Basement flooring ideas for homeowners
For most homeowners, keeping unwanted moisture at bay is the most important function of a basement floor covering. Excess moisture can seep up through the concrete, and if your basement floor plans don't anticipate this possibility, you might wind up with a warped hardwood floor covering or loosened tiles due to the decay of the adhesives that hold them in place.
Thus, before you consider the type of basement flooring that would be best for your home, you need to conduct a simple test to see if moisture is a problem. Get a trash bag and cut it into a square that's about 3 feet big on all sides; lay it flat against the floor, smooth it out so no air is trapped underneath it and tape it into place. Wait 24 to 36 hours, then check to see if any moisture has collected between the bag and the floor.
Floating Subfloors Keep Moisture at Bay
If your test results showed that you have excess moisture in your basement, you should consider adding a floating subfloor. Essentially, a floating subfloor is a bridge between your concrete base and the finished surface that will rest atop it. They're called "floating subfloors" because they aren't permanently attached to the concrete; instead, they're assembled and placed by hand.
Floating subfloors have two levels: a waterproof corrugated base and a plywood top. The base level shuts the moisture out, while the plywood gives you a level surface to finish as you see fit.
Options for Dry Basements
Even if your test proves negative, it's still not a good idea to finish basement floors with carpeting. Laminate flooring and hardwood flooring are also not recommended, since basements are subject to significant variations in humidity levels, which can trap mold in carpets, warp hardwood and cause laminate floors to bubble. Vapor guards will protect you to some extent, so be sure to install one if you have your heart set on one of these flooring materials.
Ceramic tile, porcelain tile and cement are better for basement usage. They advantage of ceramic and porcelain tile is that they can be installed directly onto your subfloor base, provided it's free of excess moisture problems. If you're strapped for cash but want to add a splash of color and style anyway, you can also stain or paint the cement subfloor.
Whichever basement flooring ideas and options you choose, remember that you're making an investment in your home. Done properly, a quality basement floor can add value to your home while making it a more inviting place to live and visit.