It’s 2020, and the high-density areas we live in just don’t allow for an idle basement. Instead, people have found new ways to optimize this space in their homes. Many turn them into laundry rooms, pantries, or even bedrooms if the right materials are used.
If you’re planning to do the same, then the first task before you is choosing from the best flooring options. Don’t worry – there’s good news. Whether your basement is finished or unfinished, you have a lot of options to install a basement floor.
The best flooring for your basement is the one that helps maintain an ideal environment and regulates moisture in the basement area. Wrong flooring in the basement can lead to constant dampness, which in turn contributes to the production of mold and mildew. Not only can these factors cause decay and deterioration of your basement, but it can affect the health of its inhibitors as well. Let’s look at the best flooring options to help you with your house reno work.
Vapor Barrier Or Raised Floor Tiles
As the name suggests, a vapor barrier is a built-in mechanism that prevents moisture from becoming trapped, by creating a simple gap between your floor and concrete. The gap maintains airflow under your floor, which allows effective moisture displacement. This means you won’t have to remove your flooring at now and then to fix the regular moisture buildup.
Furthermore, floor tiles with vapor barriers are created with an interlocking design. Also, they sport a waterproof base along with perforated holes on the surface. This allows air to move both horizontally and vertically through the structure. The interlock system eases installation and removal as well, so you can have a hassle-free home renovation. These vapor barrier tiles come in many forms, all of them effective in their way, here’s a list of the most popular ones to help you choose.
Carpet tiles or squares are very different from conventional carpeting. While the latter would make your basement warmer and more comfortable, it cannot face the moisture problem. Therefore, to get the best of both worlds, you can place carpet tiles over your concrete floors. This way, even if you notice a moisture buildup at one end, you can easily take off the tile from that area and clean the water up before mold formation.
Cork is a soft and breathable material. It’s more comfortable than your plain concrete floors, which makes it ideal if you want to turn your basement into a pantry or gym. Besides, the material is rot resistant and does not absorb water easily. If you feel the moisture on your flooring, you can just mop it up, and your flooring will remain as good as new.
The main problem with a vapor barrier, or raised floor tiles is that the materials are not entirely organic. This puts you at the risk of harmful chemical compounds and VOCs as well. However, this situation is avoidable if you choose a provider who is conscious of these dangers and provides protective, eco-friendly measures to combat them.
Floating floors resemble raised floorings in their construction. It’s like if you picture a jigsaw puzzle. Similarly, in floating floors, the pieces connect to create a sturdy surface. They’re not completely attached to your floor but are held together with the friction between the pieces and the perfect juxtaposition of each tile with the other.
Besides that, a floating floor is convenient if you like the idea of DIY installation. You’ll get perfectly engineered pieces which fit together on their own accord, you just have to place them together.
Although it might seem that these floors would be very easy to move around, that’s not the case. That’s simply because while the pieces are lightweight individually, they’ll weigh quite a lot when attached. Also, the friction generated by the cork or foam layer beneath the lamination leaves little room for any kind of movement.
Nevertheless, floating floors are a great option for making your basement safe to use. Here are some examples of floating floors to give you further insight.
Laminate flooring is perhaps the most prominent example in the floating floors genre. Laminate floorings are rarely attached to the original concrete ground. Any material or design you choose is usually installed in the floating format. This way, the flooring can effectively react by expanding and contracting according to your room’s requirement.
Vinyl flooring boards are also constructed in perfectly engineered pieces complete with small grooves and crevices for interlocking. Besides, vinyl floorings can be glued on to the subfloor as well. The boards stay locked together providing enough room for moisture management underneath.
Innovative wooden flooring systems are perfect examples of engineered flooring. Most of the time, these flooring boards can be nailed down to a subfloor made out of plywood, but some brands offer them with floating installation as well. This means you can get the natural protection and comfort of wood in the floating flooring system.
Floating floors are great for DIY home decorators. It gives you a wide range of choices with easy installation so almost anyone can go for it. For instance, hardwood floors would be a pain to install by nailing the planks down one by one, but with a floating laminate floor, the task becomes easy.
However, the option does come with its disadvantages. The material used in floating floors is thinner than materials used for subfloor attachments. Similarly, these can prove to be less durable and substantial if bought from the wrong provider so you’ll have to keep a close eye on quality when going for this option.
Ceramic tiles are another great choice for basement flooring. They are water-resistant and easy to maintain. The installation is easy as well, you can attach them to the building foundation. Usually, the foundation is made out of cement, so that the ceramic tiles can be placed easily.
Furthermore, there are many other subfloor options you can go for when installing ceramic tiles. These include plywood subfloors as well. When it comes to ceramic tiles, you don’t have to be concerned about moisture at all. However, if your basement is particularly prone to floods, installing a water barrier, or vapor barrier beneath the tiles is a good idea.
You can get raised tile options in ceramic material as well. This way, any external moisture won’t get absorbed through your flooring, and moisture from beneath can be easily cleaned out. A water barrier keeps the tile adhesives safe from getting damaged by the water.
Although ceramic tiles are better at water management than other materials, they’re not a great option if you’re going for DIY installation. That’s because ceramic tiles are heavy and hard to align. Therefore, you will have to hire some professional help, even if you’re placing your tiles upon a water barrier, to ensure a flawless installation.
Moreover, the water-resistance of your ceramic tile flooring depends on your attention to detail. The glazed surface of the tiles is fully resistant against water, but keep in mind that the unglazed surfaces are not. Thus, you will have to reinforce the grout lines and other unglazed surfaces with sealant before your flooring can become fully impervious to water.
Besides that, there is another great feature that ceramic tiles have to offer. If you have a cold, inhabitable basement, ceramic tiles are just the option for you. You can get radiant below floor heating systems installed beneath ceramic tile floors.
These heating coils keep the tiles warm, so they won’t feel too chilly. This way, you can use ceramic flooring to turn your basement into a playroom or gym as well. You can generate the warmth you need over ceramic flooring using rugs and carpets as well if you don’t have the budget for a high tech heating system.
The best part about ceramic tiles is that they are highly waterproof, easy to clean and maintain, and long-lasting. On the downside, they’ll feel cold on your feet without any heating mechanism, which will add to the expenses. However, if you’re looking for a long term solution in a flooding basement, this is it.
Epoxy Sealed Concrete Flooring
If you’re in need of a much more reasonable option, you can get your concrete basement floor treated with an epoxy sealant. That is called epoxy sealed concrete flooring. Epoxy sealer is a clear substance which turns into a sturdy, durable, and impact-resistant material upon application. You can simply apply it on your current cement or concrete floor.
Many brands offer colored epoxy sealants as well. Most people prefer the clear substance in its original form, pigments are added to cater to the client’s needs. If you want to go for the original version for your basement, it’s a great idea.
That’s because epoxy sealants tend to turn yellow if continuously exposed to UV rays. That means you would want to add color to the material id you’re applying it in the sunlight-exposed rooms of the house.
However, for the basement, the original, clear color would do great as it’s an entirely covered, interior area.
Epoxy cement floor sealers create a completely impermeable, water-resistant layer. The sealers cannot let water through, although it doesn’t let the concrete breathe as well, as compared to acrylic sealers.
This means your concrete basement floor will stay moisture-free. However, you will have to take precaution during application. Your concrete floor should be completely dry and void of any vapor transmission. Any wet condition might lead to untidy bubbles and blisters on the sealant surface, which won’t look good at all.
Epoxy sealing on concrete floors works better if you’ve put up a vapor barrier under your floor. This way, excess moisture does not interfere with the application and does not harm the appearance of the sealant even after long term usage. Similarly, it’s great for flood control in garages and basements where there minimum exposure to sunlight.
However, there’s a drawback to the epoxy sealing concrete flooring. They’re very slippery. This means if you’re turning your basement into a laundry room of kid’s room, you will have to add some anti-slip additive to the formula to keep you and your family safe.
Basement Flooring And Moisture Protection
As we mentioned before, basement flooring plays an important role in making your basement habitable. In this case, basement moisture is the main problem. Moisture-retaining flooring can cause the build-up of mold, mildew, and harmful bacteria. These harm your health and the overall environment of your basement in the long run if not controlled.
Judging Moisture Problems
The surprising part is, not all people know if their basement has a moisture problem. There are several tell a tale signs which can help you judge the extent of moisture development in your basement. These include foul odor, evident signs of mold, and rotting, decaying wood as well.
Using Water Proof Flooring Material
Flooring options like hardwood and fiberwood are out of the question when we’re talking about renovating a basement. These might look good initially, but they absorb moisture over time, which makes them expand and rot. The air quality in your room deteriorates due to this buildup. That’s why if you have a basement that floods up, you will have to go for water-resistant flooring materials.
However, your search does not end at this. Waterproof flooring material does not make a perfect choice. Some waterproof materials might be able to protect themselves against water only. This means, they won’t rot or disintegrate by moisture but may retain moisture and trap water underneath the surface, which is equally harmful.
Moisture Management In Basements
Now that you know the problem, is choosing a flooring option, the ultimate solution to manage the moisture crisis in your basement?
- First things first, you should identify the primary source of the moisture seeping into your room. If the source can be removed or controlled, you don’t have to spend a huge sum on waterproofing your basement. However, if it cannot be controlled, you should review the options you have next in line to regulate and manage the moisture in your basement.
- Secondly, you should work out if dehumidification is the solution to your problem. Create an air ventilation system to control the moisture in your basement. This helps reduce humidity and bad odor created due to wet conditions. However, if the moisture seeping into your basement is too much, you might end up harming your environment through dehumidification. It might dry up the air in the basement, which in turn, draws in more moisture.
- Thirdly, check if the interior membrane coating works for you. It’s a much less expensive option than getting an entirely new flooring installation, so you should rule it out first.
If your basement continues to flood after you’ve tried or taken these measures, then the best option for you is getting a fully waterproof flooring system.
Furthermore, you will find that water makes its way through the toughest waterproof materials as well. For example, you might see water puddles developing on the surface through the grout lines on your ceramic tile flooring. For this, you can easily mop up the puddles, or use shop vacs to suck the moisture up. Raised tiles and vapor barriers may also need cleaning beneath your waterproof floating flooring as they retain and trap water.
Controlling Basement Floods
Waterproof flooring is designed to protect your basement against moisture, but you might still be in trouble if your house floods up. In this case, your flooring may not be able to help you entirely.
Not to worry, even if your basement does get flooded despite the waterproof flooring, there are other options you can go for. Install a good drainage system to let the excess water out. Also, you can get a sump pump to push out the floodwater from your home. If you intend to fix your flooring or renovate it after a flood, make sure to reassess the plans before you do so to prevent further expense.
You’ve gone through this review, then you’re prepared to renovate your basement into a habitable, serene place. In a nutshell, the factors you should consider while getting the best basement flooring are your budget and purpose.
You should think about whether you want to recreate your basement into a living area, playroom, or a bedroom. The type of room you select will further help you decide if you need floating floors, floor tiles, ceramic tiles, or epoxy sealant.
Besides that, assess the moisture issues around your basement, and if it tends to flood. Taking all these factors into consideration will help you make an informed decision for the basement flooring for your home.
The tips and guidelines provided above for each basement flooring option will help you through your basement flooring renovation. Make sure you pay attention to all the anomalies before parting with your money, or you might end up making a huge blunder. Good luck!