December 4 is #NationalSockDay, a day we celebrate how these fashion accessories can make our feet more stylish, comfortable in our shoes, and toasty warm. Socks aren’t the only items that can keep our feet cozy and warm, though. When you choose the right flooring, your feet can stay extra warm this winter.
Floor Warming Tricks
Any flooring can feel warmer with some clever tricks. The strategies below are great options for homeowners that aren’t ready to replace their existing floors.
Using area rugs is an easy way to warm your feet on any surface. Strategically place them in areas you’re often barefoot, such as near your bed and in front of your bathroom sink. Area rugs can also make rooms seem more inviting and add interest to large, single-toned floors. Area rugs are also relatively affordable and available in a range of designs, from conservative to cutting-edge, so they’re easily paired with any decor.
The warmer you can keep your rooms, the warmer your floors will be. Filling any wall holes or cracks with caulk or sealant and replacing worn weather-stripping around doors and windows prevents warm air from escaping and cold air from entering your rooms. As hot air rises, adding ceiling insulation is another smart idea. Draft snakes placed near doors can also make your rooms, and their floors, warmer.
Sunlight is also your friend. Opening up your curtains or blinds during the day can bring sunlight into your rooms and warm them and your floors. Close your window coverings once the day cools to retain the heat you’ve collected. This technique works best on floors that are great conductors of heat, such as hardwood and tiles.
Underlayment often acts as a temperature buffer between chilly concrete or plywood subfloors below and flooring surfaces above. It’s most effective when used with flooring that readily takes on the feel and temperature of the layer underneath, such as vinyl, laminate, or linoleum. Fiberglass batt insulation can reduce heat loss through floors built on joist platforms. Insulating the floors, rim joists, and headers can be an effective way to warm these floors.
Radiant below-surface heating is the most expensive option, but also the most effective. It radiates heat through the underlayment up to the top flooring layer and through the rest of the room, helping your favorite spaces feel toasty even during cold winters. The most common and affordable radiant below-surface heating systems feature wire coils heated with electricity. Installing hydroponic systems, made from water-filled tubes, is more expensive, but since they are more efficient, they’ll pay for themselves over time. Whichever radiant below-surface system you choose, you’ll get the best results under conductive flooring materials such as stone and tiles.
Cozy Cozy Carpet
Carpet is a natural choice for warm flooring. This soft floor covering has been a popular choice for comfort in high-traffic areas including family rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms for decades.
When warmth matters, not all carpets are created equally. Carpets with the longest, thickest threads are the most effective for protecting against cold and insulating against heat loss because their fibers trap warm air.
Carpet feels cozier with a dense foam or wool carpet underlay underneath. This layer will make your carpet feel warmer underfoot and help it resist heat loss.
Carpets aren’t without their drawbacks, however. Their fibers tend to attract dust and pet dander, so they’re not ideal for people with allergies. Carpeting can also rot if it comes into contact with water and moisture. As a result, carpets don’t suit damp environments such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas.
Put a Cork On It
Cork’s tiny air pockets act like bubbles of insulation, stopping hot air from escaping while preventing cold air from penetrating its surface. This feature of cork makes it much warmer to walk on than you may expect. It’s also a healthy choice, with hypoallergenic and antimicrobial properties. However, cork is damaged easily by pets, high heels, and moving furniture. Sunlight also fades cork quickly.
Cork is sold in tiles and sheets, which are easily installed on almost any surface, including a range of subfloors and existing flooring. The thicker the cork, the better its insulating properties will be.
Hardwood isn’t quite as warm as carpet or cork, but it’s still one of the warmer flooring surfaces on the market. Hardwood will stay warmest in newer, well-insulated homes. If your home is drafty, the cool air will make your hardwood floor cold as well.
While solid hardwood is as warm as engineered hardwood, it’s prone to shrinking in the cold and expanding during warm weather. As solid hardwood changes, it can become warped or develop cupping. Engineered hardwood, made from layers of wood bonded together, still doesn’t suit wet rooms, but it’s much more stable in low and high humidity. Its stability is a crucial selling point for Americans who live in very cold climates.
Vinyl and Laminate
On their own, vinyl and laminate aren’t especially warm or cool underfoot. However, since they’re so thin, they can be greatly enhanced with padded underlay made from insulating materials such as foam or cork. Add underlay to vinyl and laminate to enjoy warm floors without any fuss. The durable top coats resist staining and discoloration, are easy to keep clean, and don’t absorb water. These features make them a great choice for areas that don’t suit carpet, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry areas.
When it comes to vinyl and laminate flooring, you get what you pay for. Luxury vinyl flooring planks and high-end laminates will feel warmest underfoot. Remember to add the cost of a quality underlay to your budget estimates.
Many homeowners associate ceramic and porcelain tile with icy cold floors. However, the same temperature-transmitting quality that makes them so cold in winter can be used to your advantage. Add radiant below-surface heating, and you’ll find ceramic and porcelain tiles become toasty warm. Their water-resistant properties make them great for kitchens and bathrooms, but they can be expensive, especially when paired with a below-surface heating system.
Your flooring can make a significant difference to your comfort throughout the year. If you live in an area with harsh winters, the above warm flooring options can make your home and feet feel much cozier when the big chill hits.