Wood floors in a basement = crazy?

cowbell9August 11, 2006

We have been in the house for about 4mths and we are about to redo the basement. There are no signs or odor that would indicate any current or past problem with water. Also we have had extensive rains in our area since we moved in and there has been no water seeping through.

The basement is only partially underground, it has an entrance in the back. I don't know if this maters or not.

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Even without seeing evidence of water, any moisture that gets up through concrete, which is porous, has to be considered. That would likely get into the wood and cause problems.

I just looked at a job with a damaged wood floor over concrete in a so-called "dry" ground floor condo. The floor was only 8 months old. It was cupped and basically ruined, with the faint odor of mold and mildew.

Without flooring, moisture evaporates and it might look really dry. But cover it up, block evaporation and then you'll find out how dry it really is.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 12:24PM
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I've successfully had it and its done quite often in homes with walk-out basements than full walk-up basements. If you do do it, its usually during during construction and not after the fact. It's usually concrete slab, moisture barrier, then subfloor (usually like advantech or even ply on furring strips) and finally hardwood floor. With ours it has a full floor dehumidifier running to remove any excess moisture from the basement floor.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 11:36AM
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I wanted wood floors in my basement (totally underground, but big windows). The flooring guys said I would have to put a sub floor down first. Since my floor was very level, they suggested I do a wood parque floor. I picked out the pattern and had it installed and finished and stained to match my upstairs floors. I did that in my bar downstairs and on the landing area to separate the stairs visually from the carpet in the basement (2 colors). I have had it down for about 8 years now and it still looks great. No warping and nothing looks different. I will say I live where we never have rain, and when we do, it is a monsoon! We have never had leaking in the basement, so make sure of that, but it can be done.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 12:15PM
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Maybe if you put a Dri Core subfloor in first.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dri Core

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 10:52AM
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I don't think its crazy at all. I like warm floors.
I live in Minnesota where winters are very cold.

I would even consider a laminent if it will be used as a play area. They're not as easy to scratch like a natural wood floor.

Where are you from?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 9:10AM
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WOW thanks for all the replys. our house is in Brooklyn NY. The weather here can be extreme - lots of snow and rain or like a tropical swamp. We are still on the fence about the flooring but I think we are going to go with the wood.
Thanks again for all the feedback

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 3:27PM
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Here is what I did:
- I first tested the concrete floor for moisture evaporation by taping 2ft x 2ft sections of thin plastic (e.g., polyethylene, plastic painters tarp, etc) over the concrete, ensuring a air-tight seal is made around the perimeter of the plastic sheet. Did this in several different areas of the concrete slab. Left the sheets in place for 24 hours or so, and did not observe any moisture evaporation (i.e., non trapped under the plastic). If you have moisture trapped under the plastic, then the following procedure may not be the best solution for your basement. Also, if your basement is prone to flooding, FORGET H/W FLOORS!
- After completing/passing the moisture test, painted entire concrete slab with concrete sealer (Behr 1-Part Epoxy Acrylic Concrete & Garage Floor Paint, available at Home Depot).
- After sealer has dried for a couple of days, proceeded to lay a foundation of 1 x 4 treated lumber laid out flat (on 4" side) in a 2 x 2 grid that will need to be glued to the floor using ample amounts of construction adhesive. (NOTE: The treated lumber is used just in case any moisture finds its way through the concrete sealer, and the lumber will not rot if this happens. Keep in mind that even if the above moisture test passed, and a sealer was applied, cracks can still appear in the slab over time, and moisture can find its way through these cracks.) The grid will need to accommodate ¾" x 4 x 8 sheets of sub flooring. With the 1 x 4Âs are laid flat, the 2 x 2 grid is stronger than having the standard 16" on-center spacing using for the joist of most residential floor systems. I used the grid layout for additional strength to support items such as a pool table, etc. Be sure to leave at least ¼" gaps (for expansion) between ends of wood sections and around the perimeter of the room and room walls. If your concrete floor is uneven, you will need to either shim the 1 x 4Âs to make them level or use a floor leveling product to make the concrete slab level. I used stacked bricks to hold down boards that were slightly crooked until the constructive adhesive dried (over night). This will help you keep the floor reasonably level, assuming the concrete surface underneath is reasonably level.
- Next step is to add your 2nd layer of moisture protection, 6 mil polyethylene sheeting, which can be stapled on top of the 1 x 4 lumber. Ensure you overlap the edges by 4 to 6 inches and that the overlap sections are stapled onto a 1 x 4.
- Next step is to add 3/4" sub-flooring. I used the Advantage tongue and groove product sold by Home Depot. This stuff is better than layered plywood and other OSB type products I have seen. It costs a little more, but it simply stands up to moisture better and appears to be stronger than the alternatives. I used 1 ¼ inch decking or galvanized screws to secure the Advantage to the 1 x 4Âs.
- On top of the above, I installed Alloc laminated flooring, which is a floating floor that is much better than the stuff sold at Home Depot and Lowes. It is easy to install compared to hardwood floors, and in my opinion is much more durable. Just Google "Alloc" to find a dealer near you.
- All of the above may seem extreme, but I feel 100% confident that no moisture is going to make it through the concrete and into the laminated flooring. The floor is very study, does not give, and is quieter than my ¾ inch Brazilian Cherry flooring installed on the main floor above.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 4:28PM
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