Whether your basement is fully finished, partially finished or utterly unfinished, few other parts of your house offer as much potential to become something great. Think about it—a basement can be anything and everything from a cozy den with dimmable lighting and plush couches, to a lively entertainment zone filled with TVs, games and a wet bar, to an entirely self-sufficient residence in and of itself, with bedroom and bathroom space, kitchen or kitchenette and, if it’s a walk-out, even possibly its own entrance.
Whether you’re thinking about refinishing, finishing the rest or being the first to finish the basement in your home, you’ll have a lot to consider once you decide what you’re going to use the space for. One of the biggest decisions you’ll make, however, is what type of flooring you’ll want to go with.
There are many things to consider when choosing the right flooring for your basement. To help make it all easier to digest, here’s a few of the biggest considerations you’ll want to make.
Your floors are ‘graded’ but not with As, Bs and Cs.
The different floors in houses and commercial buildings are described in relationship to whether they’re “above-grade” or “below-grade.” Below grade simply means that the space is beneath ground level, either partially or in full. Above grade is everything else, including additional stories.
Different materials are designed for above-grade and below-grade applications, so when planning a basement renovation project, it’s important to always be sure you’re selecting products designed for basements.
Your finished basement’s worst enemies: moisture and humidity
Moisture and humidity can be a perpetual problem for basement floors, so it’s best to prepare for the worse. Because basements are underground, they are prone to flooding, whether you live in a designated “flood zone” or not. You should always assume that at some point during your ownership of your house your basement will floor and prepare for it before it happens.
But it’s not just flooding you have to worry about. Moist and humid air is heavier than dry air, and it tends to sink to the lowest part of your house—your basement. There, warm, humid air can come into contact with relatively cool surfaces, such as the common concrete slab floor, which causes condensation. Also, particularly in older homes, moisture can seep into the basement through cracks in the foundation and exterior walls.
Materials that deal really well with moisture and humidity include natural stone, ceramic and porcelain tile, as well as luxury vinyl plank flooring. Steer clear of hardwood or engineered hardwood, as those materials will swell in high humidity, which can lead to cracking and warping.
Your less-than-level basement floor
You’ve probably never pulled out a leveling tool to see how far off from plane your basement floors are, but you can almost guarantee that in anything other than the newest homes there’s going to be some slope to your basement floor.
It’s crucial that before you put down new flooring to inspect your existing concrete floor and make adjustments for any noticeable slopes or flaws that might damage the new floor or make it appear anything less than perfect.
Once you’ve leveled your basement floor, you can then easily patch minor cracks with an elastomeric sealant for concrete.
Basement limbo: how low can you go?
If your basement is like most, the air ducts for your upper levels are attached to your basement ceiling. To determine the total ceiling height you’ll end up with, you’ll need to consider the thickness of the flooring you’re installing.
Even fractions of an inch can make a dramatic difference in room height, so if you’re dealing with low-hanging ductwork, plumbing or electrical you’ll really want to focus on the thinnest possible options, such as luxury vinyl plank flooring which comes as thin as 1/16th of an inch.
How much clearance you already have in your basement is also going to determine what you do with the ceiling. If you’re working with seven feet or more, a drop ceiling allows access to all the elements you’ll be covering up with it. If you don’t have enough space for a drop ceiling, or even if you do but prefer a more modern, industrial look, you can paint everything a single color using a paint sprayer. Black makes all the infrastructure almost disappear but creates the illusion the room is smaller than it actually is. White reveals more but makes for a much brighter, more vibrant look.
Man cave or manicure studio?
Finally, what you’re ultimately going to turn your basement into will impact your decision on what type of floor to use. If you’re converting some or all of it to a workshop, you’ll need a durable option, such as natural stone or luxury vinyl plank. If it’s going to be easy-going relaxation space that doesn’t get a lot of heavy traffic, you can choose just about any material you like, so long as it’s suitable for a basement.
Whatever you decide to turn your basement into, there are flooring options available for every style and budget. So don’t think just because you’ve got your heart set on natural stone that you’ll have to spend a fortune to install it (although with stone you most certainly can).
Ready to convert your basement into the workshop, entertainment zone or living space you’ve always wanted it to be? Call or email Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers today for a free consultation. We know you only want the best in flooring. That’s why it’s important to hire the best in the business, and at Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers, we can guarantee you that’s us. Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers have been flooring and remodeling Kentuckiana for over 30 years. Our certified installers have the ingenuity and know-how to assist you in choosing the perfect floors for your home. Don’t take matters into your own hands—let us guide your next project.