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The beauty of hardwood floors is undeniable. Plus, hardwood floors have the benefits of being a better choice for people with allergies, durability, and easy maintenance. Because of this, it would be tempting to install hardwood floors throughout your home–including in your basement.

Unfortunately, if your basement floor is below grade (beneath ground level), hardwood floors may not be the right choice for the lower level of your home. Concrete basement slabs are porous, allowing moisture to migrate up through the slab. Over time, moisture and humidity will damage your floors, causing them to cup, swell, buckle and split. Even if the wood doesn’t appear affected, mold and mildew may be thriving beneath your flooring.

Radiant Heat

Another problem some homeowners will face is that of radiant heat. It’s wonderful to be in your basement in the middle of winter without having your feet freeze on the cold floor. Many homeowners install radiant heat to combat the problem. But the heat can negatively affect the wood and the adhesives used in the installation of your wood flooring.

New Construction

If you are involved in the building process of a brand new home, the builder can take your choice of basement flooring into account when the basement concrete slab is being poured. Porous backfill (gravel) should be used in the aggregate bed.

This allows for better drainage of groundwater, directing it away from the home (underground) or into a sump pump basin.

The concrete slab of your home should cure for at least 30 days before installing a subfloor. Always inspect your concrete floors, walls, and foundations for cracks and water seepage. This is important for two reasons:

  •   Preventing water damage
  •   Radon safety

A Waterproof Subfloor

Your basement floor can be raised using a waterproof subfloor made of interlocking plastic tiles, elevated on grids. These grids allow moisture to dissipate within the air space below the floor. It also keeps your basement flooring warmer than it would be if it were in direct contact with concrete. Flooring that must be nailed down doesn’t work with this type of subfloor.

When considering your options, you should consult with the appropriate professionals: foundation repair specialists, waterproofing contractors, and basement refinishing experts.

There is another solution.

Engineered hardwood floors can give you the beauty of hardwood with the moisture resistance of a laminate. The type of engineered hardwood you choose should be rated for below-grade basements.

What is Engineered Hardwood Flooring?

Engineered hardwood typically consists of three or more core layers of hardwood, plywood, or HDF that have been laminated together with high-pressure bonding. This gives the flooring more stability and minimizes the risk of moisture and heat damage.

Then a veneer of hardwood is glued on top of this core surface. This is what differentiates engineered hardwood flooring from laminates. The veneer of engineered hardwood contains the natural characteristics of your choice of hardwood.

Is Engineered Hardwood Flooring Right for You?

Engineered hardwood can give you the look and feel of hardwood flooring in conditions where hardwood flooring wouldn’t otherwise be an ideal choice. Do you have questions about installing flooring in your basement? Are you wondering if engineered hardwood flooring is right for your home? Contact us today to find out more!