Cool Flooring In The Summertime

This summer has been a hot one!

Summer of 2012 has set all kinds of records for summer heat all over North America, or at least well above what’s considered the standard. So, it’s no wonder that the 21st Century homeowner is thinking about ways to find some level of relief, however small.  One direction to move in is in the area of flooring, and the surface coolness that certain floors can afford.

Crema marfil marble tile: calm, cool, collected!

This is not a radical choice.  And here’s some of the reasons why.

Why do tile, stone, wood floors feel cool, anyway?

First, let’s get the physics out of the way.

All materials draw heat; it’s called conduction.  Dense materials like tile or stone, or  even a dense wood floor tends to draw heat from objects on their surfaces a lot quicker than, say, carpeting.  Carpets and rugs trnf to insulate heat, which is why they’re so useful at colder times of the year. This is because there are more pockets for heat to be tucked away, as it were.

Travertine tile; classically cool!


So in addition to drawing heat away from surface objects (like your feet, for instance) faster, dense materials like stone, porcelain, and many kinds of wood flooring like a white oak hardwood floor, the heat hasn’t got as many place to hide away. Therefore, they feel much cooler to walk on.  This is why the family dog lies flat on bare wood floors, stone, and tile when it’s hot.  It’s an easy way to cool down.

White oak hardwood floors are cool. Like, *actually* cool. This is a white oak floor on BuildDirect's Alton Bay label.

Cool colors for floors

The psychology of color is pretty powerful. So, besides the science of conduction, how we perceive our surroundings can have an affect on how we experience them physically. As such, a cool color tile like a sea green marble tile or a blue-gray slate tile can give the appearance of cool,  as opposed to an orange or red one that communicates heat.

Glass backsplashes using cool colors work the same way, to help provide constrast to the floors you’ve chosen to help create a psychological cooling down effect. It’s kind of like a cooling down strategy using the principles of design, rather than a more powerful air conditioner.

Interlocked glass tile backsplash; a visual partner to your choice of flooring to cool things down.

Wood, stone, tile floors for all-seasons

It’s true that even though you care about a cool floor now, maybe you won’t by the time Fall and Winter roll around.  This is why a lot of people look for tile floors and many engineered wood floors that allow for radiant or underfloor heating. This way, the cool surfaces that come natural to these kinds of floors are available in the summer, but work with heating systems when the weather outside is frightful, a time that seems to be a million years away in the heat of summer.

Flooring and your indoor environment

Of course, saying all of this, a vital discussion to have with whoever it is you’re buying flooring from (hopefully BuildDirect, but in any case…) should be concerned with your environment. This is particularly pertinent to wood, and to laminate flooring as well.  Afterall, your floor will be in your space for a while, and you will be making a significant investment. Despite all of the natural ways your floor will help cool things down, areas of average temperatures, and humidity levels will have an effect on the health of the materials as well. Get those figured out before you make that investment.

Otherwise, stay cool!



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