The Right Floor for Your Basement
The issue with basements is moisture. Moisture comes in two types.
- Water can seep into the basement through cracks, poor flashing, etc. This can cause puddles or even standing water.
- While concrete appears solid, it is actually quite porous. Water vapor easily passes through concrete. Think of this moisture as “humidity” that comes through the concrete. Many people believe they do not have a moisture problem in their basement because they do not see standing water. But water vapor IS a moisture problem. When the floor is covered with a non-porous material, this water vapor can accumulate. It can develop high water vapor pressure that is stronger than the glue holding the flooring to the floor. Then your flooring is loose.
Testing may be necessary to be sure the amount of water vapor coming through your floor does not exceed certain levels.
Rating Flooring for Basements
- Excellent. Carpet is an excellent choice for many basements, as long as you don’t have standing water. Carpet breathes, so water vapor cannot develop high pressure. This choice seems counter-intuitive to many people, but it is the right answer.
- Very good. Ceramic tile is a very good choice, and will also handle occasional standing water. The tile must be ceramic, not porcelain. Porcelain is not porous enough and the tiles will come loose in environments with high vapor pressure. The grout should not be sealed in this application.
- Very good. Loose lay vinyl plank allows water vapor to escape from the edges of each plank. Loose lay vinyl plank can handle vapor readings of up to 10 lbs.
- Good. Floating vinyl click flooring can handle vapor readings of up to 6 lbs.
- Fair. Glued down vinyl plank flooring can handle vapor readings of 3 to 6 lbs, depending on the product.
- Fair. Sheet vinyl and linoleum can handle vapor readings of 3 to 4 lbs.
- Very Poor. Wood flooring. Wood and moisture do not mix. Moisture will cause rot, decay, warping, and deformation of the wood. Even wood installed with moisture mitigation systems have very high failure rates and are not recommended.
- Very Poor. Laminate flooring. Laminate flooring is a wood based product, and has all the same issues as wood flooring.