Laminate Flooring In a Basement Setting

Laminate Flooring In a Basement Setting

Laminate Basement Flooring

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Traditionally laminates have not been recommended for below grade basement installations due to issues with rising groundwater and flooding. However there are new manufacturing techniques that are being used to produce lines of laminate that are rated to deal with moist, subterranean locations. You can ensure that a particular laminate is good for basement use by carefully reading the stipulations in the material warranty.

Potential Problems For Laminate Basement Floors

Groundwater: The basement’s subfloor will generally consist of a concrete slab that acts as the foundation for the structure. This slab is surrounded by earth which will contain various amounts of water depending on rainfall and humidity. In older buildings, a vapor barrier will not have been installed in between the earth and the concrete, allowing moisture to slip from the ground into the slab and up to the surface floor.

Basement Humidity: Basement’s are often hot, humid areas. This is because the room is basically built down into the earth, so the walls are also concrete slabs surrounded by moist dirt. When it rains the water seeps down into the ground, and can cause a basement to feel particularly muggy. This humid air can then seep through seams, causing the laminate material to warp or rot.

Below Grade Flooding Concerns: There are a few things that can cause a flood in the basement. First, if there is a general flood in the area, the water that fills the streets will naturally spill down into any lower areas. You also have to worry about water saturating the ground and spilling in through the concrete walls and subfloor. Finally, many people keep washing machine and other equipment that can malfunction and flood in this area.

More About Laminate Flooring

Laminate Basement Flooring Precautions

Type Of Material: Most traditional laminates are made with a waterproof surface layer, a decorative layer, and then fiberboard backing. This backing is what is susceptible to moisture, and if it comes in contact with liquids it can warp, twist, rot, and start to grow mold and mildew.

However, there are new laminate materials which are manufactured to be resistant to water. In a basement environment, the best choice is going to be a laminate that is built with a solid plastic core. This will nestle the decorative sheet between a waterproof wear layer and an impervious plastic backing to create tiles which are resistant to almost all liquid penetration.

Laminate Flooring In a Basement Setting

Preparing The Structure: When working with laminates you want to make sure that you take precautions to minimize the risk of high humidity and flooding conditions. This includes doing things like making sure that all of your gutters and downspouts are clean and in good working order. You also want to make sure that all drains and surface levels direct rainwater away from the structure.

Installing Laminate Basement Flooring

Plastic Sheet Test: This is a fairly simple test to check for moisture in the concrete slab. You cut plastic garbage bags into squares, and then tape them to the floor in various places around the basement. Then you leave them for 3 days. At the end of that time you lift the squares to see if liquid has accumulated on the bottom. If it has your basement may be too moist for a laminate flooring installation.

More advanced moisture tests use chemicals to detect the presence of liquids. Others require you to chisel a hole into the concrete and use an electric meter to take a reading. All of these tests have varying degrees of accuracy, and should be undertaken multiple times in multiple places throughout the basement.

Preparation: You should only install laminate on a concrete basement subfloor which was poured 60 days or more prior to the work. You also need to keep the installation environment at a steady 60 — 75 degrees fahrenheit, with 35% — 50% humidity or less for a minimum of 15 days prior to the job commencing.

Humidity: Before installing laminate flooring a fully functioning temperature control system should be in place to deal with fluctuations in temperature and humidity. In some cases the use of a dehumidifier as a regular fixture in the space will also be necessary to cut down on humidity in the air.

Installation Procedure: You start by sealing the surface of the concrete with a chemical sealing agent that will create one more barrier between the base of the laminate, and any groundwater that may seep up over time. Then you should lay a 6 millimeter plastic moisture barrier underlayment to further protect the material. Over that you should install any plastic foam underlayment provided by the manufacturer.

Then the laminate flooring should be installed over all of that. During the installation follow all of the manufacturers instructions exactly. It’s also a good idea to check the warranty on the material to ensure that nothing that you are doing voids it.


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