There are a lot of factors to consider when installing new porch flooring. You need something that will last, even when exposed to temperature fluctuations. You know tongue and groove flooring options are easy to install and seal together seamlessly. But what are the best tongue and groove flooring options for your porch? We've done some research and have some options for you!
The best tongue and groove porch flooring options are:
- Natural Fir
- Brazilian Ipe
- Wood composite
Now that you know some of the materials best for tongue and groove porch flooring, let's examine them in more detail. There are some pros and cons to tongue and groove porch flooring to discuss, and we'll elaborate on each of the options listed for your porch. Keep reading!
The Pros of Tongue and Groove Porch Flooring
There are several advantages to installing tongue and groove flooring for your porch. The biggest pro is the seamless way the planks fit together, allowing little to no space between each piece. This ensures a smooth finish and keeps the look of the flooring smooth. One of the primary problems with wood is the way it expands and contracts with temperature differences. The way the flooring pieces fit together allows for some movement without allowing spaces to expand and separate as with traditional planks.
Another advantage is the ease of installation. The grooves take the guesswork out of spacing and leave less room for human error. With traditional plank flooring, there is the chance the seams between the boards can shift over time, leaving uneven floors or extremely noticeable gaps.
The Cons of Tongue and Groove Porch Flooring
Tongue and groove flooring does have a few disadvantages. Once all the pieces have been fit together and secured in place, if a single board needs replacing, this can be difficult if not entirely impossible to do. When trying to make a simple repair, it is quite easy to break off the tongues. Since the wood's shape can swell and contract, it can be difficult to get all the pieces back together once taken apart.
There are also some worries that tongue and groove flooring fit so closely together with no gaps, allows excess moisture to build up if exposed to too much wetness, such as rain or humidity. For this reason, it is recommended to only use tongue and groove porch flooring on a covered porch or enclosed sunroom unless special attention is taken to weather treat the floor, as well as attend to ongoing maintenance.
Best Tongue and Groove Porch Flooring Options
Natural Douglas Fir
By far, Douglas Fir is the most traditional and widest used wood for flooring and is the strongest of the softwoods. Not only is Fir strong, but it is also soft enough to be easily workable, taking nails and screws very well without damaging the integrity of the wood. The wood of the Douglas Fir can withstand many weather conditions, especially if weather treated. This type of flooring can last decades if maintained and treated properly. Its versatile and easily workable nature is ideal for the tongue and groove flooring shape.
Not only is this wood strong, but it also has a beautiful, warm honey color that is lovely in its natural shade. However, it does hold paint and stain well, so it would work wonderfully with whatever style you've chosen for your porch. Since this is natural wood, it has all the faults that come with natural wood. It will shift and warp over the years if not well taken care of.
Wood flooring made of Brazilian Ipe (or Brazilian Walnut) is an excellent hardwood option for your porch flooring. Although it is pricier than many other wood varieties, it is naturally water-resistant due to its tough properties. The wood is extremely dense, so water soaks into it much slower than with some less expensive, softer woods. Ipe is also scratch, mildew, and fire-resistant. It's tough to beat in regards to longevity and durability.
Ipe has a darker finish compared to Douglas Fir flooring, so definitely take that into account when choosing your flooring. Additionally, Ipe has been somewhat overharvested in recent years, affecting the price tag and its ability to flourish.
A simple wood composite is likely the most affordable, also very durable, option for your porch flooring. Wood composite is a mixture of wood pieces and synthetic material to create a more water-resistant product. Most wood composite can be fashioned to look like real, natural wood while being much less expensive.
Composite wood is lightweight, easy to install, and comes in a variety of patterns and shapes to meet the expectations of any style. Sure, it's not real wood, but no one has to know that. And because the wood parts are mixed with synthetic parts, it is much more water-resistant than natural wood, so maintenance won't be as frequent or as tough.
The last option we will discuss is vinyl. Vinyl flooring has become more popular inside and outside of the home. Vinyl planks use more of a snap-type tongue and groove, so they can generally float over the subfloor. No need for glue or nails. Vinyl flooring is naturally water-resistant, as it is made of a type of plastic.
Vinyl comes in many different designs to fit varied tastes, even mimicking the look of real wood or stone. The flooring itself has a softer feel as opposed to some of the other options we've presented, so it's kind to feet. As with all options we've discussed, however, any tongue and groove type flooring needs to be installed on a covered porch. The best option if you want to use vinyl is a temperature-controlled, thoroughly enclosed porch or deck.
Can you use tongue and groove flooring outside?
Tongue and groove flooring can definitely be used outside. That being said, due to the way the pieces fit together, there will not be a lot of room to allow moisture through. If the tongue and groove flooring is exposed to a lot of rain or snow, there is the potential for mold and mildew to grow between the pieces, causing excessive shifting and warping. Because of the shape, the shifting can be kept to a minimum, but once the boards are warped, they are difficult to replace.
If this is a concern for you, we recommend treating each piece of flooring with weather sealant before installation, as well as following up by weather treating at least once a year -- more frequently if you live in an extreme weather zone.
Want to know some interesting ways to keep the rain off your porch? We have a post discussing just that!
Can you paint tongue and groove flooring?
Whether or not you can paint your tongue and groove flooring depends on what type of material it is made of. Many kinds of wood do very well with paint, while others do not. For example, if the flooring is made of pine, this can be painted using latex-based paint. If painting your floors, remember to always sand, prime, paint, and seal. All this is best done before installation.
Instead of painting your flooring, we recommend staining or purchasing a flooring type in a design you would prefer. Painted floors, especially if they are going outside, tend to not wear very well over time. Always research the material of which your flooring is made before attempting a paint job.
How do you install wood tongue and groove to a porch floor?
Begin by laying down felt paper over the surface on which you will be installing your planks or flooring pieces. This gives you a base on which to work. Measure one board width from the wall and snap a chalk line. Make sure the boards are locked into place, then face-nail the first few rows of boards.
Face-nailing is used to hold the boards in place while the installation is in a difficult position to maneuver a nail gun. Once you have several rows down, you are free to go back with a pneumatic nailer and nail into the tongue of each board. Pay close attention to the spacing and ensure the nails are even and uniform.
When it's time to install the last board, use a circular saw to shape it to fit snugly. Pry the tongue and groove together as tightly as possible at install. Face-nail the final board. If placing trim, nail that at an angle over the final board. Cut the boards around any door openings to fit. Finish by installing any remaining trim.
If you are using snap in place flooring, simply follow the same steps without using nails. Most snap-type tongue and groove boards or tiles come with instructions for install and aren't the same as tongue and groove in the traditional sense.
Tongue and groove flooring is a great option for covered porches or sunrooms. The shape takes a lot of the guesswork out of installation while also creating a beautiful, seamless look to your outdoor space. Just ensure you're following the appropriate weather treatment steps and maintenance, and enjoy your beautiful porch for years to come.
If you're looking for more information on the best flooring for your porch, read our post, "What is the Best Flooring for a Porch?"