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Am building a new home in Tampa, FL and considering engineered hardwood floors throughout except baths and utility. The builder does provide the option but they seem quite expensive. I'm thinking about letting the builder put in the base vinyl/carpet then putting in hardwood later.

In addition to the flooring, what other materials or underlayment would be needed? How long should the house settle?

Most important - is engineered hardwood really a bad idea on slab in FL??? I'd really like wood flooring but will stay with tile if wood may only last 15 years. I've researched the topic but it seems the question of putting wood over slab is "bad" for northern states with wide temperature variations.

-Edit- Air conditioning will be on keeping the house 78 - 80 degrees F. that is our comfort zone :) Of course there are super nice dryer days in winter when A/C isn't needed.

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Will the house be air conditioned? What kind of water table is below the slab? –  wallyk Aug 19 '13 at 2:36
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

There is nothing wrong with putting engineered flooring on your slab in Florida. It can last a really long time and I have installed it in my own home on slab and helped with other homes.

  1. Buy a really good wood. Make sure that you really give it a scratch test. Get samples and whatever. I used to take pennies, screwdrivers, smack my wife heals, all kinds of things on the samples. Let me tell you that most (80%) scratch easy.

  2. Don't buy any engineered flooring that has mdf backing. Wood backing only.

  3. The thicker the better. Don't let anyone talk you into flimsy engineered flooring, telling you thickness doesn't matter. IT DOES.

  4. The underlayment... Normally I say rigid foam then 3/4" plywood then light flooring pad... But this is FLorida and you don't have the insulation issues. I would look for 1/2" rigid foam sheets but this depends on manufacturer.

  5. I would wait 3-4 weeks for both house and wood in conditioned space.

  6. I would also cut out the bottoms of the drywall so that you can use the drywall - probably 1/2" - as you expansion gap. This will allow you to use whatever trim you want without quarter round.

  7. I wouldn't have the builder install any flooring. This will just cost you money and might hinder some of the engineered flooring installation.

  8. Overall thoughts on engineered flooring on a slab in Florida vs tile or whatever... Obviously carpet is the easiest to do and the easiest to deal with. Tile though can have major issues. If your slab settles or cracks or whatever the tile will crack and have issues. The engineered flooring will handle smaller cracks without any issues. Major cracks, it depends.

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Thank you DMoore!!! That is great information! –  CodeHawk Aug 19 '13 at 11:49
    
Once you pick out your wood you can look to the manufacturer or provider for info on underlayment. I mentioned the 1/2" rigid foam because if you had a small water issue or a small crack that let in moisture the rigid foam would handle it well. But your manufacturer may or may not allow something that thick under your wood. –  DMoore Aug 19 '13 at 16:47
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