Friday, December 6, 2019

The Basement Dilemma

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

The finished basement seems a staple in homes today, offering more living space without a costly house expansion. But what are the design options in flooring for turning a basement into a livable area for your family?

basement_optionsReal Hardwood Flooring

A surprise to some, real hardwood flooring is a great option for applications in finished basements. Most homeowners think of real hardwood flooring as nailed down 3/4 IN. thick solid hardwood planks. Unfortunately, these solid hardwood floors can’t be installed over concrete and no manufacturer is going to uphold a warranty for solid wood installed below grade (anything below the 1st floor of the home). So, what real wood flooring CAN be put in a basement?

This is where engineered flooring comes in. Most consumers think of engineered flooring as being fake flooring. All too often, engineered flooring is mistaken for laminate flooring — when, in reality, they couldn’t be more different. Engineered flooring is simply modified real wood flooring, and it was created specifically to be put in situations where solid hardwood flooring could never go. Additionally, engineered flooring will add the same amount of value to your home as its solid counterpart.

Engineered wood flooring is made completely of real wood. The top layer (wear layer) is made of the featured wood species and is fused to a core of cross layered plywood. These cross layers take on more of the stress when real wood takes in moisture and expels moisture (expansion and contraction). In basements, expansion and contraction is magnified because of the higher moisture levels and engineered flooring is the only real wood flooring that is stable enough to survive these conditions. You can find more technical specifics on the construction of engineered flooring here.

Engineered flooring ranges in thicknesses from 1/4 IN. to 3/4 IN. (the same thickness as typical solid planks). The thicker the wear layer (top layer) of engineered flooring, the more times you can sand and refinish the flooring in the future, if ever needed.

Engineered flooring ranges in thicknesses from 1/4 IN. to 3/4 IN. (the same thickness as typical solid planks). The thicker the wear layer (top layer) of engineered flooring, the more times you can sand and refinish the flooring in the future, if ever needed.

Engineered flooring can be confusing to homeowners, when they are first introduced to it, because there are a few different types. There are your typical engineered floors with standard tongue and grooves (as shown to the right) and then there are also click lock floating engineered floors, featuring click locking edges and ends which snap together for a glueless floating installation. Standard tongue and groove engineered floors usually can be floated, but you would need to glue the seams of the planks together. Find more information on floating engineered flooring here.

In addition to floating, engineered flooring can also be directly glued to concrete floors in basements. Direct glue down installations are a little more tedious and messy, whereas floating (especially click lock floating) is a lot quicker. One of the most sought after benefits of click lock floating engineered flooring is that the planks are incredibly easy to replace. This is especially helpful in basements, where a surprise water leak from outside or from washing machines can seep onto hardwood flooring and cause damage. With click locking engineered planks, it’s very simple to take up the damaged planks and replace with new ones, without disturbing the rest of the floor.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring in basements is a great option if you’re looking for a hard surface flooring option at a cheap cost. Significantly less expensive than real hardwood flooring and, with all the technological advances in the industry, laminate flooring is looking better and more realistic than ever.

Most all of the laminate options on the market today feature amazing click locking systems, allowing for glueless floating installations which are quite literally a snap! Simply roll out an approved underlayment, click the laminate planks together and then get to enjoying your new basement floor. Standard size rooms can be installed in a few hours and homeowners can save lots of money by simply doing the install themselves — it really is that easy.

Laminate flooring is perfect for basements because it has all the beauty of real hardwood flooring, but holds up to moisture exposure and water leakage significantly better than hardwood flooring. Laminate planks can also be replaced very easily if any of the boards end up getting damaged.

Vinyl comes in a variety of styles, including wood patterns and tile patterns.

Vinyl comes in a variety of styles, including wood patterns and tile patterns.

Vinyl Tiles & Cork Flooring

Other viable flooring options for a finished basement are: Vinyl Tiles and Cork.These flooring options are perfect if you’re turning your basement into a playroom for children or a home gym. Both vinyl tiles and cork floors offer a more slip resistant surface, more cushion underfoot and both stand up to moisture well. Vinyl tiles and cork planks are typically installed via glue down applications. Additionally, cork flooring is naturally hypoallergenic and resists mold, mildew and bacteria growth — especially beneficial in basement settings.

Ultimately, basement flooring doesn’t need to be boring and you’re not stuck with just carpet or painted concrete options. The only limit for the design of your finished basement is your own imagination.


Tags: Basement, Cork Flooring, Design, Engineered Hardwood Flooring, Floating Hard Wood Floors, Vinyl Flooring

Comments: 3

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  • Tracy

    We were wondering if, with a suitable subfloor and a dry, below grade basement with no flooding history, if a reclaimed pallet wood floor would still work out?

  • Hi Tracy,

    Since the reclaimed pallet pieces are wood, they are still going to be affected by any change in moisture throughout the seasons. Make sure to use some sort of moisture barrier appropriate to your installation method to prevent moisture from travelling up through the subfloor to the boards. Also keep in mind expansion gaps at walls and other stationary objects you may be installing the boards up against.

  • I had picked out a wood looking flooring by Shaw’s, but the man in charge of laying it was not going to take my bottom floor boards off before installing the new floor. Another store said you would never do it thst way Why would the contractor not want yo do it rigjt, even if it takes more time, and would look so much better.

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