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Should my finished basement have a subfloor?

The short answer is... yes.

Unfinished basements have a couple of key issues:

1) They are inherently damp due to being below grade and made of concrete, which is porous.

2) They are cold due to being the lowest point in the home and made of concrete, which is a poor thermal insulator (does not hold heat well).

These issues are easily remediated by installing a basement subfloor system. When talking about a “subfloor” we are referring to a support system or substrate installed underneath a finished floor. Basement subfloors are great for most finish flooring treatments including: laminate, vinyl, carpet, engineered hardwood and cork.

An ideal basement subfloor consists of two parts. One being a non permeable and non-organic layer, something that won't rot or promote mold growth. This layer is your first line of defence against mold and mildew. As stated earlier, concrete is porous which allows moisture to migrate and stay present in your basement. This first layer will stop the moisture from penetrating and ruining your finished floor. We recommend a subfloor system that includes a way for moisture to dissipate over time. Often people think a carpet underpad is enough, but these underlayments should never be installed directly against concrete. This will cause moisture issues and musty odors.

The second part to a quality subfloor is a stable and fastenable layer. This layer is typically made out of plywood or OSB (oriented strand board). Plywood and OSB has good thermal properties that will keep you warmer, along with being a solid foundation to lay flooring. Having these two layers working side by side, the subfloor system will reduce thermal bridging/ transfer from the cold concrete to your feet. Testing has shown that adding a basement subfloor can make your basement floor up to 6 to 10 degrees warmer.

With the combination of a good subfloor and other quality building practices we can create a warmer and more sustainable basement for you and your family.


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