When it comes to installing hardwood flooring in basements, there are two main types of flooring that can be used, provided your basement is moisture sealed to prevent water from rising through the concrete floor and damaging the hardwood. The two types available for basement installation are glue-down hardwood and free floating hardwood. Each has their pros and cons, and each are relatively painless to install on your own.
Also, both types of hardwood flooring will provide silent hardwood in your basement, since you’re not nailing down hardwood sheets onto a plywood subfloor, which often allows the flooring to move.
Hardwood Flooring: Glue-Down Method
The glue-down method of installing hardwood flooring in your basement first requires that your basement surface is completely level. If not, use a self-leveling grout specifically designed to be combined with engineered hardwood floors before doing anything else. Once your floor is level, clean it of any additional dust and debris to ensure the glue will stick.
With a piece of chalk, draw a straight line in the middle of your main basement room – this will help to ensure that your entire floor isn’t skewed or laid crookedly. What you’ll need to do is screw down several pieces of hardwood flooring along this line, which you’ll then use as a guide for laying the rest of the pieces.
Using only the kind of glue recommended to work with your flooring, use a trowel of recommended notch size to trowel the glue onto the floor. Be sure to read the instructions on the glue label so that you don’t spread more glue than you can use before it dries. Using too much glue will require more coats, which could cause your floor surface to become uneven – and ruin your work.
With a piece of scrap flooring and a hammer, tap together each tongue and groove piece to ensure a tight fit. You don’t want any gaps between the boards, so do this along each piece – and then do it again just to be sure. When you get to the wall, don’t force the flooring next to it. Leave a half inch between the wall and the hardwood, which you’ll later cover over with baseboard.
After your entire floor is laid, use a weight of at least 20lbs to roll over the entire floor, pressing the hardwood down onto the glue. Wait for the whole thing to dry, and you’re done!
Hardwood Flooring: Free-Floating Method
Free-floating hardwood flooring in basements is just what the name suggests: the flooring itself isn’t actually attached to the basement floor. A layer of foam is placed onto the basement concrete instead, removing some of the potential for an uneven surface, and assisting in noise reduction.
Free-floating hardwood flooring actually snaps together like a jigsaw puzzle, though some brands will require gluing between the boards themselves to create one large, single unit. The idea is that the entire floor will expand and contract together when there are changes in the weather, avoiding any potentially raised boards or cracking after sudden temperature shifts.
When you place the free-floating hardwood on the floor, again be sure to leave a half inch border between the floor and the wall, which you’ll cover with baseboards later. This will also be your floor’s space for expansion and contraction.