Moisture typically seeps through the concrete and eventually weakens the adhesive bond causing hardwoods to buckle and allowing for mold on carpeting. Therefore, hardwoods and carpets are not generally recommended. Basements tend toward varying levels of humidity creating a myriad of issues on these types of floors. Basements which are treated for moisture problems can still experience unwanted seasonal moisture or additional problems associated with excessive rainfall.
An alternative to hardwoods and carpets for your basement is engineered flooring. An engineered floor is comprised of 3 to 5 layers of hardwoods with a high density core of fiberboard. Due to the layering, engineered floors possess a strong resiliency to changes in humidity and moisture. Additionally, engineered flooring is surprisingly thinner allowing for extra insulation if needed.
Another viable option for your basement is laminate flooring. Laminates consist of a core which is usually moisture resistant, a durable backing, and resin based melamine or aluminum oxide surface and clear layer of aluminum oxide finish which serves to strengthen the surface and resist scratching. Although most laminates are ideal as they “float” and do not directly adhere to the sub-floor, be sure to check with your flooring contractor to ensure the type of laminate you have chosen is appropriate. Although many laminates resist moisture well, some do not; and laminate flooring is particularly difficult to repair if it buckles or warps.
Ceramic or porcelain tile can be used if you have conclusively determined that moisture is not an issue in your basement; however, be aware there are a host of installation issues which can present themselves when applying this type of flooring. Hire a professional to ensure your flooring choices are suitable and installed properly.
Despite the flooring of choice, installation which takes place below ground requires a great deal of attention to detail; specifically when preparing the sub floor. Considering the variety of issues which can occur in a basement flooring scenario, it is well worth the extra investment to insure your flooring is installed correctly and reflects the beauty within your home.