Unheated Cottages

Cottages present a unique challenge for flooring. When a three season cottage goes unheated in the winter, the drastic change in temperature can cause a floor to lift or crack. Gerflor HQR has a Subzero Warranty, meaning it won’t lift or crack even on frigid winter nights when temperatures drop below –30 °C.


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


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.

Eddy’s Do’s and Don’ts when selecting a vinyl floor for an unheated cottage


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


  • Choose a vinyl floor with a textile backing and a compacted inner layer. Your floor will be:
    • More stable (minimal expansion and contraction)
    • More comfortable when walking barefooted
    • More resistant to indentations
    • More resistant to mould and mildew
  • Choose a textile backing made from recycled pop bottles.  This type of backing will not absorb and hold water.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Common Cottage Questions and Answers

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, all vinyl flooring is not 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.

For more helpful answers, check out our Q&A section with our 30 year industry veteran Diane MacDonald.