Can Hardwood Flooring Be Installed in a Basement?

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Yes, technically It is possible to install hardwood flooring in the basement by gluing it down directly to the concrete. However, it’s much better to either install subfloor first or use engineered wood flooring.

The reason for this is because a basement is below the ground and more prone to moisture and water leaks which could damage the floor since it’s not waterproof.

Different Options Based on Different Scenarios

Here are the different options that you have when it comes to hardwood in your basement.

Plywood Sub Floor and Ground Level Basement

If this describes you then things will be a bit easier than the other options. You have some flexibility when it comes to choosing your wood. You can use solid hardwood if you are a grade and nail it into the plywood.

You can also use engineered hardwood and nail it into the plywood. This installation method costs less than others. Beyond that it depends on your budget and what type of wood you want.

Plywood SubFloor and Below Ground Basement

If this describes you then you have to install engineered hardwood. This is because solid hardwood can buckle and split due to large variance in humidity and temperature. Engineered hardwood has layers and can handle this better.

With the plywood subfloor it would be a good idea to get standard engineered hardwood that can be nailed to the plywood.

Concrete SubFloor and Below Ground Basement

In this scenario you will have to use an engineered hardwood floor. If your concrete floor is smooth then you can glue a regular engineered hardwood to it. Obviously you’ll want to make sure it’s extremely level otherwise the adhesive won’t stick and the floor could get detached!

If the floor is not level/smooth then it’s best to level it which can be expensive. If the floor is level but not smooth then you can go with a clickable hardwood that can be floated on top.

We have to note that if the floor is uneven then there could be a lot of movement. In this case it’s better to select a different type of flooring.

Not sure what’s best for your type of floor? Get an assessment from a local pro here:

Concrete SubFloor and Ground Level Basement

If this is your scenario then you have options depending on the construction of your home.

  • option 1: Install an engineered hardwood on top of the concrete by either gluing it down or floating it.
  • option 2: install a plywood subfloor and put the solid hardwood on top of it. If room permits, you can install a ¾ inch plywood subfloor. This will make for 1.5 inches of height with the plywood and the solid hardwood so make sure that it doesn’t interfere with doors, cabinets, appliances, or transitions to other rooms.

If this is an option for you then the next consideration is budget. You’ll have to pay more to install the plywood and it’s more expensive to install the plywood over concrete than it is to add it to wood flooring joists. Concrete requires the use of hilites and nail guns in order to secure the plywood onto the subfloor. This can get expensive!

So to sum it up: if you add plywood to the floor then you have the choice of either solid or engineered hardwood. Whereas if you don’t add a plywood subfloor then you have to use an engineered hardwood.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article helped to shed some light on the common issues that you’ll encounter when installing hardwood flooring in your basement. We tried to cover ever scenario that we could think of but if there are any others feel free to leave a comment below.