The Best Flooring Options for a Basement in New England
Choosing a flooring option for your basement is a matter of both style and practicality. While you may love the look of wide plank oak floors, for example, their susceptibility to moisture (and the tendency for basements to be damp places), means that you'll likely have to save that choice for elsewhere in your home.
Living in New England also presents a special set of circumstances for basement flooring. Floors must withstand extreme heat, extreme cold, humidity, potential water seepage, and more. So what are the best flooring options for a basement in New England? It depends on where you live and the kind of home you live in. Here are a few popular flooring options, and the pros and cons of each.
There are many advantages to choosing porcelain tile as your basement flooring. For one, there are thousands of style options to choose from, from to wood look tile that mimics the look of hardwood floors. The major downside to tile floors in the basement of a New England home is that they tend to get extremely cold in the winter. If you choose tile flooring, you'll also want to leave room in your budget for area rugs that will cover a good portion of the room, or for installing heating coils below the tile.
If the idea of cold feet in the winter makes you shiver just thinking about it, carpeted floors may be a better option for your home. Carpeting adds a plush, insulating layer to concrete floors. Enhancing the cozy feel: the moisture barrier, sub floor, and rug pad you'll want to install over the ground to protect the carpet from dampness and the elements. It will act as a extra layer of insulation, too.
Bamboo is becoming an increasingly popular flooring option for its eco-friendliness, sleek look, and durability. Bamboo makes a good choice for the basement because it's a naturally water resistant material, and therefore isn't prone the moisture absorption that causes hardwoods to warp and rot. Overall, it's an excellent choice for homeowners looking for a natural material that's still resilient.
Engineered wood flooring is a great option for those who love the look of hardwoods but want something that's a bit more durable. It's made by gluing layers of wood an wood veneer together, making it more durable. Engineered wood is also a good option for homeowners who are planning to install a floating floor.
Pro Tip: If you're a new homeowner or you've recently remodeled, remember that newly poured concrete needs at least two months to completely dry and cure before a new floor of any kind can be laid on top of it.
Laminate flooring has come a long way in the last decade. You can now find high-quality laminate wood flooring that is visually comparable to the real thing. Laminate has a few advantages over hardwood, in that it's less expensive, yet more resistant to environmental factors. Laminate can also be installed over a sub floor or floating floor.
As we mentioned, hardwood floors are often not an ideal choice for basement flooring because they can absorb moisture, which can lead to warping and deformities. If you still prefer hardwood over any other flooring option, the only way to install it is by first installing a subfloor. It will be more expensive than laying directly over the concrete, but a subfloor will protect the hardwoods from any moisture in the concrete, as well as extreme temperature changes.
The Bottom Line.
In general, when choosing a floor for your basement, the deciding factor will be the unique characteristics of your home. If you're in a flood zone, tile might be the only practical way to go. If you live in a dry area and your basement is only a few feet below grade, hardwoods might be an acceptable option. Consult a flooring specialist or your local design build firm for further recommendations.