Tackling Cold Floors in Your Basement Renovation

Basement flooring

Planning for a basement renovation involves a long list of decisions and troubleshooting. How can you make that area bright and comfortable? Are the windows large enough to create bedrooms? Is there space for a bathroom? Cold floors are a common issue that homeowners face when looking to finish the basement. And the right design will eliminate this problem.

Why Are Basement Floors So Cold?

Basement floors tend to be at least a few degrees colder than upper level flooring, mainly due to the below grade location. The presence of moisture on your concrete subfloor also maintains a lower temperature, and that cold is transferred into the flooring above. Stop the moisture from coming through and you'll create a drier space below the flooring, which will translate into warmer floors.

Concrete is porous and naturally draws moisture from the soil through to the basement. That moisture creates prime conditions for mold growth and also leaves the space feeling chilly and damp. Even when weather conditions are fairly dry above ground the concrete continues to allow moisture into your home, creating a host of problems from mold to cold basement floors. Your basement renovation needs to tackle the problem.

Often a lack of airflow in your basement increases the cold atmosphere. Be sure to include fresh air vents and registers in your basement renovation plan to keep this area dry and comfortably warm from the floor to the ceiling.

Insulate the space between the cold ground and your flooring. Block moisture from contacting the flooring material, and opt for flooring features that help to maintain a higher temperature.

How To Reduce Moisture and Humidity Under the Floor

Some people go through several steps to create a drier subfloor in their basement. It helps to seal the concrete with a quality clear coat first, although this measure alone will do little to reduce moisture. Always be sure that the concrete is completely clean and dry before applying this product, and repair any cracks in the concrete subfloor.

Closed cell underlayment is often used directly on concrete floors to provide the cushion and moisture protection required in this part of your home. This product is made from polypropylene and uses a combination of moisture barriers and air pockets to effectively insulate the space.

Closed cell underlayment comes in several different thicknesses and colors. Ask the flooring retailer for the underlayment that best suits your chosen flooring, but all products made with the closed cell design provide superior moisture protection and comfort.

If you've opted to install a plywood subfloor over your existing concrete foundation, a sheet of poly may provide sufficient vapor barrier. Be sure to overlap the poly at the wall and use tape to seal any joints. The idea is to create a barrier between the porous concrete and any organic products, like plywood, carpet, or wood flooring, which will absorb that moisture.

Should You Avoid Hard Surface Flooring?

Some people prefer to install carpet in the basement, in order to provide a warmer surface for bare feet. Hard surface flooring such as tiles and hardwood keep your feet chilly, especially when located in the basement. The question of whether or not to avoid hard surface flooring is up to you.

Remember that carpet can be harder to keep clean and often contributes to allergies. Carpet also has the shortest lifespan, lasting an average of eight years depending on the brand and style. Tiles, on the other hand, can last for decades, while a good quality hardwood can look good for seventy to eighty years. All types of flooring are subject to damage when exposed to moisture.

Using hard surface floors with a quality underlayment will provide the durability you want without those unwelcome cold floors. Plan to include a high quality closed cell underlayment in your basement remodeling project and you can safely install floating engineered wood floors on top for a comfortable, classic appeal.

Tiling can be installed directly on to the concrete, but you will be left with cold floors. Dampness may not seep through the tiles, depending on the quality and the type of glazing used. Tile floors are ideal for use in the bathroom or any bar area, but for your living space it's best to install wood or laminate with moisture-barrier underlayment.

The Basics of Heated Basement Floors

Heated basement floors provide a superior level of comfort in this space. They also help to reduce the dust mite population by driving the little critters to the surface of your flooring where they can be quickly vacuumed away.

The heat comes from an electric mat installed between the subfloor and flooring. It replaces the closed cell underlayment, and won't give you the cushion or flood protection that those products offer. However, when covered with thinset and your chosen flooring product, heated basement floors create a cozy and warm space.

Many systems can be controlled through a thermostat, which may or may not be programmable. This allows you to turn off the heating at night while you're sleeping, or during the day while you're away from the house. With a programmable thermostat you can wake up or come home to an invitingly warm floor in the lower level.

The heat does not become unbearable, and often dries the moisture and radiates a minimal amount of heat up to the floor above. Heated floors are safe for children and pets and when installed properly, will not present a fire hazard in your home. They do require electricity and are often wired directly into your panel board.

Are you dealing with cold floors in your basement renovation? You need to reduce or eliminate the moisture between the floor and subfloor using a poly vapor barrier or closed cell underlayment, depending on the style of flooring. It's a good idea to seal the clean concrete first and be sure they are no gaps at the wall where moisture can seep in. Use tile floors in the bathroom, but opt for floating wood floors in the living area for optimum comfort. With the right design your basement renovation will create a warm living space that eliminates cold floors entirely.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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