Basement Laminate Flooring: Pros and Cons

Laminate flooring has become one of the most preferred flooring choices for homeowners since its debut a couple of decades ago. It is attractive, easy to install, durable, and provides an affordable alternative to hardwood flooring. You can install them almost anywhere in the house but installing them in the basement has some risks.

You might feel tempted to install laminate flooring in your basement because of its low maintenance, stylish looks, and flooring needs. However, there are several things you should know about installing them in the basement. In this article, I have put together laminate basement’s pros and cons so that you can make a more informed decision regarding laying laminate flooring in your basement.

Pros of Laminate Flooring in Basement

Installing laminate flooring in the basement has several benefits. It is mainly a matter of choice when giving an aesthetic appeal to your house floors.

Vinyl plank flooring comes with deep texturing, various colors, and micro bevels that work and look just like solid hardwood. They have a tough protective coating, making the surface durable, strong, and water-resistant.

With laminate flooring, you have to worry about denting the floor with things like heels, furniture, or pet nails scratching the floors. Here are some other pros of laminate flooring in your basement.

Easy to Install

Laminate floors are easy to install, even for someone without experience with laminate floors. The older floors require glues and nails, but the latest varieties of laminate floors do not. However, you will need the experience to find suitable patterns on your laminate floors.

They come in a custom tongue and groove system known as a click and lock or fold-lock system that interlocks the floorboards seamlessly and quickly. This system makes it easy to install the floors interlocking the boards edge-to-edge and end-to-end.

You can cut the laminate floorboards with a miter saw if needed. The installation of the laminate floorboards requires interlocking them on an underlayment and joining them edge-to-edge across the floor in rows.

Budget-Friendly

Laminate flooring can give your basement an aesthetic and classy look without breaking the bank. The cost of the laminate flooring depends on the type of wood used.

Laminate flooring per square foot can cost around $0.90 for walnut, $0.70 for oak and maple, $1.00 for different varieties like cherry, beech, and acacia, and $2.00 per square foot of hickory laminate flooring.

The cost of the laminate boards also depends on the thickness of the finish and the print layer’s quality. Since laminate flooring is not too expensive, getting the best quality you can afford is best. Also, they are easy to install, and a professional will not ask for much money. You can normally hire an expert to install a laminate floor at $5.00 per square foot.

Durable

Even though laminate floors are often referred to as plastic floors, they are not made from plastic. A laminate flooring has four layers; a finished design, a core, and a back layer. Each of these layers has a separate purpose.

The finish or wear layer is a top transparent layer made from aluminum oxide that prevents surface stains, burns, and fading. The second layer is the design layer that adds a wood floor pattern to the board. The core layer is a durable board that protects against indentations and moisture. Lastly, the back layer is water-resistant to protect the board from moisture to prevent warping and swelling.

This multi-layer configuration of the laminate boards makes them dynamic, low-maintenance, durable, and resistant to scratches and fading.

Low Maintenance

Laminate floors are extremely easy to clean because of an aluminum oxide finish. This top layer is highly resistant to stains and requires less cleaning effort. 

The wear layer shields the design layer and keeps it blemish-free for years. This allows the laminate boards to have a lifespan of over 25 years.

Laminate flooring does not require additional care, unlike natural wood floors; occasional damp mopping is mostly enough to keep the floor clean. Also, laminate floors do not require waxing or varnishing to keep their shiny finish.

You can sweep, damp mop, or vacuum a laminate floor. However, you should avoid using too much water while mopping as it can damage the planks.

Pet and Kids Friendly

Since laminate floors are highly durable and resistant to scratches, stains, burns, and moisture, they can bear any abuse you heap on them. This makes it a perfect choice of floor for the house where you have kids or pets. Unlike carpets, the floorboards do not accumulate dust and dirt.

The protective wear layer on the laminate board seals the surface and protects your floors from everyday wear and tear. This hard-wearing nature of laminate floors makes them perfect for your basement flooring and to turn it into a pet’s living room. You can clean away the muddy tracks with a simple mop-up.

Recyclable

Laminate planks have a high-density fiber core made of compressed wood fibers extracted from wood chips. Laminate boards are about 80% wood, and more than 85% of them are recyclable. They can be recycled into fibers or wood chips.

However, most local recycling plants lack adequate machinery to recycle laminate boards. Therefore, ensure you check with your manufacturer and find out if they have a recycling program for laminate flooring.

Also, avoid burning the laminate boards as the top aluminum oxide wear layer gives off toxic fumes that are harmful to your health and can cause breathing problems.

Easy to Dispose

Disposing damaged or leftover laminate planks is easy as you can just take them out with the trash. If you have plenty of surplus materials, you sell them on the internet to someone who needs small portions to repair their laminate floors.

Hypoallergenic

Since laminate planks have a wear layer of aluminum oxide that doesn’t accumulate dirt and dust, it is a great option for basement flooring for those with asthma and other allergies. Moreover, laminate floors are durable, easy to clean, and do not trap microscopic triggers.

Carpets’ fibrous nature traps dust, dust mites, pollen, dirt, mildew, pet dander, and other microscopic triggers. The plastic laminates’ hard surface does not trap any of these allergens.

Vinyl flooring comes with click and lock floating floor installation, so you will not have to use glue. Since some adhesives contain VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), which are known allergens and can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, coughing, and throat irritation.

Modern superior quality laminate floors have a water-resistant back layer which protects the boards from mildew and mold growth. However, most lower-quality vinyl flooring has formaldehyde, an asthma trigger. Pick the boards that do not have VOC-laden lacquers to ensure they are hypoallergenic.

Comfortable and Cushy

They feel hard underfoot because vinyl flooring is manufactured under intense heat and pressure. But, you can get that springy and softer feel by installing an underlayment.

Moreover, modern laminate floors are available in textured and slip-resistant options. Their texture mirrors the adjacent layer’s pattern to create a realistic appearance mimicking actual wood grain.

Variety of Designs and Colors

Modern waterproof vinyl flooring mimics any natural flooring material; stone, bamboo, and wood. Also, they are manufactured without defects for consistent board appearance and quality. This helps in a seamless installation process without having to trim boards.

You can choose from various wood styles, from hardwoods like ash and oak to softwoods like cypress and pine. Vinyl flooring is available in various levels of plank styles, thicknesses, and limitless color varieties.

You can choose various color tones to match your basement’s style and decor. You can choose a modern and cool look or go with an elegant and rich theme.

Subflooring Compatibility

Laminate floors offer glueless installations, which increases their range of applications giving them a significant advantage over other flooring types that require gluing, stapling, or nailing for installation.

One of the biggest advantages of laminate flooring is that you can install them over any subflooring in your basement as long as it is clean, flat, and dry. If installed properly, the laminate floor will coexist with any subfloor, whether stone, vinyl, ceramic tile, wood, or even old laminate floors.

Cons of Laminate Flooring in Basement

Moisture Damage

Even though the surface and back layer of laminate flooring is moisture resistant, it doesn’t make the planks waterproof. The boards can damage due to excess moisture, which is one of the major cons of laminate flooring. The core layer of a laminate board is made of high-density fiberboard, which is susceptible to water damage, especially if water seeps below the protective layer.

You can protect your laminate flooring in the basement by installing a vapor barrier underneath the flooring. You can lay a plastic sheet and secure it with duct tape on the subflooring, which will work as a vapor barrier and prevent moisture damage.

Moreover, you can minimize the water damage by installing waterproof laminate flooring, limiting the exposure to excess water and preventing major spills. 

Not Hardwood

Although laminate floors can imitate the look and feel of hardwood floors, they are not natural wood. Therefore, you will not reap the benefits of having original wooden floors, like increasing the resale value of your house.

Difficult to Refinish

Genuine hardwood planks can be refinished up to seven times, but this is not the case with laminate boards which are more of single-use products. Sanding and refinishing laminate floors can ruin the structure and look of the boards. Sanding laminate boards can strip it off the protective wear layer, making it more susceptible to water damage which is one of the major cons of laminate flooring.

If any section of laminate floorboards in your basement has sustained damage, you will have to replace those boards with new ones. Replacing new laminate floorboards is easy thanks to the simple locking mechanism of the floorboards.

Noisy

Laminate floorings produce hollow sounds and get uncomfortable to walk on, especially when installed without a proper underlayment. Moreover, poor installation can make your laminate floor creak in the basement. If the laminate floor is installed over an uneven surface, the boards will snap and pop when you walk on them.