We are finishing the basement level of our home and are looking for something other than carpet for the flooring. What alternatives are there?
By Scott Balentine
Special to The Star
There are several options that work wonderfully for use in a basement.
Laminate flooring is a good substitute for carpeting because its durable, resilient and relatively resistant to low levels of moisture. It is easy to install most are interlocking planks laid from one side of the room to the other and cut to fit at each side wall. Most will require some type of moisture barrier to be installed, such as a thin foam or building paper.
Laminate flooring comes in a variety of colors, textures and finishes.
Another good choice is engineered hardwood. It must also be installed over a vapor barrier to avoid absorbing too much moisture. Many can be installed over foam or paper type barriers, but there are also adhesives available that are troweled directly onto the concrete.
You can get engineered hardwood flooring in almost as many finishes, textures and colors as solid wood flooring. Laminates and wood floors offer a warmer-feeling floor than other hard surfaces.
Installing solid hardwood on a basement slab isnt recommended because of the risk of water damage. If the basement takes on water, it is likely that the flooring will have to be replaced rather than repaired. Be sure you have a dry basement or properly functioning sump pump if you want to consider these types of floors.
Stone, porcelain or ceramic tile can also be used in a basement. Tile can be installed directly onto the concrete slab and is very durable. Tile is sold in a variety of textures, colors and finishes. There are even tiles manufactured to look like hardwood. Tile is also easy to clean and maintain.
Additionally, tile is almost impervious to moderate moisture exposure when installed properly. One drawback is that tile is a cold surface, particularly when installed directly on concrete.
Finally, there are luxury vinyl tiles that work well. We recently finished a basement project using a 16-inch-by-16-inch vinyl tile and it looks beautiful. It can be installed directly on the basement concrete like conventional tile but has a slightly softer or warmer feel.
The vinyl tiles come in a variety of colors and finishes that closely resemble stone. Vinyl floor tiles can be a good alternative to stone or porcelain tile and offer a softer surface similar to that of laminate or engineered wood.
Scott Balentine is owner of Lifestyles Custom Homes & Remodeling in Overland Park.