Home Renovation Materials that Stand Up to High Humidity

High humidity damages susceptible building materials and makes them a haven for mold and mildew, issues you certainly want to avoid in your renovation project. What building materials are best for remodeling in humid climates? Here’s your guide to high-humidity renovation. The best materials for combating moisture are discussed as well as materials to avoid.

What Climates are High in Humidity?

As this map from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows, isolated areas east of the Central Great Plains have humidity levels near the top of the humidity spectrum. In the west, elevated humidity levels are found along the Pacific Coast with the highest levels in the Northwest. Humidity-resistant renovation materials are ideal for mean relative humidity levels above 75 percent.

The Best Siding for Humid Climates

Vinyl siding is impervious to moisture with one caveat – it must be installed properly to drain effectively in the heavy rains and humidity found in these climates. Natural cedar siding is a more elegant option for humid climates. Its natural oils deter moisture and insects, but wood siding requires more maintenance than vinyl and costs more too. Two siding options to stay away from in humid climates are stucco wall systems and brick veneer because both tend to trap moisture against the home’s sheathing, producing mold and rot.

The Best Flooring for Humid Climates

You have a wealth of options for flooring that stands up to elevated humidity. Vinyl sheet flooring is very affordable and available in a wide range of patterns. If you prefer an upscale look but want the easy cleaning and maintenance of vinyl, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and planks are worth your consideration. According to Annette M. Callari, Allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), “The ability to replicate real hardwoods and stones using advanced photographic technologies is the foundation of luxury vinyl flooring systems.” LVT floors are made with thick wear layers for years of durable and attractive appearance in residential and commercial settings.

Ceramic and porcelain tile and concrete are all good choices for climates with high humidity, and that is why they are often found in bathrooms and around pools. If you’re sold on natural wood, then engineered wood flooring is a better choice than solid wood. Its composite, cross-grained base layers better handle the moisture absorption and expansion that comes with higher humidity levels.

Laminate classified as HPL, or High Pressure Laminate, is acceptable in humid conditions because it is manufactured with adhesives that resist moisture absorption. Standard laminate flooring should be avoided where humidity levels are elevated. Carpet isn’t best in humid regions either because it tends to absorb moisture that leads to a musty smell and possibly to mold. If you currently have carpeting and want to save money on remodeling, commercial carpet cleaning will remove musty odors and the mold spores causing them.

The Best Wall Material for Humid Climates

Cedar paneling and plaster are lovely but expensive materials for remodeling your home. If those aren’t in the budget, standard drywall can be used if it is primed and painted to prevent it from absorbing moisture. In very moist climates, consider using treated drywall, sometimes called green board and typically used in bathrooms. It can be installed throughout the home, but has a slightly higher price tag than standard wall board.

The Best Cabinets for Humid Climates

While wood cabinets are beautiful, they are also susceptible to warping from absorbing moisture. This can be reduced by properly sealing them and applying a fresh coat every two or three years. Outdoor cabinets made with non-wood and composite materials can be used indoors too. Another option for kitchen cabinet refacing is to use laminate, Thermofoil or similar moisture-resistant materials. The upside of refacing the cabinets is cost savings over replacing them.

Successful Home Renovation in High Humidity

The key to home remodeling in humid climates is to choose your materials wisely. The options discussed here will resist moisture along with the damage and mold it can produce, and they’re available in a wide range of options you can tailor perfectly to suit your style.


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