Hardwood Floors In Basements
Should you consider installing hardwood floors in a basement? The answer is yes and no. Generally, most people that have basements may also have wood floors above and wish to match the same look. For instance, many existing homes in northern climates have traditional 2 ¼” red oak strip flooring above basements in the main living area.
Often the preference is to have the same flooring installed below, but solid ¾” hardwoods have never been a good idea for basements or what is termed below grade (subfloor being below the soil line). Basement cellars are notorious for moisture problems that often stem from outside influences. Solid wood flooring that comes into contact with excessive moisture or water often changes shape by cupping or crowning. Often no fixes are available. Rain water that seeps through the foundation etc.
2 1/4" Engineered Strip Flooring
In my scenario above, the Jones’s have their heart set on the same type of flooring for below as they have in the rest of their home. With solid hardwood being ruled out because of the adverse effect it has with high moisture content, a safer alternative is an engineered strip floor that can be glued to the concrete, providing all concerns with moisture are addressed. Several prefinished flooring manufacturers offer an engineered 2 ¼” strip product. Another alternative would be an unfinished engineered that can be sanded and finished on site.
Floating Floors Are The Best Option
Floating floors are probably best suited for installations in basements, providing proper moisture barriers are used. Damage incurred in basements with moisture problems are generally from moisture seeping in from below the subfloor or through walls. Common procedures for floating installations with vapor barriers are not only below, but up walls, helping protect floating floors better.
There are numerous ideas with engineered flooring for basements today, just as there are for other areas of the home. It doesn’t have to be the same as the top floor.
Checklist For Basements - Prevent Failure!
Previously mentioned is moisture that can play havoc on any hardwood floor. Precautions to take would include having a full time dehumidification system in place, and or a sump pump and drainage system in the case of more troublesome basements that may see more moisture than others.
Mentioned previously, moisture generally comes from rain water runoff that can seep through walls that aren’t sealed properly or not sealed at all. Problems can be as simple as keeping rainspouts free of debris and adding extended spouting systems (water shoots) that take water away from basement wall perimeters.
Exterior sealing takes place when the home is built where liquid sealers and or membranes are applied to the outside basement walls. The application of these systems is never a guarantee for a dry basement. Interior applications can provide more peace of mind. These systems actually drive any potential moisture into newer interior drainage systems. One product that comes to mind is Water Guard. Finally any potential moisture intrusion is either pumped from the basement and or collected from a dehumidification system.
Older concrete slabs can also be troublesome. Regardless of the age I would recommend slab sealers for added protection. You can see more information on types of slab sealers to use and avoid here.
Image Source: Contempobasements.com