A Wood Floor That Can Survive Anywhere
In a basement or on a slab, create a stable platform to support quality engineered-wood flooring.
Synopsis: Creating extra living space in your house doesn’t necessarily mean building an addition. Many basements are viable options for conversion to livable space. To make a subterranean room feel even more homey, you can install a wood floor — which isn’t such a crazy idea if you use the method Charles Peterson outlines in this article. Peterson, a wood-flooring expert, recommends a system built in layers: first, the concrete slab; second, a layer of 15-mil polyethylene vapor retarder; third, two layers of 1/2-in. or 5/8-in. exposure-1 plywood; and finally, the finish flooring. This article includes a sidebar about choosing the best engineered flooring for a basement or slab project.
If you need more living space but don’t want to move, you’ve got a couple of options. Either you can build an addition, or you can put the space you already have to better use. The latter option often means finishing the basement. It’s a good option, too, because it can cost a fraction of what an addition might cost. Also, the basement is isolated from the main traffic paths of the house, so it’s an ideal setting for entertaining guests or relaxing with the family.
To me, nothing makes a basement feel more finished than a wood floor. It adds a sense of warmth and refinement that drastically changes the utilitarian feel of a space at or below grade. However, basements — and any concrete slab, for that matter — are notoriously moist, and moisture is responsible for more than 90% of all wood-floor failures. Installing a wood floor in a basement or on a slab so that it looks good and will last means controlling moisture, assembling an appropriate subfloor, and choosing the best engineered-wood flooring you can afford.
A floating subfloor is the best option