Wood Sub Flooring makes for Rotten Basement Remodeling

July 11th, 2011

By Jacques Bouchard

Too often, general contractors who complete a basement finishing will design a house with the same plans that were used for the rest of the home. To accomplish this, they design basement ceilings and floors with drywall, creating a large white box in the basement. While not especially creative, it does give area a uniform look- it looks just like a room upstairs but without big windows. Of course, in a basement, a drywall ceiling will make access to pipes, wiring, ducts, and other utility lines difficult and will be ruined in a plumbing leak….

Perhaps one of the most unfortunate general contractor practices, however, is what is done with the basement floor. Expensive wood sub floors and beautiful plush carpet is laid on the floor, creating a beautiful, soft, and warm floor. Sounds great, right?

Unfortunately, this is doomed to failure. If carpet or wood is laid directly on a concrete basement floor, a home improvement disaster is looming on the horizon.

The issue is clear: concrete is porous. The dirt that was filled in after your home was built is looser and less densely packed than the untouched earth around it. This dirt tends to fill with moisture and collect more densely than anywhere else around the home. If you have moisture in the earth surrounding your basement floor, the concrete will sponge the moisture up and through the concrete, releasing it into the basement in the form of water vapor.

As this moisture passes through the basement floor and into the home, it collects on anything lying directly on the basement floor. When wood sub floors or carpeting are placed on these surfaces, they’re going to collect moisture and grow mold, mildew, and rot. These conditions will lead to mold spores, dust mite waste, and foul smells as these beautiful carpets and wooden flooring materials decay. Within a few years, the damage will be more than could be standed, and the whole finished basement floor must be torn up and replaced.

To install a basement finishing system that won’t need replacement in a few years, follow these two rules:

Rule 1: Wood flooring in a basement is always a bad idea. Whether moisture is coming from the concrete, from a plumbing leak, or is flooding directly into the house from a foundation problem, water WILL reach the basement floor in time. In a mere 48 hours, mold will start to grow, and if you have wooden floors, there’s no easy way to dry them out. At best, wood basement floors and wood basement sub floors are a risk- at worst, they’re an enormous and expensive problem!

Rule 2: If you’re going to install carpeting on the basement floor, be sure to install a plastic vapor barrier underneath beforehand. Thick pile carpet is a great way to have a soft, warm, safer floor in the home. These carpets absorb sounds and make the naturally quiet area even more so. The area will be warm, inviting, and perfect for children. However, if it’s installed without a vapor barrier, this enjoyed benefit will be disappointingly short-lived as mold and mildew take hold.

Before finishing the basement, be sure to fix your wet basement problem and that you’ve planned for the best basement finishing plans on the market. If you’re looking for the best basement flooring on the market, Total Basement Finishing’s award-winning ThermalDry floor matting is the best thing on the market to install on your concrete basement floors underneath the carpeting. ThermalDry Basement Floor Matting not only creates a waterproof barrier on the floor to protect the carpet, it will also add a layer of insulation to the basement floor that will make the surface of the floor as much as ten degrees warmer than before. Additionally, our floor matting takes only 3/8″ from the head room of the basement, as opposed to the 4″ that wood sub floors can use. The material is designed to outlive several generations of wood. With its written warranty against mold growth and rot, what more could you want?

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