What kind of flooring is appropriate for a finished basement?

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Answered by Tim Snyder, Guest Editor

You might already know to avoid carpet since carpeted basements can get moldy. But there are also other materials to avoid, including wood “sleepers” and plywood underlayment that are sometimes mistakenly laid over a basement floor. Like carpeting, wood is a porous material that absorbs and holds moisture—exactly what you DON’T want to happen in the basement. One product that has a good track record in the basement is flooring made from high-density plastic (PVC), with surface finishes that mimic ceramic tile or wood parquet. The material won’t absorb or be damaged by moisture, and mold won’t grow on it either. The nubby underside is ideal in the basement because it lets the tile flex over a rough, irregular concrete floor, while also providing drainage space and a thermal break. The 12-inch square tiles simply snap together, so they’re not difficult to install or replace. I’ve seen versions of these tiles at some flooring dealers, and it’s also possible to have them installed by a Total Basement Finishing dealer.

Floor tiles made from PVC plastic feature tile-like surface finishes and a nubby underside that provides a thermal break as well as a drainage plane.

About the author: A journalist specializing in sustainability, energy efficiency and home improvement topics, Tim Snyder is a former executive editor of Fine Homebuilding and American Woodworker magazines. Tim's recent work includes a green remodeling manual for the Environmental Protection Agency, and a chapter on “Smart Shelter” for The Whole Green Catalog. Tim’s blogs and web content can be found at myHOMEscience.com, DrEnergySaver.com, BasementSystems.com, MotherEarthNews.com, Wisebread.com, Green-Energy-News.com, RealtyBiznews.com and other sites.