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I am contemplating finishing an outdoor porch floor with vinyl click & lock planks. Is this feasible?

The porch is 100% covered, and is on the North side. It receives no direct sunlight, except at late sunset, and no precipitation except the occasional rain splatter. Winters are generally -5C / 23F. It slopes 1in/4ft outward.

The subfloor is 5/8 PT plywood. It is open underneath that, and might in the future be closed with breathing aluminum soffits. Area is 400sqft.

Is this feasible? Any special considerations? Any better ideas?

Sealed vinyl decking (e.g. Ducan) is not preferred as I am looking for a DIY solution.

Tiling is an option, but I am concerned about longevity outdoors (thaw/freeze cycle).

Your suggestions, cautions and other input are much appreciated!

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  • I've seen/heard ads for "100% waterproof" flooring, I'd guess that it's more expensive, but would be more appropriate for an outdoor application. I'd think that the humidity and rain/snow fall would be the major concerns as the stuff isn't really designed for outdoor exposure. If you're willing to replace it (and not grumble) if it fails early, I'd say go for it.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 3 '20 at 12:18
  • @FreeMan, I'm glad you encourage it! It's a covered porch (I wrote patio, but porch is maybe a better word). So no snow or rain. The subfloor is PT and breathes underneath, so even with a bit of water penetration I'd not be concerned. I think tile on a semi-rigid subfloor (flexing, microcracks, water/freezing) is going to be far worse.
    – P2000
    Aug 3 '20 at 15:12
  • This is really a product question. You're either asking us whether vinyl flooring can be used outdoors (consult the product literature) or whether we recommend doing it anyway (off-topic as opinion). I'd say that freeze-thaw is less of a concern than expansion/contraction due to overall temperature swings.
    – isherwood
    Aug 3 '20 at 15:29
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    @isherwood I appreciate forum hygiene. There are some general points in the answer that I find valuable and are not opinion based. I think many recent good questions provide insightful answers and do not judge brands, but would equally be deemed "opinion": furnace filter, XPS insulation, type of brush..etc and many questions asking for experience are in fact opinion questions. And there is much insight to be gained from the debate around such opinions. This would be my argument against closing the question. Thank you for your consideration.
    – P2000
    Aug 3 '20 at 18:31
  • Fair enough. This type of question often devolves into rude debates over whether any civilized human would do such a thing, but this one hasn't.
    – isherwood
    Aug 3 '20 at 19:03
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I'm not a flooring expert, so take this with a grain of salt...

So long as you're willing to accept the fact that you're using a product designed for indoor use in an outdoor application and that means:

  • it's likely to fail earlier than you'd like
  • it's likely to fail in less time than is claimed on the tin
  • that any guarantee on the flooring probably won't be honored for being installed outside recommended parameters

I can't see a reason not to.

Some points to consider:

  • It might be slippery when wet, you may want to choose something textured
  • I've seen ads for "100% waterproof" flooring designed to resist spilled drinks, dogs peeing, etc. This is probably more expensive, but may be better suited for your more humid outdoor installation.

As far as your concern about tiles, remember that many in-ground swimming pools are tiled and have tiled/concreted decks and they survive in northern climes. Of course, they have the advantage of being directly on the ground and getting some heating from the ground itself, but the upper edges are well above the frost line.

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  • Thanks, this is useful. Good point on the guarantee/life. That's a risk/tradeoff. As for your tile comment, I thought perhaps a plywood subfloor outdoor is different from concrete/cement bed, considering flexing and moisture, and thus far more problematic.
    – P2000
    Aug 3 '20 at 18:22
  • That's a good point about the plywood, @P2000. There are membranes designed to separate the tile from the subfloor to allow them to expand at different rates, but that adds to the cost, too.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 3 '20 at 18:24
  • Ah yes, I've seen them. Well, so far I remain positive about the vinyl floor. Just important to keep it floating, so dealing with the flooring edge at the porch rim will require some inventive work. I was thinking of siliconing the flooring at the high side along the building wall (only).
    – P2000
    Aug 3 '20 at 18:33

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