What kind of flooring can I install in our unheated, 140-year-old cottage?

What kind of flooring can I install in our unheated, 140-year-old cottage? The floors are currently covered in very old rolled flooring on top of wide cedar boards. We considered using rolled flooring again, but we don’t want the curling and cupping we have now. What do you recommend?

Rolled flooring is durable, and that’s why it’s often used in cottages. But as you’ve discovered, it doesn’t always stay put all that well. Even glued installations can sometimes be troublesome, especially in cottages. The reason is the wide swings in temperature that occurs over the course of the year inside all unheated buildings. This leads to shrinking, swelling, and trouble. Alternatively, I’ve seen unfinished boards do a terrific job as a cottage floor, if you’re okay with a rustic look. Foot traffic wears the wood to appearance that’s very much in keeping with an informal place. In my experience dirt stains aren’t a problem, even if you walk around in outdoor shoes. A more refined approach is a laminate floor. This goes down easily, is surprisingly tough, but there’s a hitch. Laminates required a very flat subfloor that few older places have. Any more than a 1/4-inch deviation from level over a 10-foot radius lets laminates flex and make noise under foot.

Posted on January 26th, 2013

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