Basements are notorious for being moisture magnets, and wood and moisture do not get along. Physics is working against us when it comes to our below-ground living spaces. However, this does not automatically mean we should avoid using hardwood in our finished basements. Let’s go over the things to consider before making this decision.
When It Should Be Avoided
As we said before, wood does not like moisture. Not only does wood not like it, but your wallet will also cringe if you have to replace your hardwood flooring because of a leak. If the basement needs a constant dehumidifier running to keep the walls dry, hardwood probably isn’t a great idea.
Most homes house their water heaters in the basement. If a heater should leak or have a problem, you now have water-soaked hardwood flooring that is ruined.
Another issue unrelated to water is the smoothness of your basement floor. If it’s a newer home, you’re not likely to have this issue. However, if you own an older home, sometimes those basements floors can be very uneven. This does not mean it will be impossible to put hardwood flooring down, but it could make it more difficult and more expensive.
When It Could be Possible
There are circumstances when installing hardwood flooring in a basement would not be a bad idea. Occasionally only part of the basement is finished while the furnace and water heater area remains unfinished. If this is the case, all the water danger would be away from the potential new hardwood, and installing it could be a great idea.
Additionally, if the groundwater around your home moves away from the foundation altogether, you could potentially install hardwood flooring.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that a new leak won’t pop up, so we like to warn that there is always a risk that brand new flooring could get ruined by moisture in a basement.
Hardwood Look-a-Like Alternatives
If taking on the risk of having the entire basement floor being ruined in one flood is too much for you, we do have some good news. There is now a plethora of options when it comes to wood flooring look-a-likes. You can get them in tile and vinyl. Even concrete can be designed to have a hardwood floor appearance.
Engineered wood flooring could also be an option. It is merely plywood with a thin layer of hardwood veneer on top, and plywood can hold its shape better than wood when in contact with moisture.
Laminate flooring is another excellent option! With new manufacturing technology making patterns and material better and better, you can get the look of hardwood in your basement without the risk of it getting ruined by water.
Hardwood flooring can make a space feel warm and inviting, which is why we love it so much! Weigh out the pros and cons and know that there are other great alternatives to hardwood that can give you that same feeling.