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Flooring Flummox

by - Sunday, November 28, 2010

And the basement planning continues. Last we left it, we were still tweaking the layout plan. Now we're stuck thinking about the floors. You see, HandyMan wants the basement to be warm and comfy, a place to escape to, maybe relax and watch a movie, and to him that means carpet underfoot. Normally, I'd agree with him... if I didn't also want the basement to be a place where Chloe and I can create and make crafts and do some sewing and draw and paint and throw glitter around, so to me that means laminate underfoot.

Which leaves us here:

We're at an impasse. We briefly considered doing a portion of the room in carpet and a portion in laminate, but the basement is not that big to begin with so different flooring would make it look too choppy and small. Part of the dilemma is the stairs leading to the basement. They are currently covered in vinyl and beneath that we know there is only construction grade plywood. There is no refinishing and painting those babies; they would either have to be completely covered in some material or refaced (and that seems an expensive option, but I admit we haven't really looked into the cost of refacing).

If we were to do it entirely in laminate flooring (or vinyl like the Traffic Allure product which I've heard about from my friends Arren and Lisa), what do we do on the stairs? Is laminate slippery on stairs (and how do you deal with the nosing?).

If we were to do it entirely in carpet, then lost sewing pins or paint spills would be a hazard. Decisions, decisions. Weigh in folks - carpet or laminate? What do you have in your basement??

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  1. We have vinyl (hardwood looking) with an jute area rug in the tv viewing section. I love it. The vinyl visually warms up the space while the rug grounds the "living room" space. Our steps going down are concrete. Talk about chilly! We're planning on getting a indoor/outdoor runner from Dash and Albert to put on those. I'm thinking about just using velcro strips to attach to the steps.

    Hope that helps. Good luck in the decision making. Can't wait to see the finished product!

  2. Anonymous8:58 AM

    Laminate/vinyl for practicality. Area rug for cozy. Not sure about the stairs though. There are definitely products that are meant to go on top. Could you paint what is there and add a runner?

  3. Anonymous10:06 AM

    My house is the same vintage as yours - and after stripping the disgusting beige berber carpet from the wood stairs I painted them with BM porch & floor paint - since the treads were 'distressed' they aren't slippery - which is good if going downstairs directly from the side door.

    Then I have commercial-grade carpet over damp-proof underpad. You might consider something like Flor carpet tiles - you would be able to replace any harmed in a 'crafting incident'.

    p.s. Your Christmas lights look great

  4. vinyl and a nice rug for the tv area, definitely.

  5. Anonymous10:29 AM

    We plan to use cork for our basement when we redo it. Then have a nice big area rug in the TV/couch area. Cork is easy to clean, helps reduce noise, and adds warmth. Plus it's naturally anti-bacterial!

  6. Anonymous11:04 AM

    We used engineered hardwood. We didn't really like the look of laminate and the shelf life. There's no other carpet in our house. We really wanted bamboo, but you can't put that below grade. We got a great deal on the engineered hardwood - cheaper than some grades of laminate. Then, for the stairs, they had these kits at Rona that were caps. We had them stained the same colour as the floor and then used plywood for the stair backs which we painted white (to keep the space looking light). We're going to put an area rug in the family/tv viewing area.

  7. I love reading your blog, and have not commented much but I thought maybe I can be of help with this time.

    We recently renovated a carriage house that we own as rental property. It had concrete floors that no one was loving (except my husband and I)

    We got WHITE LAMINATE FLOORING from IKEA at $1.15 a sq ft.- They were the click-lock like, so laying them took one evening (about six hours for an 800 square foot space).

    One worry that I had was that with our tenants and there dogs, the floors would get super dirty and show a lot of wear and tear, but they have actually kept up really well, and wipe down just fine. The white color laminate does not look 'cheap', and would lighten up a space like a basement.

    Good luck with everything. Cannot wait to see the space.

    ps. noticed that IKEA has a new product that does not need an underlayment.

  8. Vinyl is a good one, in fact our floor was covered with vinyl. It is also quite cheaper than carpets and they last long too. Carpets is better but for a small space like what you've said it is not appropriate with it. I think you should match the vinyl you would put on the floor with the one in the stair.

  9. I was going to recommend cork, but Robin beat me to it! We're really loving it in our house and might do it in our basement too. It's easy to clean, warm underfoot and you wouldn't have to worry about any funky chemicals or off-gassing, especially with your little one.

  10. Hi Jen, we were chatting about this at the meet-up. We just finished our basement and did what your husband wants, for the same reason. For me, a cozy basement meant cozy carpeting. HOWEVER, if I were to redo it, I would do engineered hardwood or cork.

    - we did in-floor heating, and the carpet doesn't conduct the heat as well as hard surfaces. It's still nice and warm, but I think it would be better if we had hardwood.
    - I have an area rug over the carpet for the seating area, and because of the pile on the carpet underneath it moves constantly and is always bunched up by the coffee table and couch. Super annoying, hard to vacuum, not pretty, and bad for the rug.
    - Spills WILL happen, especially as it is a TV room, craft room, etc and they are a pain to try to spot clean.

    So there you go. No to carpet. :)

    As for the stairs, we have carpet as well, and it gets so dirty, but it does have nice traction for the kids. I would vote for wood stairs, paint them, and if you feel you needed it, a runner (replaceable!)

    Can't wait to see what you do!

  11. Do BOTH. Put down your laminate or whatever "hard" flooring and cover with an easily removable AREA rug. Something that can be rolled away for those messy creative times AND can be easily taken away in the event of something a bit more disasterous. Remember, Basement are always prone to "something" not so great "happening", no matter how much you do to prevent it.

    Besides, at some point, you may want to redecorate, an area rug can be switched out and is waay cheaper than ripping out carpets because you suddenly hate the colour!

    And seriously, how MUCH heavy vacuuming do you really WANT to do?!

  12. We've gone back an forth on this too! Here's our advice:

    1) Basements can be wet, either from water seeping or from burst pipes/water heater breaking. Plan on your flooring getting wet at some point. Tile or Vinyl will handle water best. Carpet can mold and laminate/engineered wood can warp.

    2) Is your floor perfectly level? Laminate/wood needs no more than 1/4" of elevation change over an 8' area... that's really level. Carpet or vinyl will bend with the floor. Tile will go with changes better than laminate/wood but it can still be a problem. Smaller tiles fit the contour better than larger tiles.

    3) A common solution is to build an insulated sub floor that's off the wet ground and level but you lose ceiling height and if water gets below the sub floor you'll have the same problems.

    I've talked to a bunch of people about basement floorings and tile or vinyl keep coming up. I don't think either are a prefect solution but they'll keep things dry and last a lot longer than anything else. Put some area rugs down where you want your feet to stay warm :)

  13. Anonymous12:45 PM

    Cork from me too. And a rug with a nice rug pad under it for the cozy parts.

    Good luck deciding!


  14. We have tile near our basement stairs (which also is near the sump pump drain), and then carpet in the rest of the family room. My kids LOVE the carpet and it's great for playing and laying on the floor, and sleepovers (my 4 nephews just spent 3 nights down there over Thanksgiving). So cozy. We have hardwood everywhere in the rest of our house so it's nice change of pace. As a result, the messiest project stay in the kitchen where there are no rugs :)

    Check out a product call Dricore. It's great for basements and keeps the dampness away from the carpet. You can also get a stain guarantee and they will replace your carpet if they cannot get the stains out!

  15. Anon - hello neighbour ;) I might just have to rip up some more of the vinyl on the stairs and see exactly what condition they're in. Maybe we can salvage them with some paint like you did.

    Ati - that Ikea laminate is the exact one I wanted for the basement! I love the colour. But our contractor has used Ikea flooring in the past and is heavily dissuading us as he said its hard to replace individual boards. Not sure if he had used these click-lock types before though.

    oneurbannest - we've considered using those stair caps too. Only problem is we have 3 odd pie shaped stairs at the top and a square stair landing at the bottom so there would be some custom treads we'd have to get made.

    Lizinka, Mike & Katrina - thanks for all the tips! Definitely need to think about those points.

  16. Decisions, decisions. We went with 2 different flooring options in our basement. It was already a finished basement and we took out 30+ year old vinyl asbestos tiles (yeah, that was fun, haha), but the old adhesive underneath couldn't come out - and it was horrible uneven (think tile imprints and bumps everywhere). Due to the floor being uneven, we went with carpet throughout most of the basement (including the stairs), with vinyl peel-n-stick tiles around the bar and bathroom areas. So far we've been pleased with our decision.

    Good luck picking! I'm sure you'll choose the best option for you. :)


  17. I like the idea of the cork with area rugs in places. I also think painting the stair treads (maybe in a dark brown would do the trick). You could even have fun with the stairs and add wallpaper to the risers or numbers like Sarah Richardson has done for a few projects.

  18. Um, we have dirt! Lol. We live in an old house that has a dirt crawlspace.
    But if I were to do a basement, with little ones and hubby...I think I'd perhaps laminate the floors... but carpet the stairs and get an area rug size piece of carpet bound for the tv space and just keep the glitter and paint to the area you have set aside for the play craft space. (If I recall correctly that area is behind the couch, yes?)

  19. In our previous home we had a wonderful finished basement with a media room for TV watching, an office nook, a guest bedroom and full bath and a craft area with a sink, cabinetry and cubbies for supplies. The stairs were carpeted in a neutral easy care material. The basement flooring was laminate with the exception of the bedroom which was carpeted to match the stairs and the bathroom was tiled. For crafting, my vote is laminate with a wool area rug to give warmth and texture to the TV area.

  20. We had this debate too, except my father-in-law wanted to use tile in the basement! We chose laminate flooring because it would be easier to clean and not collect as much dust as carpet. We want to buy area rugs though in places where we'll be lounging to keep our feet nice and cozy. As for the stairs, we had the same issue, so we painted our stairs white and will be placing a stair runner so no one slips when going up/down them. Good luck!

  21. I just bought carpet for my basement- have you looked at carpet tiles- like the ones from flor? I thought about that so you could replace tiles but I like carpet.

  22. I have laminate stairs, and don't find them slippery. We have two kids and no one has ever fallen down them. I would recommend cork, it is a natural insulator even without in-floor heat. It is warm and easy to clean and extremely durable.


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