Is Vinyl Flooring Good for Unheated Cottages? ​ | Gerflor Canada Residential Vinyl Flooring - Vinyl Flooring, Basement Flooring, Resilient Flooring

We asked Eddy Unruh, Gerflor’s cottage country expert whether he would recommend vinyl flooring for unheated cottages.

Eddy Unruh:

As a former retail sales person, I sold all kinds of flooring.  Over the years I saw how carpet, hardwood, ceramic and vinyl performed in unheated cottages.

I also learned cottage owners and their guests want to relax, and they continually move inside and outside all day long. There is also a huge trend toward beauty and simplicity. That is why an unheated cottage floor needs to be beautiful, low maintenance and durable.

Hardwood is very beautiful but can crack with changes in temperature and humidity. With people coming in and out all day long, the grit and sand tracked in can scratch hardwood floors.

Carpet is very warm and comfortable but needs to be vacuumed regularly.  It is hard, but not impossible, to clean out spilled beer and wine from carpet.

Ceramics are cold and hard and the grout will expand and contract with extreme changes in humidity and temperature. Ceramics also crack.

I love vinyl for unheated cottages, but I would not recommend all vinyl flooring options.

Invest in a better quality vinyl floor and you will get a great looking floor that will stay beautiful over the years with minimal upkeep.

Here are Eddie’s Do’s and Don’ts when selecting a vinyl floor for an unheated cottage.​


  1. Don’t install your vinyl floor with glue. The glue can separate from a poorly prepared subfloor, and can react poorly to extreme cold.
  2. Don’t install an inexpensive vinyl floor. You will mostly likely have to go through the trouble of removing and replacing it in a few years time.


  1. Choose a vinyl floor with a textile backing and a compacted inner layer. Your floor will be:
    1. More stable (minimal expansion and contraction)
    2. More comfortable when walking barefoot
    3. More resistant to indentations
    4. More resistant to mould and mildew
  2. Choose a textile backing made from recycled pop bottles. This type of backing will not absorb and hold water.
  3. Choose a vinyl floor with a textile backing that can be installed over existing hardwood or ceramic. You will avoid telegraphing subfloor imperfections to the surface of your floor.
  4. Shop around and look for a quality vinyl floor and buy from people who are at the least as informed as you are. A good quality vinyl floor can last you more than 20 years.

My favourite Gerflor vinyl floor for unheated cottages is Gerflor HQR because of its Subzero Warranty. It is made with a recycled bottle textile backing and a compacted inner layer.

It is also:

– Formaldehyde-Free

– Lead-Free

– Solvent-Free

– Free of harmful plasticizers

– Low in VOC emissions (Meets European norms – the world’s toughest standards)

– Installed without glue

– Anti-microbial, and

– Cleaned with soapy water


Common Cottage Questions and Answers

Diane McDonald is a 30 year industry veteran that knows and understands vinyl floors. Here she answers your common cottage related questions:

We are renovating our unheated summer cottage. What Gerflor flooring is recommended for temperatures that dip to -40Cº? Mary C. from Gravenhurst

​HQR with GFT Plus Textile backed flooring is dimensionally stable, mould and mildew resistant and installs without glue. HQR is an ideal floor for unheated cottages.

What Gerflor is best for installing over existing ceramic and hardwood in my cottage?
Jerome F. from Morden

All Gerflor vinyl flooring made with GFT Plus Textile backing. The 3 mm backing and the compacted inner layer make it possible to install over most existing ceramic and hardwood.

Is it normal for vinyl flooring to lift after a few years inside a cottage that is not heated in winter? Susanne G. from Lavington

Yes and no. Like anything, not all vinyl flooring is created equal.

When properly installed in an unheated cottage where temperatures drop to -40C, a good quality vinyl floor should give years of beauty and enjoyment.

Poor quality vinyl improperly installed is like poor quality wood and poor quality ceramic poorly installed. They will all be adversely affected by extreme conditions.


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