Tips and Tricks for Warm Floors in Basements

Space—the final frontier... Often it’s no farther away than a flight of stairs leading to an unfinished basement. Because basement floors are below grade, careful attention has to be paid to choosing the right flooring option. For one thing, whatever flooring option you choose, will be installed over a concrete slab. Which raises questions about moisture infiltration and floor temperature.

Carpet, laminate, engineered wood and ceramic tile are good choices. Laminate and engineered wood offer underlayments that insulate and keep moisture out. On the other hand, solid wood can warp and buckle if moisture permeates up from the concrete; some resilients find this environment hostile, ask your sales associate about luxury vinyl tile and planks for below grade installations.

Whatever flooring option you have installed, the basement has to be dry. Vapor barriers and/or moisture sealing compounds on concrete walls and floors are a must. In older homes, it’s a good idea to have a contractor check the condition of the slab before you have flooring installed.

Cold floors can be a problem because the temperature of the slab will be approximately 55 degrees F., the temperature of the earth under it.

Carpet will be the warmest on the feet when installed with cushion, known as carpet pad. Both have good insulating properties. For short loop pile carpet, use a low-profile cushion –the industry standard is 3/8-inch thick.

Thicker cushion—7/16-inch or more is intended for use with thick pile carpet.
When used with short loop carpets however, it can cause the carpet backing to stretch and eventually wrinkle. Using the wrong cushion can void the warranty on your carpet.

You might also consider placing cushion under your prized area rugs which are displayed over your hardwood or tiles floors. Remember, not all cushion can be used over in-floor radiant heat.