The best option for basement floors is a stained and sealed floor or resurfaced with a concrete overlay.
As I write I am siting in my beautifully built out basement office . My floor is wall to wall carpet which was installed 10 years ago before most people had ever heard of concrete stains and overlays. The air quality is terrible. It's hard to put my finger on it but I know I feel better when I go upstairs.
My dehumidifier goes on and off. Every few days in winter I have to empty the 2 gallon container, in summer everyday. That can't be good for air quality and is certainly unhealthy. Though I can't see it, the combination of dust and moisture living in my carpet must create mold.
What are the options?
1. Hardwood - doesn't work. 2 reasons. First it raises the height of the floor at steps and doorways. Few homes were designed for basement floors other than concrete, its always an afterthought. Raise the floor height and you violate code at steps and have a doorjam issue. Second moisture will cause hardwood to expand and contract causing floor to buckle.
2. Ceramic Tile - Like hardwood there is the height issue at doorways and steps. The negative is the grout lines where dirt and moisture settle. A big advantage if height is not an issue is you can install a radiant heat mat, then install tile. A great solution, but expensine.
3 Vinyl tile - Thin and inexpensive. Moisture coming through a concrete slab can delaminate tile. Vinly or linoleum are not breathable so moisture will not penetrate. Instead it will trap moisture. If you get water in basement it will settle in joints where tile meets tile.
4. Carpet - carpet definately will warm up a cold damp basement. However it will work like a sponge for moisture and collects dust. A great breading ground for mold. A great solution is to either seal, stain and seal your concrete floor or install a concrete overlay then put down area rugs and runners. The area rugs and runners can be removed for cleaning or easily replaced.
5. Concrete Overlays - concrete overlays are also referred to as skim coats. They are thin coats of very fine concrete. They are mixed to the consistancy of pancake mix in 5 gallon buckets with a drill and inexpensive mixing paddle. They are applied with 2 coats about 1/16th of an inch thick. After the concrete dries it gets sealed.
Now you have a thin seamless floor in any color. Clean, easy to clean, breathable so moisture can pass through. Mold resistant, any mold can be easily cleaned. Thin so height is not an issue.
Solves just about all basement floor covering issues. Add area rugs for warmth and decor. They can removed to clean or thrown out and replaced. Many area rugs are inexpensive. Cost for materials is below $2.00 per square foot.Due to new improvements and developments with overlays there are a few systems on the market that are easy to apply.
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