Considerations For Basement Flooring

Q: What are some of the things I should consider before choosing flooring for my basement?

A: There are a number of different issues to consider when choosing flooring for your basement. The biggest concern you must first address is 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 items you need to consider before selecting a floor. 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 to keep in mind. When moist air meets the cool temperatures of the basement, it tends to cause condensation that allows the growth of mold and mildew. Your homes heating and cooling system is probably equipped with a dehumidifier that helps keep your relative humidity levels in line 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 in the flooring. If the concrete floor is too rough to patch, you can also use either backer board or a substrate membrane to create a smooth surface.

If you have taken all of these items into consideration, and have made sure your floor is as prepared as it can be, you are now ready to move onto the last step. You can now consider what type of floor covering you would like to put down in your newly finished space. Just like in the rest of the home, consider how this space will be used, and the level of traffic it will see. Low-pile carpet’s, and especially prints now, 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, and engineered
wood. Since you are working with a concrete floor in a below grade area, you might want to consider some of the floating or loose lay options that each of these types of flooring comes in now.  Whatever flooring option you chose though, knowing that your floor is properly prepped for many unforeseen problems, means you should have less problems down the road!