Basement flooring is one of the most common questions homeowners have about good home improvement decisions—and for good reason. The basement presents a combination of obstacles that rarely exist in other parts of the home. Between extraneous moisture, chilly air, and cost, finding the right basement flooring can, indeed, be a complicated process.
Issues in Basement Flooring
The general issue in any basement renovation is the same. You’re trying to create a bright, warm, living space out of a hole in the ground. It’s somewhat unnatural, sure, but hardly impossible. The lower you are underground, the greater the cold and moisture. Plus, flooring most often suffers damage from exposure to moisture, regardless of the area of the home. You may have already spent or will need to spend quite a hefty price simply to dry out and waterproof your basement, as it is, leaving precious little money in your budget for your basement flooring. While any basement flooring choice should speak to all three issues, your final decision may be influenced by your primary concern: the moisture, cold, or your budget.
For many homeowners, concrete basement flooring isn’t their first choice—simply the best one. For basements that have a concrete subfloor in decent condition, concrete staining can create a smooth, finished basement floor. The process of concrete staining transforms your floor into something altogether different than your outdoor patio or sidewalk. Guests may not even realize the floor is made from concrete. The biggest concern with concrete flooring is temperature. Finished concrete floors aren’t nearly as cold as outdoor, unfinished concrete, but they’re not as warm as carpet, either. If you’re concerned about cold floors but have a limited budget as well, you might consider area rugs for areas of foot traffic.
If you like the idea of hardwood flooring in your basement, it’s possible to install something very similar, but solid hardwood flooring is a disaster waiting to happen. Engineered hardwood flooring is a possibility, but an even better option is laminate flooring. Laminate flooring is viable flooring option in a basement area because most manufacturers offer a very dense and thin cushion that insulates and quiets down the laminate sound of an engineered product. Some manufacturers make foam products for laminates, too. Don’t think, however, that you can go out and buy the cheapest laminate flooring out there and make it work. Laminate flooring for the basement is specifically manufactured to withstand the moisture of the basement, and buying the wrong grade will lead to problems. Plus, if you do buy an inferior product, laminate flooring is notoriously difficult to repair.
Carpet for Basement Flooring
Carpet is another good choice over a concrete basement floor because it breathes to allow moisture emissions to escape from the basement floor. It has wonderful insulating capabilities and is a great value for the dollar. Another element to think about in regard to flooring is the cushion. A denser cushion insulates the room from the elements. The Carpet Cushion Council agrees that the weight of the cushion also prolongs the life of the carpet. That said, you probably don’t want to invest in the most expensive carpet out there, either.
Even as moisture escapes, some of it inevitably gets absorbed by the carpet. Even upstairs, you’ll probably need to replace your carpet every 10-15 years. Your best bet for basement carpeting is to buy a quality—but reasonably priced—product and plan on replacing at least every 10 years, if not more often.
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