Updating your basement or choosing a flooring material for a new one means taking a lot of things into consideration, especially if you are going to invest in wood. Determining what to choose for hardwood flooring for a basement is a complex question, and it can come at a considerable portion of your budget.
You need something that will stand up for a lifetime, and stay beautiful to keep your home value up. We’re going to cover the major considerations, talk about the best basement flooring options, and see if there are better options for your basement. Let’s get started with some basics.
Basement Floors 101
The first thing to consider is whether or not you should install a hardwood floor at all. Some concrete floor basements are wet, using a sump to remove water tiled from under the space to a hole in a corner. Others may even have areas where groundwater comes in the walls.
Some basements will be a living space or for kid’s bedrooms, and yet others as a rented space. What you will be doing in that space will partially determine the best hardwood floor for a basement. The basement itself determines whether or not you should even consider wood.
Damp, Wet, or Musty Basements
If you use a dehumidifier just to stave off mold and major humidity problems, have water problems seasonally or continuously, or have a sump in your basement, hardwoods aren’t for you. If you absolutely need that look, though, there are other options that can get it for you.
For concrete floor basements with even occasional water problems, you should not use wood flooring. Though if you use underfloor systems that are designed for the conditions, you may be able to use manufactured wood flooring, which is more moisture resistant than solid hardwood but gives a look you want. To understand the difference read our solid wood vs. engineered wood flooring comparison guide.
If your basement is wet or has moisture problems, your best choice is actually wood laminate floor. That offers you the very best in resistance to the water issues, as well as durability in damp environments. The plus side to this is that it is also the most inexpensive choice.
Dry or Nearly Dry Basements
If your basement is “nearly dry” with only very rare moisture issues, or you have elaborate under flooring systems designed to move water away from flooring and keep things dry, you may choose manufactured wood. However, if the issues are consistent, we suggest using wet flooring options.
Engineered hardwood floors utilize a multilayered design with a plywood core that is more resistant to moisture damage than solid hardwood. The surface of the flooring is a beautiful slice of the wood you chose, meaning more flooring can be made from the same hardwood tree, and less cost, as well as greater durability and often a more stable plank than hardwood.
If your basement is dry, then you can use hardwoods. Choose a color that will stand up to the way you will use the room, like oak, maple, or cherry. You can stain these woods in many ways, from light to dark, to match the decor in the space.
Lighter finishes open up smaller spaces and can help brighter up darker rooms like basements. They are also more modern in appearance — though, the lighter the floor and higher the shine, the more it will show dirt and debris. If you choose a more rustic look, go with a darker stain.
When it comes to the shine of the floor, you’re going to want to go with satin instead of a high gloss. That helps hide the dirt and dust between cleanings, so your room always looks nice.
The Bottom Line
Many basements are wet, at least seasonally, or more humid than is safe for keeping a wood floor at it’s best throughout its lifetime. Because of that, in most cases, you will want to use wood laminate flooring, or for less moist spaces engineered wood.
However, if you have a dry basement, you can choose oak, cherry, or maple, and enjoy a beautiful hardwood floor that will last and last. Choosing the right polish can also help ensure your flooring holds up over time.