It’s time to turn your basement into real livable space for your family to enjoy. There are a lot of decisions to be made, but before you pick your lighting or even wall color, it is important to choose the right flooring.
Things to Consider When Remodeling Below Grade
Maybe you have your heart set on a rich hardwood floor for your new space. You may want to rethink that decision. If you install hardwood in an area that gets moisture (even moisture you don’t feel), you will end up disappointed. Plus, if this is going to be a high-traffic family area, you may want to consider more kid-friendly flooring options.
When considering what type of flooring to put in your basement, ask yourself these important questions:
- How will the area be used? Will young children be playing down there and possibly spilling drinks and food, or will it be primarily an adult space? When installing new flooring, consider how easily certain messes can be cleaned.
- Does the room feel damp? Moisture can kill hardwoods and some laminates, making other flooring options more desirable.
- Will you be laying the new floor directly over concrete or a second subfloor?
- How much maintenance are you willing to do to keep your new floors looking great? Some flooring is easier to care for than others, so consider how much work you want to put into them down the road.
Determining Your Basement’s Moisture Level
Maybe your basement doesn’t feel damp, but are you sure that no moisture is seeping through the concrete slab? To find out, simply lay a sheet of plastic on the floor for a few days and then lift to look for signs of moisture (water droplets or sweating, color changes to the plastic, etc.). If you see none, fantastic – your basement is moisture free and you can install just about any kind of flooring that you like. If, however, you detect even small amounts of moisture, you will want to consider only “wet basement” style products.
Damp Basement Flooring Products
Just because your basement shows evidence of some dampness doesn’t mean you can’t have nice floors. You just want to stay away from organic products (like certain hardwoods and carpeting) that tend to absorb moisture and either warp and crack over time or grow mold and mildew. Instead, consider these products:
Tile: A very durable and moisture-resistant product, tile is an excellent choice for areas that may become damp. Able to resist mold and mildew, tile offers a safe flooring option that not only looks great but can handle a lot of abuse. It can feel cold for some but adding a few scatter rugs can help warm up the space. If they become wet or damp, they can be removed to clean and dry.
Laminate: Offering the look of both hardwood and tile, today’s laminate flooring is beautiful and practical. Most manufacturers even offer waterproof styles these days, making it the perfect choice for many basement remodels.
Open Weave Carpeting: If you adore carpet and want it in your basement despite periodic dampness, be sure to steer clear of natural fibers (they breed mold) and install open weave to allow more circulation through the carpeting, which can keep it dry. Installing a water vapor barrier can also help keep moisture at bay.
Some hardwoods: Depending on the level of dampness in the room, it may be safe to install some hardwoods, too — especially if you install a subfloor and a water vapor barrier, too!
Wet Basement Flooring Options
No matter what you do to keep them dry, some basements can get wet. If yours tends to pool water or even appear wet at times, be sure to safeguard your floors by using these popular wet basement options:
Vapor Barrier Floor Paint: An easy way to make a cement floor look better while keeping moisture out.
Ceramic Tile: One of the safest wet floor options, ceramic tile repels moisture. When it does get wet, it can be dried without damage.
Rubber Tile Snap Flooring: Able to withstand a lot of dampness (and even some standing water), rubber snap tiles are both durable and practical. If they are damaged, they allow you to replace a few without ripping out the entire roomful of tiles.
Dry Basement Flooring Options
If you are lucky enough to have moisture-controlled basement, then you will be pleased to know that your flooring options are nearly endless. Without moisture to worry about, you can install any style or product you would in any other part of the house.
Creating a beautiful living space in the basement doesn’t have to be difficult, but it may require taking its moisture levels into consideration when choosing your flooring. Lucky for you, there are plenty of options available today to give every homeowner the opportunity to turn their basement into a great space for the family!
Lynn Black is a graduate of Christopher Newport University with over a decade of experience in marketing strategies and content writing. She is a military spouse to a member of the United States Coast Guard. Lynn has experience completing DIY projects and will be tackling an upcoming home renovation using Bargain Outlet products.