Laminate Floors in a Basement
LESLIE: Randy in North Dakota is calling in about flooring. What can we do for you today?
RANDY: Well, I got a – in my basement, I want to replace the flooring that’s down there right now; it’s carpet. And I’d like to put laminate flooring in there but I’ve talked to several different people – installers and what-not – and some say it’s OK to put it in and others say don’t put it in because it’s going to absorb the moisture and warp.
RANDY: I’d like to get your take on that.
LESLIE: Well, Randy, you can’t get in a worse situation than you already are in with carpeting down in a basement. Carpeting is like the worst choice for a moist environment because it’s going to absorb all of that moisture that’s coming up from your concrete floor underneath and it’s going to stay in there and it’s going to get in all those fibers and in the padding and that is mold food. So right now, you’re dealing with possibly a respiratory issue down there because of the carpeting on the moist surface.
A laminate is the complete opposite. It’s fabricated from materials that don’t warp, that are resistant to moisture, that won’t grow mold; so it’s perfect for the basement environment. Now, the issue is you’re in North Dakota. It gets quite chilly there, so your floors are going to reflect that.
TOM: Yeah, and there’s an underlayment that goes under most laminate floors that can help a little bit. It gives you a tiny bit of insulation and will make them a little bit warmer. But it’s a very stable product for a basement.
In a basement, you can certainly use, obviously, a vinyl or a vinyl tile or a sheet product; you can use laminate. There is also a type of hardwood floor that you can use in the basement, too. It’s not traditional, solid hard wood; it’s called engineered hardwood, Randy, and it’s made up of multiple layers of hardwood – kind of like plywood, where you have alternating layers of wood that give it that dimensional stability. So laminate is a good choice, as is engineered hardwood, for a basement floor.
LESLIE: Now Tom, at this point, could he put out a radiant flooring heating mat, if you will, to go underneath the laminate or the engineered hardwood; just because it does get so cold up there?
TOM: Potentially, you could. It would have to be an electric radiant heating system, which is kind of expensive but the good news is you only have to run it when you’re using the basement.
RANDY: Well, we use the basement quite a bit, so …
TOM: Is it heated down there now, Randy?
RANDY: Yeah. Yeah, it is. We’ve got the baseboard water heat; hot water.
TOM: Well, then you’re in great shape. I would go with the …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, you’re going to be nice and toasty.
TOM: Yeah, I would go with the laminate. No concerns whatsoever.
LESLIE: And you know what, Randy? You can always get big, plush, beautiful area rugs to warm your tootsies on. That will not be a problem because you have the laminate in between.
RANDY: Oh, OK. Alright. Well, I thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Randy. Good luck with that project.