Cork Flooring In Basements and Below Grade Environments

Cork Flooring In Basements and Below Grade Environments

Cork Flooring In Basements and Below Grade Installations

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Warranty: Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations for installing a material in a below grade location before purchasing. Most cork suppliers will not recommend its use in these environments, and in many cases this will void the warranty on the product.

Humidity: Check the humidity in the basement periodically over the course of a few days, especially during a particularly bad storm. If the average humidity is over 60% then you may have problems with the material expanding and contracting, causing issues with the floor tiles popping up on you down the line.

Preparing the Basement: If an appropriate flooring material is found, you should still do everything you can to try to eliminate moisture, and humidity, from the environment. Make sure that the concrete subfloor slab is completely smooth, and free of any cracks that can let moisture in. You should also check the perimeter outside of the house, and ensure that the ground slopes away from the structure.

The use of a sub pump can help to prevent damage in the case of some floods. You can also use a dehumidifier in the space to somewhat reduce the humidity of the air.

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Cork Basement Flooring Options

Solid Glue Down Cork: Usually you can simply install these tiles on any flat, smooth subfloor. However in the basement you will often have a problem with moisture seeping up into the concrete slab. If the tiles are installed directly on it when this happens, the adhesive can delaminate and the tiles can curl up.

Because of this, when installing solid cork in a basement, you first need to lay down a 6 mm vapor barrier sheet that will prevent moisture from seeping up through the slab from the ground below. Then you should install a plywood subfloor that will provide stability for the structure. After that you can adhere the cork tiles directly to the plywood without having to worry about moisture from below.

Floating Cork Basement Flooring: These are engineered pieces, much like laminates, that consist of a 3mm layer of cork sandwiched between a fiberboard backing and a waterproof surface wear layer. When combined with a vapor barrier below, and a quality sealer applied to the seams, the floor becomes relatively resistant to the penetration of moisture.

Advantages Of Cork Basement Flooring

Mold and Mildew Resistant: Cork is naturally resistant to the growth of microbial organisms as well as mold and mildew, making it more suitable to a basement than carpet or hardwood.

Warm: Basement floors are often chilly in the winter. A cork floor will act as a thermal barrier, insulating your feet from the cold below.

Soft: Cork gives when you step upon it, instantly lending the surrounding room a sense of ease. If you are converting a basement space into a living room or den, than cork is a great option to soften the demeanor of the subterranean environment and make it more friendly and inviting.

Disadvantages Of Cork Basement Flooring

Warping: In humid environments, cork will tend to swell and expand, which can cause tiles and planks to pop up from the subfloor.

Flooding: In an unfinished basement, water can seep in from the subfloor and the concrete walls. During a severe storm or a flood, large amounts of water may rush through your basement. Many people also often have washing machines or hot water heaters in the basement. Malfunctions in these devices are also a flooding danger.

If large amounts of water are allowed to sit on a cork floor for any amount of it time, it will become ruined. Even the sealer and the wear layer on the best of tiles will not be able to withstand a flood. In addition, a leak in any surface in the basement can result in the warping or discoloration of individual tiles in the room.

Mold and Mildew: While cork is naturally resistant to the growth of these organisms, it is still a natural material. If the basement is extremely moist, harmful substances can begin to grow beneath the surface of the material.

Scratches: Over time cork naturally wears down and scratches from use. This will be exacerbated by untrimmed pet nails, unpadded high heels, and the dragging of unpadded furniture legs across its surface. In the case of solid cork you will be able to refinish the material to remove scratches. With engineered cork you will have to replace individual pieces when the wear layer fails.

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