The basement provides you with a number of unique challenges when choosing a flooring material. This space is prone to mold, flooding, and cold, and is generally a harsh environment to try and make livable. Vinyl has a variety of characteristics that can help to offset these issues, however, it also has some inherent characteristics that make it susceptible to basement concerns.
Waterproof Vinyl Basement Floors
Vinyl is manufactured in a manner similar to plastics, which produces a material that is completely waterproof. This is especially important in below grade basement locations, which are prone to water damage both from moisture seeping up, and from flooding issues that can occur.
With a vinyl floor installation you don’t have to worry about the effect of moisture on the material at all. However with tile you may have to pay attention to floods or spills seeping down between the seams of the material, and effecting any underlayment or subfloor that may exist below. You should also ensure that vinyl installed in a basement has all of the proper vapor barrier guards in place so that moisture doesn’t affect any other part of the installation.
Installation: Another great thing about vinyl is that it is relatively easy to install, and even an amateur can usually handle the project in just a couple of days. With sheet vinyl you will have to do some accurate measuring and cutting to get the piece into the right size and shape. However with tile it is just a process of adhering the squares directly to the underlayment or subfloor. There are also floating vinyl floors with click together installations.
Vinyl Basement Floor Prices
Generally sheet vinyl is going to be your least expensive option, with these materials costing $1.00 per square foot or less. However you have to balance this out by the fact that sheet vinyl is more complex to install in a basement, and may require hiring a professional. Doing it yourself can also result in inaccurate cuts which can cost you in waste materials.
For tile you are going to pay around $2.00 to as much as $10.00 per square foot depending on how complex the patterns and textures are in the tile. However tile is also much easier to install yourself, and individual pieces can be removed when they are damaged, and replaced with leftover materials.
Vinyl Floors and Basement Air Quality
VOC’s: Due to the substances used in its manufacture, vinyl does tend to offgas small amounts of Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC’s) into the air after it’s installation. The level of chemicals released is usually small, with the amount based on the quality of the material manufacturer. However in an enclosed space such as the basement this can be a problem.
Luckily this effect will wear off over time, and can be helped by keeping the area well ventilated for several weeks after the vinyl is installed in the basement. You should also check with the dealer that you purchase the material from to ensure that it is made in a responsible manner, so as to limit these emissions.
Vinyl Flooring In Finished Basements
Cold: Generally vinyl can be adhered directly to the subfloor, or the concrete slab that the entire building rests on. This makes the installation quick, and easy, and cuts down on the cost of various underlayment layers. The drawback is that vinyl doesn’t provide a lot of insulation against the cold chill of that concrete surface.
This chill can be offset to some extent by installing a foam or cork insulating layer in between the concrete and the actual vinyl covering. In some cases you can also install radiant below floor heating, however it will have to be strictly temperature controlled, as vinyl emits an unpleasant smell when heated beyond a certain level.
Comfort: Another issue you may run into with installing vinyl directly on the concrete subfloor of a basement is the hardness of your floor. Vinyl is a relatively thin, and flexible surface covering that does not provide any padding on its own. Here too the installation of cork, foam, or some other padded underlayment can greatly increase the comfort of your finished basement.
Vinyl Flooring In Other Rooms
Mold and Mildew Issues
Another major concern with basement floors is the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria across its surface. The waterproof characteristics of vinyl will help prevent that to some extent. You also have the option of using a variety of cleansing agents which can scour the floor free of germs without worrying about damage or discoloration. It is this same characteristic that makes vinyl a popular choice in hospitals and other antiseptic environment.
Basement Vinyl Design Ideas
Because it is a subterranean space, stone and other natural elements are often highlighted to both match, and elevate the inherent architectural features of the environment. However these can be expensive choices in a basement, which is often renovated as an afterthought. Vinyl allows you to achieve the look of these natural materials in your flooring, at a fraction of the cost, and with far fewer maintenance and durability issues.
Beyond this, vinyl gives you nearly limitless design options when it comes to styling a basement through its flooring. From random patterns of color, to exotic mosaics and murals, you can achieve just about any look that you want with vinyl in the basement.