Flooring options for 101 year old basement

kawamidaSeptember 26, 2012

About to start basement reno in our 101 yo urban semi. Concrete in not great shape (old paint flaking, a little uneven). 6.5 ft ceilings only. Tight budget. Basement living area's function will be multipurpose: teen hangout, occasional guestroom, man cave/chick cocoon, yoga/workout room.

To date (10+ yrs in this house) no serious water problems down there. But our neighbours all have some moisture issues and we are only a few blocks from Lake Ontario, so wall to wall doesn't seem like the best idea.

My husband wants tile directly on the concrete (COLD! we're in Toronto). I'm thinking patch up & paint concrete and lay a low pile carpet w/ bound edges and no underpad on top. Minor marital strife ensues.

Would love to hear ideas for economical flooring that won't eat up inches of height. No sub-floor planned. Electric underfloor heating planned for bathroom only, not living space. Thanks all!

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We faced very similar issues with our very old house, uneven concrete floor, possible intermittent moisture, low ceilings. And comparable marital discord.

Our basement floor was very uneven, and so I ruled out tile becuase it cracks unless you lay it on a very flat surface. (This might be something to point out to husband?)

Anyway, I researched forever and we ended up going with vinyl planks-- Allure from Home Depot. (I imagine that if the evil orange hasn't yet infiltrated Canada, there is something comparable up there?)

I was wary, but 6 months later, we are both still quite happy with it. It went down very fast (DIY) with no tools, has since withstood a minor flood (washing machine), and looks kind of nice, actually. It is thin, and I didn't do any floor patching, so in the few places where there were major imperfections, you can feel it through the floor, but it doesn't bother me. Also, it's a bit cold, but a few cheap throw rugs fixed that easily.

Good luck with your remodel!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 4:49PM
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alkibeachkirsty, we are 24 hrs orange up here. In fact, "Home Depot" was one of the very first things my wee son learned to read years ago because of the big orange logo! (that and "ice cream truck")

Will scope out vinyl planks asap. What colour (note Canadian English spelling) did you go with?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 9:28PM
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I love it! My husband is from London so I have ties up that way myself. (For anyone else who stumbles across this thread- that's London, Ontario, not the other one)

But about the floor-- we went with "wild cherry". I was aiming for something not too light and not too dark, that would work with the paint color. Here's a photo. (Sorry it's blurry and has kids running through it, it was the only one I have.)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 5:19PM
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alkibeachkirsty, your kids are gorgeous and so is your basement. I'm heading to Home Depot today to check it out. Thx for the marriage counselling! This might just do it.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:40AM
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Just saw your post on another basement flooring thread, alkibeachkirsty, and noted you had water on the Allure already. Glad to hear it wasn't too bad... is everything all dry and still mould free now? Did you have to lift up the floor to check for moisture, etc underneath?

I'm also wondering, the concrete floor in my basement is not level where it meets the walls. Seems to curve upwards uniformly at the wall, which is annoying... any idea whether this might prevent us from installing Allure vinyl? Thanks!!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:50AM
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Ah yes, the flood. Actually, my curiosity was piqued after writing that post, so I peeked at the concrete last week. It's totally dry now. Maybe this is an upside of having a massively sloped floor? We left a good size expansion gap at the edges and so I think the moisture just evaporated over time- the heat from the dryer probably helped too.

HD makes an Ultra(?) Allure that is thicker, but the cheap Allure that we used is thin and pretty flexible- I could flex the planks into a "C" shape.

Our floor slopes all over, too. I just put a desk against one of the walls down there, and things roll right off of it. In a few places where the floor is really, really uneven a couple of the joints have separated. (This might also have been installer error, since I didn't roll it all that carefully after we installed.)

I think that if I used a hair dryer and some extra adhesive I could probably get it perfect, but to be honest, I can't be bothered.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:37PM
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Oh! And thanks, we like the basement, and the kids. ;)

I realize I have been susie sunshine about this product- so to clarify: given the price, ease of installation, and amazing water impervious-ness, we have been very pleased.

I could see why someone might be dissatisfied with this product in a formal living space or bedroom though.

There was a faint offgassing plasticy smell the first week or so. (I can't smell anything now) I can see shiny streaks where we've dragged things across the room. And like I said, some joints have popped loose here and there.

So it's not perfect--but it works for us!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:50PM
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If you are simply going for a change in looks, why not paint/stain the floor. May be about the same time involved as laying a floor but would be cheaper. We had an epoxy floor covering put in and although it was time consuming we love it. The durability cannot be beat as we use our basement for storage and small living area. My home is 138 yrs. young with the basement being near 100.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:53AM
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Hi vineyardflute! That is also intruiging, I had thought of painting and then just getting a rug for the sitting area. Do you know which product was used on your basement floor? Colour?

alkibeachkirsty, hubby has nixed vinyl flooring, though the HD price is unbeatable. He really really likes tile because it lets the concrete underneath breathe... Have to let him win sometimes, you know!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:22AM
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vineyardflute, one more question... any idea the life span of the epoxy floor. Does it need to be redone regularly?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:31AM
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Kawamida, I know what you mean- sometimes winning is not actually winning, so fighting isn't worth it.

I saw a photo of someone who had epoxy painted their garage (to make it a workout room), and it was gorgeous.

I would think if you have a pro tile your floor (or if you're good with leveling compound and use smaller format tile) it could work. Perhaps a quote and advice from a reputable tile guy would help with your decision?

Otherwise, I think your idea of carpet makes sense. Inexpensive carpet tiles might also be a flexible alternative to wall-to-wall.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 2:19PM
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