Choosing Flooring for Your Basement

Choosing Flooring for Your Basement
No longer is the basement the catch-all for outdated furnishings and knick-knacks, seasonal clothing, and the treadmill-turned-clothes-hanger. Homeowners are turning basements into spaces worthy of the main living area. So whether you’re turning your basement into an additional living space, bedroom, craft room, playroom, or game room, we’ve got some tips on how to choose flooring appropriate for “below grade” living. 
Basements are known for having moisture issues as they are below grade. Below grade means the structure (your basement) or part of the structure is below the surface of the ground that surrounds it. Moisture issues must be addressed before you begin your remodeling project to avoid costly renovations in the future. The purpose of this article is to specifically address basement flooring, however, ThisOldHouse.com has some excellent, overall tips for basement remodels at this link: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20557080,00.html
 
1.Consider the purpose of the room. Like any other room in the house, think about how the basement will be used, how often, and the types of activities. Hanging out and watching TV is very different from using the room for crafts where glue, paint, and other potential messes can occur. If your space will be used for a variety of activities (TV and crafts), we recommend hard surface flooring with a nice comfortable rug in the TV area. This is also a great way to add some fun color.
 
2.Choose flooring that can be installed below grade. The following flooring can be installed below grade:
  • Carpet: Choose a carpet made from synthetic fibers (vs. wool) as these carpets can withstand mold and mildew. Carpet is an excellent choice for warming up an otherwise cool space.
  • Engineered hardwood: These floors have a multi-ply construction, which gives them greater stability and reduces concerns about shrinking and expanding with temperature and humidity changes. 
  • Tile: If condensation is a concern, consider glazed ceramic floor tiles with an anti-slip finish.
  • Laminate: An excellent choice for basements as it’s easy to install, durable, and looks like hardwood. It’s also easy to clean.
  • Vinyl: This flooring is gaining popularity again for its price point, easy installation, and cleanability. Newer styles mimic the beauty of hardwood and natural stone.  
  • Rugs
 
3.Address moisture issues prior to installation. If your basement is susceptible to water and moisture issues, these need to be remedied before the flooring installation. Humidity and condensation are other considerations to address as these can cause mold and mildew. These are sneaky as they first happen where you’re unlikely to see them till you have a big problem on your hands.  Most HVAC systems have a dehumidifier. If yours doesn’t, you can purchase one.
4.Inspect and prepare the concrete slab prior to installation. For your new flooring to perform well, the slab must be level and any flaws patched and sealed. This enables a better flooring installation and helps your flooring perform well over the years. It’s a very important step as failure to do this can result in hindering the floor’s performance and aesthetic, as well as causing the flooring to separate from the subfloor. 
 

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