Deciding on the basement flooring is always a big hassle. Be it underground or ground level, the moisture and humidity level in the basement is high compared to other areas. So, a moisture barrier is necessary for basement flooring. But the look matters too.
Considering all factors, hardwood flooring for the basement remains a popular option for ages. But, hardwood flooring has several limitations including minimal water resistance, you may be in a dilemma. Also, I understand that finding a replacement for hardwood flooring is tough as its elegance is incomparable. So, is it wise to choose basement hardwood flooring or not?
To solve all your confusion and dilemma, I am here with the article explaining A to Z about hardwood flooring for the basement. Reading this article would help you know different aspects that would assist you in decision-making. Know the facts, learn the pros and cons, and then decide whether to install hardwood flooring in the basement or not.
So guys, hang in there!
3 Steps To Install Hardwood Flooring In The Basement:
Installing the hardwood flooring correctly is a crucial part. If installed carelessly, the planks would get damaged easily. The seams should be even and the underlayment has to be proper to get long-lasting service.
Here, I will tell you how to install engineered hardwood in the basement. As engineered hardwood is the most common and safe option, I am focusing on its installation.
Therefore, let me tell you the simple steps of installing engineered hardwood flooring in the basement:
Step 1: Preparing The Subfloor:
First, clean the base. Wipe off the surface well and dry it. Now, if the surface is of concrete, you would need to use a dehumidifier layer on top of it. This is for extra safety as it would prevent moisture from touching the wooden floor.
On the other hand, if the subfloor is of plywood, you can directly glue or nail the hardwood flooring on it. To install the dehumidifier layer, you can glue them to the concrete. Now use tuck tapes to attach the seams of the paddings.
Don’t overlap each pad over another. The dehumidifier layer has to be flat and smooth. Now the subfloor is ready. You can clean it once for caution.
Step 2: Planning The Installation Design:
Remember that the wooden planks should be distributed evenly throughout the subfloor. The seams of each plank should not make a straight line. Also, the pattern should not be uniform. The positioning may look random but actually, it is how you can evenly distribute the planks.
Choose the longest wall of the room. This would be the direction of positioning the wooden planks. Now, place the longest plank and then, side by side, keep placing the other planks. Don’t glue or nail them now.
First, plan it out. See if it is going well or not. You can even draw on paper to decide the positions of the plank. Check if all the planks are being adjusted well on the floor or not. If not, you would need to trim the planks to adjust them.
Step 3: Glue Or Nail The Planks:
Use a top-quality adhesive to glue the planks on the subfloor. Apply the glue through the seams of each plank and place them carefully on the subfloor. Press it a bit on the ground so that the adhesive sticks to the subfloor.
Start from one end of the wall and end to the other end of the wall. Now similarly, glue the planks in a row and then start with the next row.
The same goes for nailing the planks. Nail each plank on the subfloor and then move to the next plank. If you use the click-lock mechanism, it is even easier. Just attach the planks to each other to create the floating floor on the subfloor.
Suitable Subfloor Ideas For Basement Hardwood Flooring:
For your information, let me tell you that the subfloor plays a big role in deciding the hardwood flooring. Different subfloors support different types of woods. Not all underlayment can support all woods. Besides, the area of the basement also determines how you can use hardwood flooring.
So let’s take a look at the different types of underlayment in different areas (underground or ground), and how to use hardwood flooring in each case.
Plywood Subfloor On The Ground Floor:
The safest option for you is when the basement is on the ground floor with plywood underlayment. The moisture level is low on the ground floor and the plywood subfloor handles all types of wood.
Starting from hardwood planks to engineered woods, you can install all types of woods on the plywood subfloor on the ground level. The installation methods are flexible too. You can choose to nail the woods directly on the plywood which is the cheapest way. Else, you may glue them or use the click-lock system to attack the planks.
Plywood Subfloor Under The Ground:
When the basement is underground, the humidity level and dampness are high. In this case, you should not use solid hardwood flooring in the basement. This is because solid hardwood gets damaged easily in damp conditions. It swells and shrinks, distorting the shape.
However, you can use engineered hardwood in this case. Engineered hardwood is crafted especially that consists of different layers. These layers offer better moisture resistance compared to raw hardwood flooring.
Besides, you can nail the engineered hardwood on the plywood to get classy hardwood flooring in the basement.
Concrete Underlayment In The Underground Level:
A concrete subfloor is common in the basement. The concrete subfloor is durable and offers favorable support to the wooden floor. In the case of a concrete subfloor on the underground level, you have to go for engineered hardwood for maximum protection.
Make sure that the concrete subfloor is flat and polished. If it is uneven, installing the hardwood would be a hassle. Also, it won’t be long-lasting. Besides, you can adhere the hardwood planks on a concrete floor if the surface is leveled.
Otherwise, you would need to use the click-lock planks that would act as a floating surface. However, either way, it is always better to level the concrete for a flat and finished hardwood flooring.
Concrete Underlayment On The Ground Level:
On the ground level, you can install both engineered or solid hardwood flooring. But there is one condition. If you install solid hardwood on the basement, it would require a plywood subfloor beneath it. The concrete subfloor won’t suffice.
You may install a ¾” plywood subfloor if you like to install solid hardwood. However, the extra height of the plywood may become a problem for some of you. In that case, you would have to go for engineered hardwood.
Engineered hardwood can be installed directly on the concrete slab. But if the flooring is uneven, choose the click and lock mechanism to create a floating floor. If the subfloor is leveled, you can glue them on the underlayment.
These are some common conditions that you need to think of while choosing the hardwood flooring for the basement. Consider the underlayment and the level of the basement, and then choose the flooring.
Issues With Installing Hardwood Flooring In Basement:
Installing hardwood flooring in the basement is not an easy task. You need to take precautions as well as install the planks perfectly. Otherwise, the hardwood flooring would not be leveled or last for a long time. This is why knowing the issues can help you perform better.
Here are a few issues that you may encounter:
- As the flooring is damp and humid, you have to dry the base before installing the hardwood.
- The subfloor has to be flat and level before installing the hardwood planks. So subfloor installation is an important part too. If the subfloor is uneven, the chances of warping and damage would increase.
- Installing the planks should be perfect. If there remains any gap between the planks, moisture can come up and damage the flooring.
- Water leakage is a common issue in the basement. So before installation, the leakages should be repaired. Otherwise, the installation would be a hassle.
- Nailing or stapling is the common installation process that is way more complicated than gluing. As gluing may not be long-lasting, these options are chosen. But these installation methods require expertise and perfection.
These are the issues that you may need to face.
Advantages and Disadvantages Of Hardwood Flooring In The Basement:
Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of using hardwood flooring in the basement can help you make a better decision. Knowing the perks and odds would make you alert and conscious. Also, you can take precautions if you know the odds.
Here are the advantages of using hardwood flooring in the basement:
- Hardwood flooring is versatile with excellent aesthetic value. In fact, no other flooring can replace the beauty of hardwood flooring.
- If maintained properly, hardwood flooring is durable and long-lasting.
- Hardwood flooring can match with all types of basement interiors.
Now let’s come to the disadvantages:
- The extreme moisture level in the basement is threatening for the hardwood flooring.
- Regular maintenance is required to keep the flooring intact.
- Installing hardwood flooring in the basement is difficult as nailing and stapling methods are commonly followed.
- Hardwood flooring is a costly basement flooring option.
Now you decide whether hardwood flooring is compatible with you or not.
3 Tips To Maintain Hardwood Flooring In The Basement:
There is absolutely no alternative to maintaining the hardwood flooring in the basement to make it last for a long time. As the moisture level is high in the basement, maintenance is mandatory. Otherwise, it would swell, distort, and discolor in a year or so.
Here are some maintenance tips for you to keep the basement hardwood flooring in good condition:
Tip 1- Keep The Floor Dry:
No matter what, cleaning and keeping the hardwood floor dry is mandatory. Both in damp weather and normal days, wipe the floor well and let it dry. If you don’t dry the floor, you would notice swelling and a wet surface. Besides, it would also encourage the growth of mold and mildew if the floor is wet.
Even if you fail to wipe the flooring every day, you must keep it dry. If ventilation is not adequate, place a powerful fan in the room and turn it on every time you feel the floor is wet. So don’t let the floor stay wet or damp. Clean it regularly and keep it dry.
Tip 2- Clean The Spills:
Though the subfloor is there to handle the spills, you must clean the spills immediately. This would prevent it from settling in the hardwood or reaching the subfloor. If it reaches the subfloor, it would slowly damage the entire flooring.
Wipe off any water, food, or chemical spills and dry the area well. This is a basic step to keep the hardwood flooring in the basement in good condition.
Tip 3- Repair Any Damage:
If you see that the planks are coming off the floor or the seams are uneven, something has gone wrong. Maybe the moisture is coming up from the ground or the installation was not done correctly. You may need to consult an expert to resolve the matter. But do that immediately. Otherwise, the damage can be huge.
If you see any major or minor damage or fault, call a mechanic and see the issue. He may change a plank or check for any water leakage. Any such incident can happen in the basement that can cause moisture exposure. So check and repair it to avoid any huge damage.
These are pretty much all that you need to do to keep the condition of the hardwood flooring.
Related Questions About Hardwood Flooring For Basement:
Can You Put Hardwood Flooring On Concrete Basement?
It is possible to install hardwood flooring on the concrete subfloor in the basement. Concrete basements are stable enough to support hardwood flooring.
The only concern is that the concrete has to be smooth and even to place hardwood on it. If you wish to directly install engineered wood on the concrete, it has to be leveled. Only then can you glue the wooden planks on it. Otherwise, install a plywood subfloor and then place the wooden planks on it. So prepare the concrete subfloor before installing hardwood flooring.
What Is The Cost To Install 1000 sq. ft Hardwood Flooring In The Basement?
While considering the cost of the hardwood flooring, you need to calculate the cost of the flooring materials and the labor cost.
In total, the cost of the flooring materials and labor cost of installing 1000 sq. ft hardwood flooring would fluctuate between $6110 to $10,150. Most people spend around $8000 to get the flooring materials needed for a 1000 sq. ft area.
However, the pricing would vary depending on the wood being installed in the basement and the process of installation. For example, nailing the plank is the cheapest installation method.
Do You Need A Subfloor To Install Hardwood Flooring On The Basement?
Though many may say that subfloor is not mandatory, I would always recommend installing a subfloor before placing the planks.
A subfloor acts as extra protection to the hardwood flooring. As basements are usually damp, the moisture can easily affect the hardwood flooring if there is no underlayment.
If a solid subfloor and a dehumidifier are placed beneath the hardwood flooring, the dampness won’t reach the hardwood flooring easily keeping it intact. This is why it is always the best idea to place a subfloor before installing hardwood flooring in the basement.
Alternatives To Hardwood Flooring For The Basement:
Okay, so if you still don’t think that hardwood flooring is not a good choice, let me propose some alternatives. You can try out an option from the other alternatives.
The most common alternatives are ceramic tile, vinyl tile, and laminate flooring. All of them are available in wooden texture, color, and versatile patterns. Ceramic and vinyl tile are extremely sturdy and water-resistant and easy to maintain.
Laminates are comparatively thin, sleek, and modern but better than hardwood in terms of moisture resistance. They all have excellent decorative value.
So if you are finding an alternative to hardwood flooring, you can try these options on the basement floor.
Is It Wise To Install Hardwood Flooring In The Basement?
Using hardwood flooring in the basement depends on different factors. These factors should be scrutinized before deciding whether using hardwood flooring in the basement is a good choice or not.
However, the straight answer is you can put hardwood flooring in the basement. But if the basement is exposed to extreme moisture and there is a chance of damp condition, it is not wise to choose hardwood flooring for the basement. Also, some basements are just above the foundation causing water leakage. This is another condition when you must not choose hardwood flooring.
Nevertheless, if the basement is minimally exposed to moisture and humidity, you may go for hardwood flooring. But still, maintenance remains a concern. We will discuss that later. For now, yes, you can install a wooden floor in the basement if the moisture condition is minimal.
You have a complete idea about hardwood flooring in the basement, how to handle it, and what are the other options. You have learned about the installation process too. Considering all the factors, now it is your turn to decide.
Read the article once again and decide whether to install hardwood flooring in the basement or not. If yes, go ahead on choosing the right subfloor and wood for your basement flooring.