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16 Pros and Cons of Laminate Flooring in Basements

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Laminate flooring has become a staple in the residential flooring scene since its debut several decades ago. Homeowners were swept away by this attractive, durable, easy to install, and affordable alternative to hardwood flooring. Laminate floors are found in just about every room in the house, but are they any good in the basement?

Laminate flooring is the best choice for decorating a large living space, such as your basement. Cheap and affordable, laminate floors create a beautiful and stylish yet low maintenance flooring without breaking the bank. Better yet, laminate floors don’t require professional installation.

The decision to install laminate flooring in your basement depends on your budget and specific flooring needs. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of having laminate flooring in your basement.

The Pros of Laminate Flooring in the Basements

There are numerous upsides to installing laminate floors in the basement. Ultimately, the choice boils down to preference and your primary objective when decorating the room. Modern laminate floors feature deep texturing, micro bevels, and excellent graphics and perform just as well as solid hardwood – if not better.

These floors come with a tough protective coating that makes them really strong and durable . In many cases, you will not need to worry about things like furniture, heels, or pet nails creating scratch marks all over your floors.

Let’s examine each of the pros of installing laminate flooring in your basement so you can make an informed decision if you wish to spruce up your home.

Budget-Friendly

Laminate flooring is an excellent choice if looking to give your basement a classy and durable look without breaking the bank. On average, the cost of plastic laminate flooring depends on the type of wood.

The cost of laminate flooring per square foot ranges from $0.70 for oak and maple, to $0.90 for walnut, to $1.00 for varieties like beech, cherry, and acacia. Hickory laminates are the most expensive at $2.00 per square foot.

Bespoke and designer laminate floors can set you back as much as $10.00 per square foot, inclusive of a professional installation fee. However, you’ll find excellent quality laminate flooring options in the $2.00 to $3.00 range to fill all your styling and decorative needs.

The print layer’s quality and the thickness of the wear layer largely determine the cost of plastic laminate. Given that laminate floors are relatively inexpensive, it’s advisable to buy the best quality you can afford.

Since laminate floors are easy to install, hiring a professional installer comes cheap too. The average cost of hiring an expert (materials plus labor) is typically around $5.00 per square foot. Comparatively, installing hardwood flooring could set you back as much as $15.00 to $20.00 per square foot.

Easy to Install

Laminate floors are becoming increasingly easy to install, even for the average DIY enthusiasts. In contrast, the older varieties required glue or nails, but that’s no longer the case with modern types.

This flooring uses a custom tongue and groove system known as fold-lock or click and lock that allows quick and seamless interlocking. You can interlock the boards, end to end as well as edge-to-edge.

You don’t need specialty skills or experience to install a laminate floor in your basement. However, it takes a considerable amount of knowledge and practice to bring out the best patterns on your laminate floors.

Here’s a useful video detailing the process:

A laminate floorboard is comprised of a particleboard core, making it easy to cut them down to size with a miter saw if you need a smaller size.

The installation process entails laying the interlocking laminate boards on a underlayment without gluing them down. Laminate board planks are joined edge-to-edge to form rows across the floor.

NOTE: With a little practice, the average homeowner can improve their skills and achieve clos to professional-grade results.

Extremely Durable

Despite sometimes being referred to as plastic floor, laminate floors aren’t made from plastic. The plastic label stuck because the initial models sacrificed design and appearance for affordability, giving the boards a cheap, plastic-like appearance.

Laminate flooring is comprised of four layers – wear, design, core, and back layer – with each layer serving a distinct purpose. All four layers are fused under intense pressure and heat to create a beautiful and durable product.

  • Wear layer: A transparent top layer made from aluminum oxide that protects laminate floors from stains, fading, and surface burns.
  • Design layer: Sits below the top layer and is made of a high-resolution photograph of the floor pattern.
  • Core layer: Sits between the back and design layer and is made of a hardy, high-density board that guards against moisture and indentations.
  • Back layer: The water-resistant bottom layer that protects the boards from moisture and keeps them from swelling or warping.

The multi-layer construction makes laminate floors an extraordinarily durable and dynamic low-maintenance product resistant to fading and scratches.

Friendly for Pets and Kids

Laminate flooring can shrug off just about any abuse you can heap on them since they’re resistant to stains, scratches, burns, and moisture. That makes them the perfect flooring if you have pets or kids in the house. The floorboards is much less likely to accumulate dirt and dust, as is the case with a carpet.

The protective wear layer seals the laminate board’s surface to protect your floors from everyday wear and tear. With these floors, you have very little to worry about when it comes to scrapes, scuff marks, or scratches.

Since laminate boards are hard wearing, you can install them in your basement and turn it into a kid’s playroom. Your little one can run around the room all day without even denting the flooring. A simple mop-up is all that’s required to clean away the muddy tracks.

You no longer must contend with damages from pet claws, furniture legs, kids’ toys, or the vacuum cleaner if going with an option that includes a durable wear layer and is sealed correctly.

Low Maintenance and Repair

Thanks to an aluminum oxide wear layer, laminate floors are extremely easy to clean and maintain. The protective top layer is extremely resistant to stains, lowering the effort necessary to keep it clean.

You can clean your laminate basement floor with a broom, vacuum, damp mop, or a laminate floor cleaner. Never use too much water while mopping as the excess water can seep into the interlocked planks through the seams, causing them to swell.

Since the design layer with the laminate’s pattern sits below the transparent wear layer, it can remain blemish-free for years to come. Some boards come with a projected lifespan of up to 25 years.

Unlike natural wooden floors, wooden laminate floors don’t require additional care other than the occasional damp mopping. Laminate floors require no waxing or varnishing to keep their sheen.

The top layer also protects against dents and scratches to keep your basement floor in great shape.

Some laminate floors ship out with generous 10+ year warranties on the aluminum oxide wear layer.

Easy Disposal

Disposing of leftover or damaged laminate boards is easy since you can take them out with the trash and have the waste collectors cart it away. If you have plenty of surplus materials, you can sell it over the internet and recover some of your initial investment.

There certainly may be instances where there are buyers in need of a few boxes to repair their laminate floors.

However, if you need to dispose of large quantities of laminate boards, check with the local waste management department. Some local units offer special pick-ups to ensure proper disposal of the laminate boards. If not, you might have to transport the entire load to the nearest landfill.

Recyclable

Although laminate planks comprise four different layers, each plank’s main component is a high-density fiber core (HDF). The HDF is made of compressed wood fibers that are extracted from wood chips.

Therefore, laminate planks are up to 80% wood, and up to 85% of each laminate board’s mass is recyclable. Laminate boards are recycled into fibers or wood chips. However, that doesn’t mean we’re instructing you to dump your old laminate board into the recycling bin.

Most local recycling plants aren’t equipped to recycle laminate boards. Therefore, it is advisable to check with your manufacturer and determine if they have a laminate flooring recycling program. Some manufacturers are amenable to collecting the boards from your doorstep.

NOTE: Although a significant portion of your laminate boards are made of wood, you shouldn’t attempt to burn or incinerate these boards. Burning the top aluminum oxide wear layer produces toxic fumes that could endanger your health.

For the creative individuals, you can upcycle surplus laminate boards or cutoffs into artwork. You can turn laminate panels into welcome signs, coasters, coat racks, and more with a bit of creativity. Upcycling is an excellent way to repurpose surplus laminate boards instead of shipping them off to a landfill.

Hypoallergenic

Since laminate boards are covered by a wear layer made of aluminum oxide, they are a great basement flooring option for individuals who have asthma and other allergies. The hard and durable surface is easy to clean, doesn’t moisture, nor trap microscopic triggers.

Due to their fibrous nature, carpets trap multiple microscopic triggers, including dust, mildew, dust mites, dirt, pollen, pet dander, and more. The hard and durable surface of plastic laminates won’t trap any of these allergens.

Modern laminate floors lend themselves to click and lockand floating installation, so they don’t require glue. Some adhesives come laden with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are known allergens.

High levels of VOC in the home can lead to headaches, nausea, dizziness, coughing, and nose, eye, and throat irritation.

Superior quality laminate floors also come with a water-resistant back layer to protect against mold and mildew spores’ growth. However, only laminate floors in the higher price range are hypoallergenic.

Most manufacturers in the lower price range use formaldehyde, a known asthma trigger, to bind the boards. It would help if you established which brand doesn’t use VOC-laden lacquers to enjoy this benefit.

Diverse Choice of Colors & Designs

Laminate flooring design mimics just about any natural flooring material on the market, including stone, wood, and bamboo. Some boards are deeply embossed to resemble wood planks with beautiful grains.

Unlike natural wood, laminate floors are manufactured without defects to deliver consistent quality and board appearance; this allows for a seamless installation process without the need to trim or discard the boards.

You can choose different wood styles ranging from softwoods such as pine and cypress to hardwoods such as oak and ash. The boards come in various levels of thickness, plank styles, and limitless color varieties.

You can pick any color tone to match your basement’s décor and style it to make a bold statement. You can opt for a cool and modern look or go with a rich and elegant theme if you wish.

NOTE: Laminate floors only resemble wood floors from a distance. The similarity to stone and wooden floors disappears when examining planks closer. 

Most laminate flooring brands have 5 to 10 board patterns, which leads to board repetition on the floor. Careful installation can help minimize this telltale sign and give your basement floor an authentic hardwood feel.

Cushy and Convenient

Given that laminate floors are manufactured under intense pressure and heat, they can feel hard underfoot. However, installing a underlayment gives laminate flooring a softer, springy feel and eliminates the common hollow sounds.

These are best 3 underlayments I recommend

While traditional designs were quite slippery, laminate flooring manufacturers have developed slip-resistant and textured options. In superior quality laminate boards, the embossed texture mirrors the adjacent layer’s pattern to create a realistic appearance. Such panels have an embossment that mimics actual wood grain, making it hard to distinguish from the real thing.

TIP: If you wish for your laminate floors to have the real hardwood boards’ acoustics, opt for the thicker and more expensive 12 or 15 mm boards.

Works With All Subflooring

Modern laminate boards lend themselves to glueless installation, which increases its range of application. This gives them a significant advantage over flooring types that require stapling, gluing, or nailing during installation.

You can float laminate panels over any flooring or subflooring you have in your basement. The substrate only needs to be flat, clean, and dry, and you can lay laminate over it.

With proper installation, the new basement flooring will coexist with the existing floors, including vinyl, stone, wood, or even existing laminate floors; this allows for faster and cheaper installation of new basement flooring. It also eliminates the need to contract a professional to carry out the installation.

Homeowners can install laminate flooring in their basement and still achieve excellent results. Since they use a click and lock mechanism, you don’t require special tools other than a saw to trim some of the panels to fit into smaller spaces.

The Cons of Laminate Flooring in the Basements

Let’s name some of the con’s of laminate flooring.

Not Authentic Hardwood Floors

Although laminate hardwood floors may feel and look like genuine hardwood, they are not natural wood. As a result, you must forgo some of the benefits that come with having original wooden floors, such as increasing your home’s resale value.

In many cases, laminate floor panels may improve your home’s aesthetic appeal but not its value.

Susceptible to Moisture Damage

While the back layer on laminate flooring is moisture resistant, it doesn’t make the planks moisture-proof. Therefore, these boards won’t stand up to excess water.

NOTE: To avoid a moisture problem in your basement, you need to lay a vapor barrier before installing the flooring.

This can be as simple as laying a plastic sheet and securing it with duct tape on the subflooring to prevent moisture damage.

However, for the best results, you should install waterproof laminate flooring in the basement. Exposing your floors to excessive water or a major spill can damage your basement flooring extensively.

Susceptible to Water Damage

Laminate boards are made up of a core layer made of high-density fiberboard, which is more vulnerable to water damage than natural lumber. While laminate floors can tolerate cleaning and mopping, water can often seep below the protective layer into the core.

When HDF is exposed to excessive water, it deteriorates and expands; this causes the laminate boards to buckle, ruining the appearance of your floor.

In some cases (and depending on the severity of the damage), you may have no choice but to replace the affected planks. Trying to refinish a laminate board may only serve to damage it further.

Difficult to Refinish

Unlike wooden planks that can be refinished up to seven times, laminate boards are a single-use product. You can’t sand or refinish damaged laminate boards since that’d further ruin its integrity and structure. For instance, sanding can remove the protective wear layer and destroy its water-resistant qualities.

If the floorboards in a section of your basement sustain damage, you will likely need to replace them with fresh ones. Luckily, the simple locking mechanism makes it easy to repair areas of damaged basement flooring.

Can Get Noisy

Laminate boards can get noisy and produce a hollow sound if they’re installed without a proper underlayment. Poor installation can also lead to a creaky laminate floor in the basement. The panels will snap and pop whenever you walk on a floor installed over an uneven surface.

Wrapping Things Up

There are so many benefits when if comes to installing laminate floors in your basement. They can be an option that can last for decades if installed, cleaned, and maintained properly.

Our hope is that this article gave you a good picture of the qualities that make laminate floors a great option for your basement, and some of the downsides to consider before making a final purchase decision.