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ProjectCraftsDept: Installing Laminate Flooring For The Basement

by - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

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Hooray! The flooring in the soon-to-be crafts room is in! On the last post, I shared with you some of our basement flooring options from Beaulieu Canada. What did we select? Smoked, a beige-taupe Oak laminate! 

If you are wondering how to install laminate flooring, and more specifically, laminate flooring for the basement, I'm sharing all my tips in today's post.

Laminate Flooring For Basements


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When selecting the best flooring for a basement, you need to consider a few things. There are the aesthetic characteristics - the look and feel of your flooring - but also functional considerations and what type of flooring is suited to your basement condition.

What is the best flooring for a basement cement floor?

Most any type of flooring that has moisture resistant properties can be installed in a basement. Ceramic tile, engineered hardwood, and laminate are all reliable choices. 

We installed laminate flooring in our previous basement and liked both the feel and quality of the product. It provided our basement a fresh, modern feel. It was easy to keep clean and wiped up easily when we had spills for messes.

We wanted that same durability and convenience in this craft room. In terms of style, we liked the white washed look of the Smoked laminate and the fact that the striations and knots weren't very pronounced. It will give the basement the light and airy feel I'm hoping for. The wider plank (these are 7.3") feels more modern as well. The laminate should also be very durable. It's at the high end for thickness (11mm), is resistant to spills and indentation, and easy to maintain.

Do you need a subfloor under laminate in the basement?

The short answer is yes. Concrete slabs are porous and prone to moisture. Water from around your house's foundation can come up through your concrete floor. To prevent damage from moisture, you'll need a vapour barrier beneath your laminate.

How To Install Laminate Flooring


Installation of laminate flooring is quick and simple.  We laid down the flooring in this room in just an afternoon. We've installed laminate flooring before and learned a few things that were useful for this project. 

Tackling a flooring project of your own? Here's tips on how to install laminate flooring in the basement.

Step 1: Install the subfloor

It's essential to install a subfloor in your basement. The subfloor adds insulation which means your floor stays warmer and is more comfortable in winter. We used DRIcore subfloor panels on top of the concrete floor. The DRIcore panels provided insulation and a vapour barrier, all in one. Installation was very easy. The panels lock into one another to form a seamless surface.

Does your laminate flooring feel bouncy?

Now is the time - before the laminate is installed - to fix any potential issues. Our floor was pretty level with no big noticeable dips. However, once the subfloor went in, we noticed a few spots with a bit of "bounce". You can see one area outlined in faint green marker in the photo below, just in front of Sean's feet. 

Using a trick learned from a contractor, Sean drilled a few holes into the bouncy area and then sprayed in a little bit of insulating foam. He placed a case of flooring on top of the holes to hold down the subfloor as it hardened overnight. By the next day, the subfloor was solid and level.

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Step 2: Lay the underlayment


Underlayment is critical to the successful installation of laminate flooring. This foam underlayment, ideal for laminate flooring, is designed to provide both moisture protection and cushioning under the floating floor. 

The laminate flooring underlayment performs two functions. Firstly, it eliminates any deviations in the subfloor and creates a level surface on which to lay the laminate planks. Secondly, it delivers acoustical performance and will reduce the squeaks you might hear from your flooring.

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Step 3: Map out the flooring


Before you jump in and start laying down flooring, take a moment to map out the placement of your laminate flooring. The purpose of this is to reduce wastage and eliminate any odd cuts. With some pre-planning, you can save yourself headaches down the road. 

Starting at the long wall and moving towards the entry door, Sean did a rough estimation of how many rows of planks it would take to cover the room. Ideally, you don't want any cut plank to be less than 2" in width. If the last row of planks is less than 2", you'll want to cut the first row of planks to make it narrower so that the last row will end up wider.

This is the same tip we use when laying tile. You don't want the first or last row of materials to be too narrow so plan up front and avoid those issues.

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Step 4: Install the laminate flooring


There are many types of laminate with different ways of "locking" the planks together.  Our Smoked laminate had an angle to angle locking system. Once you figure out the process, installation moves fairly quickly. Here's how to install a locking laminate flooring:
  1. Place your first row along one wall. Place your boards left to right until you reach the rightmost wall
  2. If you have to cut a board at the end of the row, use that offcut to start the next row. This ensures there is little wastage
  3. On your second row, again moving left to right, install the short edge into the previous plank
  4. Lift both the previous board and current board from the front edge. Tilt both front edges upward, then push the long back edge into the previous row, behind your current row. 
  5. Push both boards down at the same time. You should feel a "click" as the current row settles into the groove of the back row.
  6. Use a tapping block at the right short edge of the current board. Tap the current board leftwards and ensure a tight fit with the previous board
  7. Use a tapping block along the front edge of the current board. Tap the current board to ensure there are no gaps between rows.

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Continue installing rows until you have covered the entire floor. You'll be amazed at how transformed your room will look just by installing the flooring.

And just like that, #ProjectCraftsDept is starting to look like a real room!

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The creamy paint and poor lighting in the room are making the laminate flooring look more yellow than it is in person. Are you curious as to what the cabinets will look like? I'll be sharing that with you next!

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Disclosure: This flooring project has been sponsored by Beaulieu Canada. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.

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