Basement spaces are difficult to choose floor coverings for. Typically they are cold, damp, dark and uninviting spaces. With the cost of homes and real estate these days, people are looking to create more usable space out of existing floor plans. By turning garages and basements into finished living spaces, homeowners are creating new offices, media rooms and suites as mortgage helpers. (see Why a Finished Basement?)
Picking the best type of basement flooring depends on the condition of your basement slab, whether or not your basement is waterproof, and your climate. Bad moisture problems are usually an indication of a perimeter drain or foundation wall issue, these usually need to be addressed prior to moving ahead with a renovation. Small amounts of moisture are typical of a space that is underground, especially the older the house is. In these cases, it is best to use concrete or a another breathable surface that will allow moisture to wick, rather than be trapped. Trapping moisture will result in damage to floor coverings, buckling and the possibility of mould growth.
Hot water tanks don’t burst often, but when they do you might as well say goodbye to your floor coverings. The resulting insurance claim will likely cover new materials, but leave a complete mess. Hardwood will cup and lift when saturated with water, same goes for laminate. Laminate looks good for the short term, but is easily damaged by moisture in the slab or high traffic environments such as dog claws.
Solution – Polished Concrete
Often an existing concrete slab can be polished, which creates more head room, allows the slab to breath, and has diverse design options. Szolyd’s sister company, Stone Design can access the quality of the slab and if it is a good candidate for polishing. If the original slab is not deemed usable, cementitious overlays can be installed over existing concrete floors. Stone design has embraced SCC (self consolidating concrete), as a alternative to polymer modified overlays (check back for future blogs on this topic).
Polishing the concrete, creates a shine through the mechanical process, leaving a gorgeous finish that allows moisture to wick if necessary. Polish concrete is resilient to moisture issues and can stand up to high traffic environments. One of the only complaints about polished concrete is that it is cold, this is true but also the same for tile and other hard surfaces. Often clients will use area rugs, which can be easily taken out and cleaned, unlike mildew and bacteria accumulating carpet. Hydronic heading or electric cables can be embedded in a new topping layer of concrete, this process will add substantial costs but result in a warm concrete floor.
Benefits of polished concrete for basements
- moisture resulting from bad perimeter drains will breathe through the slab (the problem still needs to be addressed).
- unlike hardwood, polished concrete holds up to dogs claws and high traffic environments.
- polished concrete looks good in all types of homes and fits with many aesthetics.
- polished concrete will not need to be ripped out if a hot water tank floods (cleaning/ burnishing might be required).
- polished concrete is highly sustainable, especially if an existing slab is utilized.
- polished concrete is affordable, costing between $4-$8 per sq/ft on average for basements.
- polished concrete is versatile. Glass and metal can be broadcast into new slabs, dyes and pigments can be added, patterns can be stencilled into the floor, and it can be satin/ high gloss or any thing in between.
- polished concrete will not take away from ceiling heights in low spaces such as basements.
- polished concrete reflects light to minimize lighting requirements.
- polished concrete is non allergenic unlike carpeting.
- polished concrete breathes, therefore reducing the likelihood of mould and bacteria growth.
Victoria Stone Design operates all over Vancouver Island and the lower mainland. Our goal is to educate potential clients about the process and benefits to using polished concrete. We know where we add value, and will tell you if there might be a better solution even if it means selling ourselves out of a project. For a consultation, or quote please call or email: