Friday, October 21, 2011

The basement: Part 1 - The floors

For the past five months, our basement TV room has been a bit of a mess, while we wait for a heavy rainfall to assure us that the leak is fixed and that the basement will stay  dry.  This past Wednesday we apparently had over 30 mm of rain overnight - so I take that as my cue.  The basement is dry.
The entire east wall of the room is missing 2' of drywall off the bottom of the wall, the baseboards are all in a pile waiting to be put back into place, and the carpet has been temporarily rolled back into place.

Unfortunately though, the carpet doesn't look like it will ever be the same as it used to.  As soon as we noticed the basement was wet, we covered the carpet in baking soda to absorb some of the moisture and as a preventative measure against mustiness.  We then rolled it back and put an industrial fan aimed at it to dry it out.  But when we rolled it back down into place later, the carpet was hard, creased, and lumpy.  The underpadding was also a bit sandy - likely from the water seepage, but also from the work that was done. 

We vacuumed the death out of both... but I just don't ever think I'll be happy with the carpet anymore.  It just doesn't feel cozy and clean anymore.  I don't think it will ever quite reach the edges of the room like it used to, and at the doorway to the room, the seam has gone frayed.
So I have been contemplating other options for flooring, and would be open to suggestions! 
Here are the caveats:
  • The floor is not level.  And by not level, I mean that it has valleys, hills, and even a couple mountains.  I've read that some flooring options require the maximum variation in levelness to be 1/4".... I think we're dealing with a FEW inches at least.
  • Our basement ceiling is LOW.  We don't have any inches to spare.  It's a very usable basement, but Matt's head just clears the ceiling. 
Some of the ideas I've thought of so far are:
Flooring Option
·    Easily stretches over dips & valleys
·    Warm & cozy
·    Difficult to repair
·    Wouldn’t want it to ever get wet

Carpet Tile
·    Easy to replace select squares if any of it is damaged. 
·    Warm & cozy
·    Wouldn’t want it to ever get wet

·    Not sure if it can be installed on unlevel ground?
·    Cost???
Cork Flooring
Really know nothing about this, but would like to know if it’s an option?
Polished/Painted Concrete
·    Would actually gain some height rather than losing height
·    Not an issue with the dips & valleys
·    No concerns about it getting wet
·    Cold!  Would definitely require some area rugs
·    Can look cool and industrial (which is appropriate for our basement), but might also just look unfinished and rough?
·    Does the concrete have to look nice before it is painted/polished?  Because I think ours is a bit patchy looking!
Vinyl Plank Flooring
·    Easy to install
·    Probably easy to replace if some sections are damaged
·    Can handle getting wet
·    Cold!  Would definitely require some area rugs
·    Might look cheap.  We installed about 15 square feet in our basement powder room, and it looks nice, but an entire basement of it might scream “cheap”. 
·    Not sure that this could be installed on unlevel ground?  That wasn’t an issue in the powder room.

Here is some inspiration I've found too:

Carpet Tile from InterfaceFLOR.  This looks so nice and flat... I only WISH our basement floor was this flat.

Carpet Tile from InterfaceFLOR.  Looks cozy.

Painted concrete on Pinterest.  LOVE this pattern!!

Painted Concrete on Pinterest.  A fun pattern and kind of industrial... suits a basement.

Painted Concrete on Pinterest.  GORGEOUS!

Stained concrete on Pinterest - looks so much cozier because of the warm fire and bright windows.

Stained concrete on Apartment Therapy... again, I think this room looks cozy because of the lighting and a fireplace (which we do not have)

Any flooring experts out there have any great suggestions for how to handle this?


  1. I like the Stained concrete -- can you do that on any concrete floor or does it have to have a specific look already?

  2. I second the stained concrete. Without a stain concrete looks cold, but with a stain and a few area rugs it looks fab.

    Our old neighbours in Ottawa installed leather floor tiles stamped to look like alligator in their kitchen of all places...I thought it looked pretty swank...but you could get tired of it!

  3. The stencilled concrete is pretty awesome too. Here's a blog post with a few cool options - including a super cool herringbone leather floor tile:

  4. I had never even heard of leather floor tile!! Sounds very cool. That site has some great ideas.

    I love the stained concrete idea too, but I think we'll need to have our concrete assessed, haha.... I have a feeling it's a bit of a mess of patches and mis-matched under the carpet.

  5. Mary, I've acid-stained our basement (blog post about it: ) It doesn't have to be smooth to accept the stain, just free of any finish that will mask the stain. The sanding to smooth it was done by a commercial concrete tradesperson, and even that did not get it perfectly smooth - it's a big project. After acid-staining, you can then apply the polish that makes it shiny. I think it looks much warmer.

  6. Thanks for the info Gai! That does look like it was a lot of work, but the outcome looks fantastic! You were wise to sample in closets first! You've tempted me to at least call someone in and assess my options!