Concrete Plans

By Mark Donovan

March 16, 2016 4 min read

Deciding on basement flooring can be challenging. A basement floor is simply a slab of concrete that rests on the ground. Consequently, the surface is very hard and is subject to moisture wicking up through it. This moisture can lead to mold and mildew growth if not quickly and properly removed from the basement. The following are flooring options to consider when planning a finished basement.

*Epoxy Coating Basement Floor Option

First, it is important to decide on how you plan to use the basement. If it is simply going to be used for storing items, then an epoxy coating applied to the surface of the concrete basement floor is the ideal option. Epoxy coatings are resistant to spills (e.g., oil spills) and make the job of cleaning and vacuuming much easier. Epoxy coating is also inexpensive, relatively easy to install and comes in many color choices.

If you plan to have a finished living space basement, then ceramic tile, wood, laminate or carpeting maybe a better choice.

*Subfloors

If you are opting for wood, laminate or carpeting you may want to consider installing a wood subfloor over the concrete basement slab and adding insulation.

To build a wood subfloor, first place a sheet of polyethylene plastic against the concrete slab. This will act as a moisture barrier. Then place a grid of 2-by-4-inch pieces of lumber laid on their flat sides. In between the 2-by-4s, install rigid foam insulation. Finally, install plywood over the grid of 2-by-4s and insulation. The carpeting, laminate or wood flooring can then be installed over the plywood.

*Carpeting as a Basement Flooring Option

Carpeting can be a good choice for a finished basement, because it can add a layer of insulation that helps make the basement feel warmer. It can also make the finished living space feel cozier. However, it is again critical that there are no moisture issues in the basement. Moisture wicking up through the concrete slab and onto the underside of the carpeting will quickly lead to mold and mildew growth underneath the carpet. If basement floor moisture tests indicate there are no issues with water wicking up through the concrete slab, then a wood subfloor is not necessary. The carpeting can be applied directly onto the concrete slab.

To test the basement floor for moisture simply tape down a few small pieces of plastic to the concrete basement slab, and check them 24 hours later. If you see beads of moisture underneath the plastic, then you need to come up with a permanent solution to eliminate the moisture.

*Wood Flooring

A wood floor is a viable alternative if installed right. If not done right, you'll end up wasting your money: The wood will become damaged by mold and mildew growth and/or the boards will warp and swell. So before installing a wood floor, first test the concrete for moisture. Again, if there is a moisture problem, come up with a permanent solution before proceeding with the installation of a wood floor. And install a wood subfloor, regardless of whether there is moisture detected.

*Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is a low-cost alternative to wood flooring. It is also a relatively easy DIY project. However, like a traditional wood floor, a moisture barrier and a subfloor should ideally be first installed over the basement concrete slab.

*Ceramic Tile Basement Idea

Ceramic tile is ideal for a basement, as moisture wicking up through the basement slab is less of a concern. Ceramic tile is also easy to maintain and clean, comes in a plethora of colors, shapes and styles, and is a viable DIY project. It's especially ideal in a basement bar area.

Mark J. Donovan's website is at http://www.homeadditionplus.com.

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