Low Moisture Levels are Critical for
Installing Certain Basement Floorings
By: Mark J. Donovan
Basement flooring is an important
component of a finished basement. When deciding upon the appropriate
basement flooring for your basement remodeling project, it is extremely
important that you first determine whether or not you have a moisture
barrier underneath the basement floor. If you do not have a moisture barrier
underneath the concrete slab then you will have high moisture levels that
will wick through the concrete floor to the basement flooring.
|To check if you have a moisture
barrier underneath your basementís floor, cut open a few plastic trash bags and
lay them in a few different places on the basement floor. Spread them out on the
basement floor and tape them down. After a couple of days remove the plastic
trash bags from the basement floor and observe if they are wet on the bottom
side. If they are, chances are there is no moisture barrier underneath the
basement concrete slab. If this is the case, your basement flooring choices are
It is possible, however, to increase
your basement flooring choices by applying a basement waterproofing sealer to
the basement floor and to the walls. You can also have a French drain installed
around the basement foundation; however this is an expensive endeavor as it will
require excavation, gravel and PVC pipes to be installed.
If it is determined that you do have
a moisture barrier underneath the basement concrete slab then there are a number
of flooring choices to choose from.
Though not the ideal basement
flooring, carpeting is frequently used in basement remodeling projects. Berber
carpeting seems to be quite popular today due to its durability and comfort.
Carpeting can be installed even in cases where it has been determined that a
moisture barrier was not installed below the concrete slab. A cellulose
underlayment can be installed on the concrete floor, prior to installing the
carpet padding and carpet to provide a moisture barrier.
Carpeting is great for absorbing
sounds that are typically found in a basement, such as furnaces turning on and
off, and water running down drain pipes.
- Free Floating
Engineered flooring is ideal for
basements, as it floats on top of a foam underlayment that is first placed on
the basement floor. The foam underlayment helps to mitigate unevenness in the
basement floor and also helps to reduce sound. The engineered flooring floats on
this underlayment and can effectively breathe with changes in the basementís
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Engineered flooring is also ideal
for basement flooring due to its construction. It is constructed of several
layers of wood materials, which helps to stabilize the flooring from warping
or twisting. The top layer is usually an attractive wood veneer finish that
really gives the look of a solid hardwood floor, but without the concerns of
damage due to high moisture levels.
- Laminate Flooring
Like engineered flooring, laminate
floats on an underlayment. Laminate floors have a wood based core and a
photographic resin layer based surface that resembles a hardwood floor or vinyl
floor look. Laminate floorings need to be installed in dry basements with low
moisture levels, as it is possible for laminate floors to delaminate if they
come in contact with water.
Laminate and engineered flooring are
both designed to be installed by the do it yourself homeowner.
- Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile floors are also another
excellent choice for basement flooring, however they can be cold on the feet. It
is also important that there are no moisture issues with the basement as this
could negatively impact the life of the ceramic tile. In addition, it is
important that the basement floor is level prior to installing the ceramic floor
tile. A leveling grout or mortar may need to be applied on the basement floor
before installing the ceramic floor tiles. Also, it is imperative that any
basement floor cracks be filled in and sealed as ceramic floor tile has a
tendency to crack along basement floor cracks otherwise.
An inexpensive alternative is to
apply a couple of coats of paint to the floor. This is typically acceptable in a
low-end basement remodeling project, and it may be the only sensible thing to do
if there are concerns of high moisture levels or if there is the threat of the
You can fancy it up a little bit by
adding two color tones and or creating interesting patterns.
- Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood flooring should not be
considered as a basement flooring material. It is very susceptible to high
moisture levels and can not come in contact with water. If it does, the wood
will warp and quickly become ruined.
For more help on Finishing
Basements and Basement Flooring, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's
Basement Remodeling Bid sheet. The
Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet will help
ensure that your hire the right contractor so that your basement remodeling
project is done
correctly and you get the project finished on time and budget.
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