Wood flooring looks great in every room, so why not install wood floors in a basement? Before you rush out for new flooring, there are things you should know about wood basement flooring options.
First of all, and most importantly, solid wood flooring is not recommended in a basement. Unfortunately, moisture seeping through the concrete slab can warp and damage solid wood flooring. Fortunately, there are other wood floors—or look-alike wood flooring—that add warmth and durability to a basement.
Best DIY wood floors for a basement
Handy DIYers, there are three types of wood floors for a basement. All of these basement flooring options are fairly easy-to-install, easy-to-clean, and durable.
Engineered hardwood is manufactured in layers. The top layer is wood and the bottom layers are plywood. The construction keeps the wood layer away from moisture in the slab. Some engineered wood floors have top layers of wood thick enough to be refinished.
These wood floors for a basement are available in the same varieties as solid wood, including oak, maple, and walnut. Engineered wood floors come in wide and narrow planks in almost any color stain. Some engineered wood floors come in easy-to-install varieties that snap or click together. (Ask a flooring pro to see these products when buying wood floors for a basement.)
In general, engineered hardwood floors are as durable as solid wood flooring. Spills should be promptly cleaned up to avoid staining and damage. Engineered hardwoods are easily cleaned with a dry mop and manufactured-approved cleaner (which should be used to avoid voiding the warranty).
Of all wood floors for a basement, engineered hardwoods are one of the most difficult basement floor installs. Some engineered wood products are designed for an easier install and can be fitted together. When shopping for wood floors for a basement, tell a flooring professional that the floor is a do-it-yourself project for a basement.
Like engineered wood, laminate flooring is also manufactured in layers. Unlike engineered hardwood floors, the top layer is not solid wood. The bottom layers are plywood so they are good basement flooring options. They are also durable and closely resemble solid wood flooring.
Laminate floors come in almost every style and color. They do not require staining, and require little maintenance over the life of the floor. Laminate floors need a regular sweep or vacuum (choose a vacuum that won’t damage wood flooring) and occasional dry mop.
These floors are prone to water damage when spills occur. For that reason, all spills should be promptly cleaned up and laminate should not be installed in rooms with high humidity or frequent spills.
For DIYers, laminate floors are incredibly affordable and one of the easiest floors to install. Installation only requires a few tools. Many of the planks snap together, making the install a careful but fairly quick process.
Luxury vinyl is not made with wood, but modern luxury vinyl floors are made to closely resemble them. They are available in styles in almost every different color, and resemble wide and narrow plank wood floors. Because of the wide variety of styles available, these floors fit perfectly with almost every decor. While they may resemble wood flooring, luxury vinyl is water-resistant and not prone to water damage.
Their water-resistance makes them the perfect combination of beautiful and durable. Luxury vinyl floors only require a regular sweep and vacuum and an occasional dry mop. They can also be installed over radiant heating in a basement (with these tips for LVP over in floor heating).
Some luxury vinyl plank floors are designed for DIYers and snap together. When purchasing, ask a flooring professional if the luxury vinyl floor should be installed with an underlayment. The ease of installation and finished product make them an excellent wood floor for basements.
Tips for installing wood floors in a basement
- Make sure the basement is waterproofed as much as possible to minimize the chance of flooding (and damage to flooring).
- Read manufacturer instructions to see if an underlayment or subfloor is required before installing.
- Always bring in floors to acclimate to the space for 36 hours before installation.
- Check to make sure the slab is level before installing.
- When installing, leave an expansion gap so floor does not cup or buckle. Check manufacturer instructions for the recommended expansion gap.
- If radiant flooring is installed, check the manufacturer instructions to ensure that it can be installed with a wood or vinyl floor, and for the max temperature the thermostat should be set at.