How to Install Durable Basement Wood Flooring

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Curious about how to install hardwood flooring in a basement? It’s no secret that homeowners love wood flooring. It’s hypoallergenic, natural, durable, and has a high-quality look. That’s why many homeowners want hardwood floors in their basements.

However, hardwood can be a fickle material. How do you install wood floors in a basement? How do you keep a basement hardwood floor in good shape? Are there secrets to installing a wood floor in a basement?

Wood Flooring and Basements

Natural hardwood looks and feels amazing, but is best reserved for above-grade living. Featuring Mazama Hardwood – Handscraped Tropical Collection – Maple Walnut
SKU: 10061331

Hardwood floors have an unmistakable quality and ease that homeowners and craftsmen love. It’s an easy material to work with when you know what you’re doing, and when well-maintained, it can be a durable and lasting floor choice.

There’s no shortage of hardwood flooring benefits. However, hardwood floors have some downsides, too. Namely, wooden floors are incredibly susceptible to water and moisture damage, and there’s a lot of extra moisture in a basement.

In fact, a whopping 98% of basements will experience some type of water damage in their lifetime. If there are hardwood floors in the basement, there are going to be some issues.  

When hardwood floors are exposed to moisture, it can result in:

  • Staining
  • Cupping
  • Crowning
  • Buckling
  • Rot
  • Mold

All these problems can be problematic and costly to repair. For these reasons, basement wood flooring isn’t a great idea, it’s just a recipe for disaster.

However, homeowners don’t have to give up their hopes of a hardwood floor. Several alternatives can mimic the look of wood, without the potential problems.

What are the best faux wood floors for a basement?

Features of the Best Below Grade Flooring Options

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There are several features you need to take into consideration when determining the best below grade flooring type:

Waterproof

Basements will often see a lot of water. Below-grade flooring can absorb water from the ground and transform it into vapor. This is one reason why basements are notoriously moist and damp. During rain, they can become wet or even flooded.

The most essential component of basement flooring is that it’s moisture resistant. It needs to stand up to moisture and remain intact.

Hard Material

There’s a reason carpet in the basement isn’t a great idea. Carpet can usually withstand minor leaks. However, the padding beneath the carpet will absorb water, causing it to deteriorate over time. It’s possible to have carpet or other soft materials for basement floors, but it isn’t practical.

Carpet breaks down over time with moisture exposure and is more susceptible to mildew, so the best below grade flooring is going to be a hard material.

Synthetic

Any organic material is going to be susceptible to mold and mildew growth. That’s not only a health hazard, but it can also result in rot and deterioration of the flooring. When dealing with basement floors, it’s best to stick with synthetic materials.

One Single Surface

Whether people are talking about real hardwood flooring for a basement or engineered wood flooring for basements or any flooring type in between, there’s going to be a lot of talk about subfloors. Subfloors are the layer (or layers) beneath the flooring.

In a basement, the subfloor is concrete. However, depending on the flooring type, subfloors can also refer to a layer between the concrete and floor. It can refer to a vapor barrier or underlayment, too.

When choosing a flooring type and figuring costs, it’s best to find flooring types that don’t need tons of subfloors. Instead, opt for those that require one single surface.  

Ability to Install Directly on Concrete

You will want to find a flooring type that installs directly onto concrete. Carpet and hardwood are two options that cannot be installed directly onto concrete, which can reduce both your options, and your budget.

The Best Alternative to Basement Hardwood Flooring

(Pexels – image source)

Taking all of the information into consideration, what is the best alternative to wood flooring in basements?

Hands down, the best option is luxury vinyl tile (aka LVT) which is a flooring type that is a high-quality, synthetic, waterproof material that can be applied directly on to concrete.

Unlike genuine or engineered hardwood in a basement, luxury vinyl tile won’t warp when exposed to water. Plus, it can mimic the look, function, and style of hardwood floors without all the headaches.

Achieve a rustic basement look with realistic, wood-look vinyl. Featuring Vesdura Vinyl Planks – 2mm PVC Peel & Stick – Sterling Collection
SKU: 15136004

Unlike linoleum and laminate, LVT is completely waterproof. The other two types of flooring are simply water-resistant. They’re also not as durable. The only other contender is ceramic tile, which is a good choice, but it’s very cold underfoot, a much harder install, more expensive, and it can’t mimic the appearance of natural wood.

The clear winner and only option for durable basement hardwood floors isn’t hardwood at all. It’s a luxury vinyl tile.

How to Install Luxury Vinyl Tile

Vesdura Vinyl Planks – 2mm PVC Peel & Stick – Sterling Collection 
SKU: 1516004

Installing luxury vinyl tile is a very straightforward and DIY-friendly process.

Step One: Prepare the Floors

Ensure that your surface is level and free of debris. Remove any existing floors, level the concrete, clean the floor, and measure and plan how you’re going to lay the LVT.

Step Two: Install the Floor

  1. Choose the board direction. The planks should run parallel to the longest run of the basement. Start on the left side and move right. 
  1. As a note, many types of LVT already has adhesive, so you can peel and stick, saving tons of hassle.
  1. Make sure to place the back end against the starting wall, and bend the board while you place it so that one end is against the floor and the other is in the air.
  1. Roll the board onto the floor, and press the board down to the ground with your hand. 
  1. Most LVT have lips that jut out. Place each board on top of the lip, so the floor fits together perfectly, like a puzzle.  

For detailed instructions on installing luxury vinyl tile, check out our in-depth guide: How to Install Vinyl Flooring  

Use BuildDirect For a Wide Selection of Luxury Vinyl Tile Flooring

Luxury vinyl tile improves the style of your basement without sacrificing durability and moisture-resistance. Featuring Vesdura Vinyl Planks – 6.5mm SPC click Lock – Harbor Collection
SKU: 15270559

If you’re ready to use luxury vinyl tile on your next project, you’ve come to the right place! We have a wide selection of high-quality LVT that can’t be beat. Check out our full line of luxury vinyl tile here. But before you go, a quick question.

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