As more and more Americans are looking to add space and value to their homes, below-grade renovation projects are on the rise. “Below grade,” for those who don’t know, simply refers to “below ground level.” When it comes to home remodeling, basement renovations are often a lot less expensive than other expansion projects, hence the popularity. If you’re remodeling a below-grade space, one of the most critical decisions you will make is flooring. Of course, we’re talking about more than aesthetics here. Since most basements present less than ideal conditions for flooring, it’s what’s underneath the beautiful surface that matters most. That’s where we come in. By knowing what basement conditions to watch out for and what products exist to combat those conditions, we hope to help you plan a basement floor that exceeds your expectations.
There are three main challenges to be aware of when installing flooring in a below-grade environment. These include moisture, subfloor imperfections and comfort. Perhaps the most obvious of these is moisture. Assuming your basement area is finished, flooding should not be routine, but that doesn’t mean all moisture is eliminated. On the contrary, moisture is always a factor, since being below ground means that water and gravity are always working against you.
One of the main sources of moisture in basements is through the subfloor, which is exposed to the ground below. Most basement subfloors are made of concrete, which is strong and durable but allows moisture to pass through from the ground up. For this reason, most flooring manufacturers require the use of a vapor barrier between the subfloor and the flooring to control the amount of water migrating up from the subfloor. With a built-in 6 mil vapor barrier, Eco Cork Foam Underlayment is specifically engineered to provide moisture control, in addition to many other benefits, as it’s materially waterproof.
A waterproof underlayment goes a long way to controlling moisture, but it’s important to choose a flooring product that is also waterproof throughout. Thankfully, there are plenty of options. Flooring has evolved a lot in the last decade with advances in waterproofing, finishes and materials. This provides a wide range of options suitable for basements, such as wood, vinyl, laminate, ceramic and carpet. Simply put, any flooring that is waterproof can be used in a below-grade application.
Surface imperfections are another subtle, yet substantial, hazard for basement floors. Both wood and concrete subfloors are prone to bumps and ridges that can take a toll on your flooring. With steady traffic, minor subfloor imperfections cause excess floor movement, which leads to premature wear and tear of tongue-and-groove connections. An easy solution is to choose an underlayment such as Eco Cork Foam that provides a durable cushion capable of smoothing out subfloor imperfections. Eco Cork Foam not only creates a smooth surface, but also provides significant strength to help support flooring.
Anyone who’s spent time in a cave-like basement renovation knows that comfort is key. But basements don’t have to be so cold and hard. New products like waterproof vinyl planks stand up against moisture but also include some cushioning. Choosing a thicker waterproof flooring product and underpinning that with Eco Cork Foam takes the comfort equation even further. At 1/8” thick, Eco Cork Foam offers luxurious support and cushioning along with an R value of .48. That’s enough to make your basement remodel a space the whole family will want in on.
Whatever you have planned for your basement remodel, we know you want to build something that will last, and Eco Cork Foam Underlayment can help. If you want to know more about the 10-in-1 features of Eco Cork Foam, be sure to check out our complete list. If you want more advice about below-grade flooring choices, send us a message.
Eco Cork Foam Underlayment is manufactured in North Carolina by Palziv, North America. Palziv brings together world-class science and engineering to deliver innovative products, materials and services for the construction, building, automotive, recreational, medical and packaging industries. Every day, we strive to grow our community, working with others to seek sustainable, innovative, market-driven solutions that promote better, safer, and healthier lifestyles and protect the environment for generations to come.