Gone are the days of hanging a hammock on the lanai and calling it good. These days, homeowners take their downtime seriously. Creating a relaxing space to unwind and have fun with friends and family has caused our taste to change—for the better. Today’s family wants a backyard get-away that beckons them to enter—nothing is left undone. From the outdoor flooring to the final piece of decor, they use every inch of space to transform the spot into their personal oasis.
If you’re just getting around to creating yours, it’s a good idea to start planning from the ground up.
We mean that literally, by the way. The type of ground cover that you’re working with makes a difference in how the project rolls out. The three most common ground elements that homeowners encounter are grass, concrete, and sand. Each presents a unique set of challenges, for instance, it doesn’t take a lot of prepping to lay down pavers on grass. Tile over turf, however, is going to require a lot more prep work.
Scoping out the terrain
Is the area where you’re constructing your lanai fairly level or does it slope in one direction or another? The answer to that question can make a difference in the bottom dollar because you need to start with a flat surface. That’s necessary even if your flooring isn’t anything more than actually placing paving stones on the grass. We’d suggest actually grading the surface area and filling between the stones with sand at least if you didn’t plan to use some type of mortar to hold them firmly in place.
If you’ve ever had problems in the area with sinkholes or animals that love to dig, proceed carefully. You may need to do some extra reinforcing underground to ensure the integrity of the structure is sound.
Elements aren’t elementary
Take the weather into consideration when choosing outdoor flooring. It has to be hearty to stand up to the onslaught of sun, salt, rain, and, of course, the high winds that pummel us from time to time when storms blow in from the sea.
Making a wise choice now can add years to the life of your floor. Nothing is going to be able to withstand the elements forever, but using quality materials and keeping up with maintenance goes a long way toward increasing its lifespan.
There’s no doubt that being exposed to the elements is an outdoor floor’s worst enemy. Covered areas fair better than those that are entirely exposed. And, of course, enclosed, covered areas provide even more protection.
Moreover, the ultraviolet (UV) rays are intense here in Florida. They begin to fade surfaces and materials very quickly—not to mention the heat absorption when surfaces are exposed to direct sunlight! Ouch!
Types of outdoor flooring
Let’s take a look at some popular outdoor flooring choices. It should help you determine which is the best fit for your lifestyle.
Traditional outdoor flooring options include wood, tile, or brick. However, today’s market contains other choices, as well—such as playground flooring, for instance. Some flooring—such as pavers or pieces of stone—goes down very easily. Even a novice do-it-yourselfer can achieve beautiful results with patience and perseverance. Other types of floors—we’re talking tile and wood that need to be measured and cut to size—are best installed by a professional.
When you want your lanai floor to flow into the outdoors, use a natural material rather than a man-made one.
If you’re using wood, remember that it’s organic, so you don’t want it to be in direct contact with the ground. If it is, moisture will eventually work its way into the wood causing wood rot. Hot, humid climates provide the perfect environment for mold and mildew to begin to grow—and like wood rot, they spread. Mold is a known health hazard triggering allergic reactions in some people that will worsen the longer they are exposed to them.
Exotic woods, while more expensive, are ideal for outdoor use. It makes perfect sense because they are native to tropical environments—which get a lot of rain. Wood deck boards or wood floor tiles both produce a stunning end result. Keep in mind though, that to maintain that look, you’ll need to clean them periodically with a pressure washer and reseal them—annually if at all possible.
Stone floors don’t fade in the sun like wood surfaces tend to do. The best stone options for outdoor flooring include:
It is possible to buy huge slabs of stone, but the cost would be considered too extravagant for many homeowners—not to mention the expense of having it laid. Stone is typically cut and sold in tile form or as flagstone for those who like irregular shapes. Stone floors should be sealed at regular intervals and most people choose to have that done professionally.
Tile flooring is a fairly economical choice for outdoor areas. Of the two clay-based tiles, ceramic and porcelain, porcelain is more durable and does well in wet areas. It’s a bit more expensive than ceramic tile, but produces beautiful results and is long-lasting.
Tile floors are known to be slippery when wet so make sure you’re aware of the slip-resistance rating when making your purchase. You’ll also need to grout and seal both ceramic and porcelain tile. And, lastly, make sure the tile that you choose is rated for “outdoor” use, if you don’t, element exposure could cause them to pop loose from time to time.
Synthetic flooring options are great for someone who is short on time or just wants something easy to deal with. There are dozens of different materials that fall under this category and they include:
- Composite decking—This flooring material is a board made from a mixture of wood and plastic that are held together with a bonding agent. Most composite boards are more expensive than actual wood, but composite decking can outlast organic lumber by decades.
- Rubber—Rubber is well-known for its resiliency. Rubber flooring is sold either in rolls or in various sizes of tile. This style of flooring is appealing because it’s comfortable underfoot and provides excellent traction. It can get pricey though depending on the size of the area.
- Carpet—Outdoor carpet isn’t nearly as plush as the type of carpeting installed in the living room, but it adds an element of style to any area. Outdoor carpet tiles can be found in a wide array of colors and styles. It does require some care to keep it clean, but if you made a quality choice, it’s easy to maintain.
Textured, stamped concrete
Textured, stamped concrete has become more popular than ever. You can get different colors, textures, and patterns that provide aesthetic appeal without having to buy different materials or hiring several different installers.
Instead, a concrete surfacing specialist can give you as many different looks as you want by simply blending different colors and using different stamping stencils. It’s the perfect choice for anyone who wants to create an arty feel to their outdoor living space.
It’s very economical to boot!
Which flooring will you choose?
You probably already have an idea of the design plan that you’ll implement when your lanai is completed. Which of these floors will help you obtain the overall “feel” that you have in mind?
We have no doubt that whatever your final decision is, it’s going to be perfect! That’s because no one knows your family better than you do. Providing them with a space where they feel comfortable is what you do best!
Are we right?