If you're working on creating a livable, finished basement, then you need to spend time thinking about the proper flooring material. If you choose the wrong type of flooring, then mold can develop and create an unpleasant and dangerous situation for you and your family. Basements are particularly tricky because you're dealing with a concrete slab. The concrete is porous and will allow moisture vapor to rise up. This is why it's important to choose the proper material. Below are three good options to consider for concrete basement floors.
If you want something soft and prefer a full carpet over a series of rugs, then make sure you choose a carpet made of olefin. This is a synthetic material that is excellent in areas where there is the threat of moisture. The material is known for its resistance to wear and tear, and also for its moisture resistance properties. It's not as soft as the plush carpets that you might use upstairs in your living room or bedroom, but it will not mold.
One option you might consider is laying an olefin carpet wall-to-wall in the basement and then using plusher area rugs in certain places, such as where you situate the couch or lounging chairs.
Flooring Tiles Designed With Built-in Vapor Barrier
These tiles are designed to deal with the problem of moisture. The underside of the tiles are made of a material (oftentimes PVC) that will not rot. They are designed so that a channel of air (and moisture) can run underneath the tiles. The raised design prevents the body of the tile from coming into contact with the floor. There will also be a vapor barrier material between the PVC bottom of the tile and the decorative top. The surface of the tile will mimic the look of wood or ceramic.
The advantage of individual tiles with a built-in vapor barrier is that you won't have to go through the trouble of spreading out a separate vapor seal beforehand. These tiles can go right onto the concrete floor. They are designed to be inter-locking, which makes them very easy to install.
If you want a really nice looking floor with a high-end material, then look into using ceramic. This material is vastly superior to wood or engineered wood when it comes to moisture. You can set the tiles right onto the floor unless you live in a very cold area where the temps drop down below freezing during the wintertime. If that is the case, you will want to put down cement board or another synthetic underlayment on top of your basement concrete floor. This will help prevent the mortar used during the tilling process from cracking during extreme temperatures. If you do use a cement board, make sure to lay a vapor barrier between it and your concrete floor. This will prevent the underside of the cement from rotting.
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