Can you install hardwood in a basement?

By
Home Builder with Floor Coverings International Westchester NY & Stamford CT WC19920-H07 HIC619252

Yes, hardwood flooring can be installed in a basement...as long as there is not a water nor moisture issue.

 hardwood floors in basements for Westchester NYIn Westchester County, many basements are below the ground and/or constructed directly on a concrete slab. As a result, many basements (especially in older homes) have water issues/leaks or they tend to have excessive moisture.  If you do have either of the issues, I would recommend that you stay away from hardwood as well as laminate flooring. Many customers mistakenly believe that laminate is waterproof...it isn't! And, often laminate will do even worse than hardwood will in a humid basement.  Instead, if you have moisture issues, you are better off using a waterproof or water resilient surface such as tile or vinyl.  


If your basement is below grade (i.e. beneath the ground) and you DON"T have a water issue, then you need to use an engineered hardwood (rather than solid hardwood). Some engineered hardwoods can be nailed or glued and others click into place.

Westchester NY engineered hardwood for basements

 

The choice among hardwood constructions depends on what type of sub-floor you have, the level of the basement and how even the sub-floor is.  The species does not matter.

  • a) If you have a PLYWOOD sub-floor AND you are on ground level, you are in luck. This means that you have a lot of flexibility in your wood choices. If you are on grade, you can select solid hardwood which can be nailed into the plywood as well as engineered hardwood which can also be nailed into the plywood. This is the best installation method and it tends to cost a bit less. From there, it really just depends on which wood you prefer (and your budget, of course).

 

  • b) If you have a PLYWOOD sub-floor AND your basement is below the ground, then you would need to install an engineered hardwood (solid hardwoods are not approved for below grade levels as there are large swings in temperature/humidity which can cause the floor to buckle and split. Engineered hardwood is designed in layers so that it can tolerate this better. You can learn more about engineered hardwood here: Is Engineered hardwood real? In this scenario with a plywood subfloor, you would generally be best off to have a standard engineered hardwood floor that can be nailed into the plywood.

 

  • engineered hardwood for basements in Westchesterc) If you have a CONCRETE subfloor AND you are below the ground, you will need to use an engineered hardwood (see above in paragraph b). If your floor is smooth, then you could install a regular engineered hardwood by gluing it to the sub-floor. It is critical that your floor is smooth and fairly level...otherwise the adhesive won't adhere well to the surface and could pop up. If the floor isn't smooth/level, it is important to level the floor (but this can get expensive). Alternatively, if your floor is fairly level but not smooth, then you could select a clickable hardwood that can be floated on top. You can read more about floating floors here: What is a floating floor? (Please note that if your floor is uneven, your floor can have a lot of movement - just like laminate does..and if it's very unlevel, you should either level it or select a different type of floor surface that can tolerate the unevenness.

 

  • d) If you have a CONCRETE sub-floor AND you are on the ground level, you have some choices pending your budget and how the home is constructed. The less expensive way is to install an engineered hardwood on top of the concrete (you can either glue it or float it (see above - paragraph C ).
    • oak hardwood floors basement westchesterYou also have the option of installing a plywood sub-floor (and then installing solid hardwood on top). Solid hardwood requires a plywood sub-floor. If there is enough room (i.e. height), then you can install a 3/4" plywood sub-floor. Altogether, you will be adding 1.5 inches to the height with the combo of the plywood (3/4") and the solid hardwood (3/4"), so it is important to check door heights and transitions, especially if you have any metal doors (which are very challenging to cut or replace). You should also look around the room to make sure there won't be other height issues (e.g. if you have cabinets or appliances there or transitions to other rooms). So, if this will physically work, then it comes down to a budget question, as you need to pay extra for installing the plywood (and installing plywood over concrete is more expensive vs. adding it to wood flooring joists). With concrete, you need to use special hilties and nail guns to secure the plywood into the sub-floor. The costs can definitely add up.
    • So, if you add in the plywood to the floor, then you can use either type of hardwood - solid or engineered.
    • If you do not add a plywood sub-floor, you will need to use an engineered hardwood. See paragraph C for a discussion on types of engineered constructions.

I hope that this makes sense. Basements are often complicated and it's best to consult a flooring professional on best structure/installation method and whether floor prep is needed (since many basements are uneven) or even whether hardwood is the best choice for your basement.  


When you're looking for flooring for your basement in Westchester County, give The Flooring Girl a call at 914-937-2950.

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Originally posted at Can Hardwood flooring be installed in a basement?

Can you install hardwood in a basement? Westchester NY

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Debbie Gartner - Westchester Hardwood Flooring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debbie Gartner, "The Flooring Girl" and owner of Floor Coverings International Westchester NY

 

Angie's List Super Service Award winners for 4 years in a row.

 

You can download our free flooring guide.  Or, visit our flooring selector - 2,000 options.  We install hardwood flooring, carpet and runners, tile floors and backsplashes.  We also refinish hardwood floors.

 

Call us for a free estimate 914-937-2950.

"We bring the store to your door."

If you enjoyed what you are are reading, feel free to subscribe to blog to my blog.

WC19920-H07, HIC619252

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Re-Bloggged 7 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Ritu Desai 09/21/2012 06:28 AM
  2. Evelyn Kennedy 09/21/2012 10:47 AM
  3. Lisa Hicks 09/21/2012 03:02 PM
  4. Cheryl Ritchie 09/21/2012 06:44 PM
  5. Patty Mortara REALTOR, ABR, CRS | Hunterdon County (NJ) 09/21/2012 07:24 PM
  6. Mark Woodward 09/25/2012 02:56 PM
  7. Martha Brown 09/25/2012 07:18 PM
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Rainmaker
1,669,223
Lou Ludwig
CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC, e-PRO
Ludwig & Associates

Debbie

Outstanding and informative post and worthily of the gold star.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

September 21, 2012 07:53 PM
Rainmaker
233,579
David Grbich
Orange County Real Estate - 949-500-0484
Ventana Coastal Properties - www.FindCARealEstate.com

Great advice - most homes in our area are built on slabs so we mostly see engineered as well. Regards Dave

September 21, 2012 08:57 PM
Rainmaker
866,502
Joe Petrowsky
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709

We are ripping up flooring in the lower level of a home I purchased. These were once beautiful oak wood, that was not installed correctly and can't be saved.

Great post, too bad this homeowner did see this post before spending the money for their hardwood floors.

September 22, 2012 03:28 AM
Rainmaker
594,399
Richard & Beth Witt
Broker/Owner RE/MAX Wittney Estates Long Island NY
RE/MAX Wittney Estates 516-795-6900 www.longislandrealestatesearch.com

Great post Debbie... I would have never thought one could or should be hard wood floors in a basement... Congrts on the feature...

September 22, 2012 07:12 AM
Ambassador
839,318
Dagny Eason
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo
Dagny's Real Estate

Debbie - Congrats once again on the feature!    You have served up the best of the best posts on hardwood flooring in a basement.   Great job!

September 22, 2012 07:19 AM
Rainer
191,466
Dörte Engel
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton
RE/MAX Leading Edge

Dear Debbie,

Great tips! I often see badly installed laminate or hardwood in basements. As with painting, it is not always in the installation itself, but the preparation that your project will succeed.

 

September 22, 2012 07:56 AM
Rainmaker
807,814
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg Homes
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg IL Real Estate - Northwest Suburbs of Chicago

Great post giving all the examples of what to use. Since I've never need a completely level basement (drainage holes, etc) in my area, I guess you only have a few choices. 

September 22, 2012 08:09 AM
Rainmaker
223,876
Michael Blue
REALTOR - 760-889-8877, Encinitas/Carlsbad
Home Smart Realty West
Good post. Putting wood in the basement may seem like a slamdunk for many but as you pointed out many considerations have to be considered. Very thoughtfully organized presentation.
September 22, 2012 10:31 AM
Rainmaker
698,189
Sharon Parisi
Dallas Homes
Keller Williams Dallas Premier Realty

Debbie, I have said this many times before.  I wish you worked in Dallas, Texas!

September 22, 2012 10:37 AM
Ambassador
892,107
Bob Crane
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9663
Woodland Management Service

Thanks Debbie, I would not have thought to place wood in the basement, its nice to hear that it is an option.

September 22, 2012 11:13 AM
Rainmaker
307,004
John DL Arendsen
Real Estate Bkr, Factory Built home Dealer/Devlpr
TAG Real Estate Sales & Investments & ON THE LEVEL GC

We've done lot's of wood floor projects in basements. You're right we always waterproof before proceeding.

September 22, 2012 11:59 AM
Rainmaker
795,302
Marte Cliff
your real estate writer
Marte Cliff Copywriting

As always - your posts are useful and informative. Thanks for all you share.

September 22, 2012 01:12 PM
Anonymous #48
Anonymous
Anonymous

Great info although too much for me to absorb.  I'm going to save your post and use it when needed.  Nice to have an expert in my back pocket. 

September 22, 2012 02:06 PM
Rainmaker
80,195
Tom Esposito
Alpharetta Home Solutions

Great info although too much for me to absorb.  I'm going to save your post and use it when needed.  Nice to have an expert in my back pocket. 

September 22, 2012 02:34 PM
Rainer
83,887
Brad Baylor
ERA Coup Agency

Debbie - If I ever build my own home, I can guarantee you one thing there won't be, and that's a basement.  They're just a problem waiting to happen.

September 24, 2012 07:42 AM
Rainer
201,475
Nan Jester
Realtor, Exit Real Estate Gallery
Exit Real Estate Gallery Jacksonville Beach, FL

That is not a problem here in Jacksonville because we can't have basements, being so close to sea level, and so close to it, too

September 24, 2012 01:53 PM
Rainmaker
607,920
Martha Brown
Your Homes Around Annapolis Agent
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Annapolis MD 21403

Love this Debbie. Sorry I misse it when originally posted as it is great info. Going to reblog and share for sure. 

September 25, 2012 07:16 PM
Anonymous #53
Anonymous
Charles

I really like this post as it provides some useful information on hardwood and plywood basement flooring. Its really important to make your basement floor healthy but hard to maintain because some of the basement floor met with the moisture ploblems but this post give an idea by providing some new important tips of hardwood and plywood flooring. I really like this post.

October 17, 2012 02:59 AM
Rainmaker
1,563,989
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - Westchester hardwood flooring
Floor Coverings International Westchester NY & Stamford CT

Charles - Thank you.  I'm glad to hear that.

October 17, 2012 04:19 AM
Rainmaker
179,353
Brenda Whitman
Associate Broker, Laramie, Wyoming
CENTURY 21 Real Estate Center, Inc., Laramie, Wyoming

We have debated for the last 10 years how to put something other than carpet on our garden level basement floor.  Your posts are amazingly educational and helpful in that regard.  Thanks!

November 09, 2012 07:51 PM
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Rainmaker
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Debbie Gartner

The Flooring Girl - Westchester hardwood flooring
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