Q: What should I consider before purchasing flooring for my basement?
A: Basement flooring options are a little more involved than other flooring options. First, let me address the biggest concern—Moisture. Moisture is a concern in nearly any basement because it is below grade and the lowest surface in the home. Because of this, there are a few things you need to consider before considering the flooring types. If your basement is particularly susceptible to flooding, leaking, or seepage you will want to seal it before the installation of any flooring. This can be a costly process, but is necessary in preserving any of your future work and preventing mold problems. Humidity and condensation is another big problem. When moist air meets the cool temperatures of the basement it tends to cause condensation that allows the growth of mold and mildew. Your heating and cooling system is probably equipped with a dehumidifier that helps keep your relative humidity levels between 30-60%, which the EPA recommends for a healthy indoor environment. If your HVAC system is not equipped to handle the additional load of the basement, consider a portable unit for that area. Next, look at the surface of the cement flooring. Make sure it is level and fix any cracks or flaws. You can also use backerboard to create the smooth surface. Now you can consider what type of floor covering you would like for your newly finished space. Just like in the rest of the home, consider how you will use the space and the level of traffic it will see. Low-pile carpets are always a popular choice as they are easy to clean and resist traffic wear. Other options include all of the typical flooring options including laminates, tile, engineered wood and even concrete staining and engraving.