Can You Install Flooring In The Winter?
For most people, buying new floor covering is a major purchase. The last thing buyers need is to spend good money on flooring materials, only to have it wasted due to a bad installation. Many homeowners in colder climates ask, "can you install flooring in the winter?" In this article, we explore whether or not buying and installing floor covering during times of cold weather is a good or bad idea.
Temperature and Floor Coverings
No matter the flooring type, each new flooring purchase will come with a product warranty. The full flooring warranty document can usually be found on the company's website. Like all legal documents, warranty brochures will come with all sorts of disclaimers and items that are NOT covered. Temperature control is one of the very first items that every warranty will discuss.
In almost every case, during the winter months (in cold climates), the project area will need to be environmentally controlled. In other words, the room(s) being remodeled need to have central controlled heat. Why is this? All flooring products depend on a stable environment for proper installation. If a product does not have stable conditions, the product itself or the product's adhesive might fail. Let's take a look at a random warranty to see how it is worded:
Damage to floor caused by flooring that is installed using the glue down method that subsequently is heated to temperature above 140° F (60° C) or is exposed to temperatures below 32° F (0° C). Flooring exposed to these conditions must be installed using the floating method in order to maintain warranty coverage. Shaw Floors
In this case, Shaw Floors is saying, if you use our adhesive, the room needs to be kept above 32 degrees. Let's take a look at another random warranty:
SolidTech Flooring is warranted as indicated above in continuous climate controlled interior environments. The following general terms and conditions apply. If you have questions regarding the warranty information, please contact your retailer or Mohawk sales representative. 1. These warranties apply to SolidTech Flooring when installed and maintained in accordance with our most recent installation and maintenance procedures. A copy of these procedures are included in each carton of material. For the most up-to-date procedures, please visit www.mohawkflooring.com. The original owner agrees to provide proof of compliance with recommended installation and maintenance procedures when a claim is filed. 2. These warranties apply only to the original owner and the first installation of the product and are non-transferable. The “original owner” is the person stated as the buyer on the purchase document(s). This warranty applies only to first quality SolidTech Flooring purchases. Mohawk Warranty
This is just another random example of a flooring warranty that discusses temperature. Notice how in this warranty, it states right at the top: "continuous climate controlled interior environments." Our point is: maintaining a stable temperature is a very big deal in floor covering warranties.
So, what does this mean if you're having new flooring installed, and it's zero degrees outside your home and snowing? It might make no difference at all, or it might be a big problem. Let's take a look at a few examples:
Example #1: Customer is remodeling an existing living room. This is an occupied home with central heat in the house. In this case, the outside weather conditions will make no difference at all. The home has a controlled heating system, the area of the home is enclosed from the cold weather, and the area is occupied. The flooring installation can be safely performed.
Example #2: Customer is building a new home, it is enclosed, but does not have the central heat installed. This is a common problem with new home construction. The builder does not have the central heat running, but they are in a hurry to get the flooring done. Typically, the builder will bring in a portable heater, in an effort to heat up the home. This is a recipe for disaster. Homeowners should never install flooring without having a controlled environment. There are a few issues with portable heaters: 1. What happens if the portable heater shuts off at 1am when no one is in the house, and it's zero degrees outside? 2. Almost no flooring warranty will be honored if there is a product failure with no central heat.
Example #3: Customer is building a new slab home (on concrete). The home is enclosed, and the central air was just turned on. This is a bit tricky. While the air in the home might be controlled, the concrete slab is not. New concrete slabs require time to develop. Moisture issues are a big deal in newly poured concrete. Flooring installation needs to wait until the moisture readings in the new slab are at a level acceptable to the product warranty.
Can You Install Flooring In The Winter? Common Sense Issues
In this section, let's talk about some common sense issues that a homeowner should consider when starting a wintertime flooring project
Furniture Issues: In many cases, homeowners that have purchased new flooring need a place to move their furniture. In the summertime, that location might be outside. Obviously, if it's zero degrees outside, with snow on the ground, moving the furniture outside is not going to be an option.
Tracking Stuff Inside: As a homeowner, do you want installers tracking in snow, water and dirt? during a wintertime installation, that is exactly what is probably going to happen. No matter how careful the installer is, if there is snow on the ground, it's going to find its way inside the home.
Installer Equipment: Depending on the material being installed, many times installers will set-up ceramic or hardwood saws outside (to avoid getting dust in the home). In the wintertime, this might not be an option. So, as a homeowner, if a lot of material cuts need to be made, consideration of the installer equipment will need to be addressed.
Length of Project: Is this project a one-day event, or is this project going to take several days or weeks? Any project that lasts more than one day, could be quite inconvenient for a homeowner, especially during the winter months.
Product Acclimation: Many product warranties (especially hardwood and vinyl plank flooring) require the product to sit in the actual project space for 72 hours prior to installation. This helps the product get used to the environment and avoid shrinking once installed. This procedure should happen 12 months out of the year. However, when space is tight during the cold season, having a bunch of product boxes sitting around could be annoying and very inconvenient.
Open Doors: Let's face it, some people handle the cold much better than others. Likewise, as a homeowner, if workers are constantly opening and closing doors (during the wintertime months), expect that heating bill to jump off the chart.
Can You Install Flooring In The Winter? No Problem
Now that we've looked at all of the negatives, let's take a look at some reasons why installing flooring in the winter is not a big deal at all:
Permanent Heat: Customers that have either a new home or occupied home, that have central heat running, should not have any issues with the cold weather affecting the flooring installation. Once installers get the materials and their tools in the home, the installation should work just like on any other day.
Small Projects: Putting new carpet in a living room or bedroom, new vinyl plank in a bathroom, any of these one-day projects should be a piece of cake for a professional installer. For these smaller type projects, there is no need to delay the installation. Homeowners can jus get it done and move on to the next one.
Conclusion - Can You Install Flooring In The Winter?
As mentioned above, the biggest issue with starting and completing a winter flooring project is heat. Homeowners need to have their central heating system running and set at a controlled temperature. 99% of the flooring products in the marketplace require permanent heat in their product warranties. Any installation that occurs without heat, might void the product warranty.
As a homeowner, any concerns about temperature and weather should be discussed with a flooring professional. Since installers usually guarantee their installation work for a period of 12 months, most installers will be honest with a homeowner, and will not want to perform any product installation, if the conditions are not right.
Winter floor covering installations are perfectly fine. It sometimes simply requires a little additional planning and preparation. For example, homeowners need to understand the outside conditions and plan accordingly. Installer tools, length of project and space for moving furniture need to be discussed. In some cases, it might be best for the homeowner to get the project done, and in some cases, it might be better for the homeowner to wait until they have warmer weather. as we have said several times in this article, it's all about the heat. If there is not permanent heat, the installation should not happen.
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