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Wood Floors in Basements
Sources of Moisture & Water That Effect  Wood Floor Products




























With the introduction of engineered wood flooring, hardwood floors can be used in virtually every room in the house, even in basements. Water on or near the building site is still a consideration, however. It cannot be ignored or neglected.

Installing Wood Floors Below-grade and On-grade

 Which Floor What Room?

What wood floor for what room ??????



Moisture comes from a variety of sources-from the earth itself, from surface water (i.e., rain water runoff), as well as from the interior atmosphere. Let's consider the various ways that moisture problems originate, and how they can be controlled and prevented.

A room that is exposed to excessive moisture would be prone to trouble if solid wood flooring were installed in it. Basement floors are particularly tricky installations. But some products, such as laminated flooring, may be suitable in many of these circumstances because of their dimensional stability.

The use of these alternative materials is necessary when the installation is below-grade. "Below grade" is defined as any part of the slab having four inches or more of earth above it. Additionally, walk-out basements are considered a below-grade application, even if a portion of the basement is above ground.

Most engineered flooring consists of two or more layers of wood glued together, with the grain of each running at 90 degree angles to the layers adjacent This tends to result in increased dimensional stability.

Use of Engineered Wood Flooring Products
Engineered Wood Floors-uses multiple layers of wood glued together, with the grain of each running at 90-degree angles to the layers adjacent. As the wood fibers absorb moisture and want to expand, each layer is restrained by the other and improved dimensional stability results.

Because it displays far less expansion and contraction with moisture changes, laminated flooring can be successfully installed in areas with wide humidity variations. It usually does not require full acclimation before installation. In on-grade or above-grade installations, various flooring types can be used: solid or laminated. Moisture is still a consideration, although it is less likely to cause problems than in below-grade installations. Once the grade limitations are determined, it's time to look at other potential sources of moisture.

Moisture Barrier Methods for Basement Installation of Wood Flooring Products

On top of the concrete slab and prior to installation of the basement hardwood floor, another vapor barrier should be installed. These vapor barriers can be:

  1. PVC applied over the slab with a multipurpose adhesive.
  2. 6 mil polyethylene sheets embedded into a skim coat of asphalt mastic.
  3. 15 pound roofing felt embedded into a skim coat of asphalt mastic.


During the building of a new home, moisture can Moisture can enter the house in a number of ways. When the frame is going up, the 2-by-4s and subfloor materials often get rained on. Because builders usually work on tight, demanding schedules, homes are sometimes built trapping moisture that needs time to evaporate. The amount of moisture introduced by framing lumber and the wet trades can be significant. 
See Moisture Detection Equipment

Potential Sources of Moisture ( see US Moisture Map & EMC Chart)

GROUND WATER: Sometimes the level of the water in the ground is raised above the bottom surface of the foundation due to: