood floors with a hand-scraped or distressed finish also make sense for beach properties. These textures help conceal small scratches and dents that can occur over time. The uneven surface catches the light differently, camouflaging imperfections.

A wire-brushed, scraped look has a rustic appeal that fits a laid back beach home. The weathered appearance complements whitewashed wood furniture and cozy, woven rugs. It provides a relaxed vibe perfect for sandy feet and beachy living.

7. Using Water-Resistant Subfloors and Underlayment

You can’t control the humidity and moisture outside. But you can create a moisture barrier beneath the floors. It keeps moisture from seeping into the boards from below. Use exterior-grade plywood when installing floors over a subfloor.

Marine plywood is another good option for resisting moisture. Waterproof underlayment add another layer of humidity protection. Cork underlayment soaks up moisture so it doesn’t reach the floors. Look for underlayment with pre-attached vapor barriers for simplified installation.

8. Choosing Easy-Care Finishes

The right finish protects wood floors and makes maintenance easier. Polyurethane finishes form a protective barrier against moisture and scratches. Newer water-based urethanes offer protection with less odor during application. Matte and satin polyurethane finishes hide scratches better than glossy coatings.

Just make sure the final coat is UV-resistant to prevent fading. Oil-modified finishes also repel water well. Regular oiling will keep floors protected. Oiled floors show fewer scratches since the finish penetrates the wood rather than sitting on the surface like polyurethane.

9. Using Area Rugs to Limit Damage

Rugs aren’t just decorative but shield floors from sand and sun damage. Use large area rugs in high-traffic zones like family rooms and main living spaces. Move them occasionally to allow even sun exposure. Routinely lift corners and sweep out the sand that gets trapped underneath.

Choose colorful, casual rugs that complement your beachy decor. Natural fiber rugs like jute, sisal, and seagrass are good options that can handle moisture. Avoid placing them in direct paths to entrances where they’ll track in lots of sand.

10. Maintaining Temperature and Humidity Inside

Keep your beach home’s temperature and humidity at ideal levels year-round. Use air conditioning and dehumidifiers as needed. Well-maintained moisture and temperature will minimize the expansion and contraction of the floors.

Ensure air conditioning units are properly sized and serviced before summer heat arrives. Keep interior humidity around 40-45% with dehumidifiers. Avoid large swings in temperature or moisture that shock the floors.

Proper climate control keeps wood floors looking beautiful at the beach for many years. Monitor conditions with a thermostat, hydrometer, and humidistat. Adjust as needed to meet the floor manufacturer’s recommendations.


Wood floors can withstand the demands of beachfront living when properly chosen and maintained. Select an engineered wide-plank floor in a dense exotic species for the best durability. Be sure to install underlayment like those from that creates a moisture barrier beneath the wood flooring.

Apply a UV-resistant polyurethane finish to protect the surface. Maintain interior temperature and humidity at ideal levels year-round. With smart design choices, you can enjoy beautiful wood floors in your dream beach getaway.

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