Finished Basement Flooring:  Then and Now

December 22nd, 2009

Like all things these days, basement flooring has made some huge advancements from the past. What is being understood more and more often today, especially by basement waterproofers, is that these floorings simply do not work. Consider these points:

  1. Concrete is porous and absorbs moisture. Because of this, water vapor and a mineral powder called efflorescence continuously passes upwards through the floor and into the basement.
  2. Concrete is cold– made so by the earth around it.
  3. Most basements will eventually flood from the plumbing, basement windows, water heater, washing machines, or through the foundation.

If you have a basement finishing project in mind and want to install these products, think again. Basements remodeled with traditional materials, such as carpeting, linoleum, tile, and wood, are being ruined and ripped out every day. And this is a big investment– you’re not going to want to pay to do this again.

Linoleum Basement Flooring in [state]Then: Linoleum Floors

Linoleum flooring is a fast, cheap, roll-out flooring that is occasionally used for basement renovations. Because it’s so easy to install, many homeowners are tempted to grab a roll for their finished basement space. Of course, linoleum is not known for its beauty, and it would rarely, if ever, be someone’s first choice if price was no object.

While linoleum makes a fair cost-effective solution for upstairs rooms, it’s a terrible idea for a basement floor finishing. To be installed, linoleum must be adhered to the sub floor below. In this case, your sub floor is basement concrete, with moisture and efflorescence passing through continuously. This moisture and efflorescence works to break down the adhesives that bind the linoleum to the concrete, making its seal loosen, blister, and eventually fail. And if the adhesives use organic material, they’ll grow mold and mildew as they peel. Flooring designs that adhere to the floor- such as linoleum and paint, will always fail.

Parquet basement floor tilesNow: Wood-Design Plastic Parquet Floor Tiles

One great substitution for linoleum on the basement floor is to find a parquet-design basement floor tile like Total Basement Finishing’s ThermalDry Parquet Floor Tiles. They install quickly and easily, and they’re able to be used as soon as the installation is done. They’re more attractive and durable than traditional linoleum flooring, and because they install without glues or adhesives, humidity moving upwards from the basement floor will never cause them to peel or blister off your floor.

ThermalDry Parquet Flooring is made out of completely inorganic materials, so they’ll never support the growth of mold or mildew, and they’re much longer-lasting and more durable than linoleum. And if one tile is scratched, punctured, word, or otherwise damaged, they can be easily replaced- even by a novice do-it-yourself homeowner. Why settle for ugly linoleum flooring?

Stone Basement Floor TilesThen: Ceramic, Stone, and Marble Basement Floor Tiles

One idea for a basement floor that appeals to many homeowners is to add the time-honored beauty of stone, ceramic, or marble floor tiles to their finished basement. At a glance, this sounds like a great idea. However:

1. These tiles are installed with grout, which can grow bacteria, mildew, and mold and must be maintained annually.

2. The tiles bond to the basement floor, so they’re hard, cold, and unforgiving.

3. Removal of tiles from the basement floor is expensive and nearly impossible, as you’re trying to remove grout from cement.

Yes, they’re gorgeous. But don’t you also want a welcome environment, a warm surface underfoot, and the option to change your mind about your basement flooring someday?

Basement Flooring Tiles with Stone DesignNow: Tile-Design Basement Flooring for Basements

Instead of committing to a lifetime of hard, cold tiles made of stone, ceramic, or marble, consider installing equally attractive plastic basement flooring tiles. These tiles click together and install as a floating floor on your basement concrete. There’s no need to keep everything you’d stored in your basement upstairs for days while you wait for the grout to set- they’re ready to use immediately after installation.

Basement floor tiles like the ones provided by Total Basement Finishing rest on raised pegs, creating an air space beneath. This space ensures that moisture will not be trapped beneath, and it creates a thermal break, making the surface of the tiles 8-10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the cold concrete below. Their plastic design makes them more forgiving of falls and dropped items, and should you ever want to remove them- the can be pulled up easily, with no need to scrape away grout.

Wood Basement Sub FloorThen: Wood Basement Floors and Sub Floors

Wood finishing on a basement floor is among the worst possible finishing options there are. Wood soaks up moisture from the concrete floor beneath like a sponge, causing them to swell and buckle from moisture underneath- where dehumidifiers can’t reach it. If there’s ever a basement flood, water will be trapped in the wood as well. Mold can start to establish itself in a wood floor in just 24-48 hours, and once it’s begun, it’s expensive and difficult to stop it. We’ve seen hundreds of basements with ruined wood floors!

Height in a basement finishing plan is critical, and wood flooring doesn’t help. Wood basement floors take up as much as 3-4″ of head space, which is sometimes just enough to make the basement not code-compliant for basement finishing. And if your wood floors are ever ruined and need to be removed, you can bet it’s going to be hard to find a contractor willing to rip out your old, moldy, rotting lumber, drag it out of the basement, and dispose of it.

Wood Laminate Basement FlooringNow: Wood Laminate Basement Flooring

Admittedly, there’s nothing as warm, inviting, and attractive as a beautiful wood basement floor. However, there are options for basement flooring that can be installed without taking up several inches of your valuable head room, without being damaged by moisture, and without the risk of having to rip out and replace your basement floor should a basement flood occur.

Products such as Total Basement Finishing’s Millcreek basement flooring do just this. Warranted to be 100% waterproof, it won’t be damaged by a basement flood, and its design is more durable and long-lasting than a wood floor. Unlike a wood sub floor, Millcreek only takes 1/4″ of a basement’s head space, leaving you more vertical room in the finished basement. And because it installs as a floating floor, there’s no adhesives to peel, and removal of the flooring is easy in inexpensive.

Moldy Basement CarpetThen: Basement Carpet on Concrete or a Wood Sub Floor

There’s only one basement flooring material that soaks up moisture more than wood- carpet. When placed on a basement floor, carpeting pulls in moisture like a sponge until it’s completely soaked. One flooded basement, and you can count on a moldy, musty odor in your finished basement for years to come.

If a basement carpet is laid directly on the floor, then it’ll also soak up moisture and humidity passing upwards from the concrete below. And because it’s laying directly on the cold concrete, it’ll also be cold and uncomfortable underfoot. If it’s laid on a wood basement sub floor, then you have all the problems of wood floor- less head space, rotting wood, buckling wood flooring, and mold- combined with a moldy, rotting carpet. And because you’ve installed carpeting, you’re committed to a long, unbroken sheet on your basement floor. This means that any stain, tear, or worn spot is permanent- you’ll just have to live with it.

carpeted basement floor tilesNow: Inorganic Interlocking Carpeted Tiles

Instead of installing carpet on a sub floor or directly on the concrete itself, find a basement flooring option that will act as both a sub floor and carpeted surface. The ideal solution are ThermalDry Basement Floor Tiles.

ThermalDry carpeted floor tiles are a basement sub floor and finished floor surface in one. They interlock to prevent humidity from rising upwards into the basement, while they are completely waterproof and will not support mold growth. Should one become worn or damaged- for example, at the bottom of a staircase- they can easily be removed and replaced.

If you have your heart set on your own carpeting design- perhaps to match the space upstairs, [dealer] can still help. They offer unfinished floor tiles as well, which will stop humidity and keep your floor’s surface 8-10 degrees warmer than the concrete below. ThermalDry basement sub floor matting will double the life of your custom basement carpet!

Local Basement Floor Finishers

When you’re ready to finish your basement, our TBF dealers would like to help.  They offer FREE basement finsihing estimates, including a written quote, on-site design consultation, and free basement finishing book. Call or contact them by e-mail today to get started!

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