Northern Virginia received an unprecedented amount of rainfall this summer. In fact, it rained a whole year’s worth in a couple months. We are facing the brunt of global climate change and it will worsen as the years go on. This will mean more flooding, more home damage, and more floor damage as well. For our basements, this means we must consider flooding as an inevitability. As sea levels rise and our waters become hotter, the ground will become saturated early into the summer. A saturated ground means that when water falls, the ground can’t soak up anymore, so the water flows somewhere else.
What to Know Before Buying a Home
For anyone looking to buy a house, you now have a lot more factors to consider. How much risk is there for flooding in your neighborhood and how will that change over time? Flooding insurance will have to be added to your home insurance (we highly, highly recommend you don’t skip it), and will your housing value drop as more flooding occurs?
Shifting from a Storage Space to an Informal Living Space
For current homeowners, this means rethinking how we use our basements. If you use it to store valuables, it might be best to move them someplace higher, like your attic or in a storage facility. You may also want to avoid hardwood or carpet flooring there, as they will be damaged by flood water.
It might be a good idea to change your basement to stone or tile. Tile would be our recommendation, we have plenty of designs that can keep your basement looking elegant without making a risk for when basement flooding occurs.
This post is not to say that basements are obsolete, far from it. The current trend is to turn them into comfortable living spaces. While storage may move to the attic, you get a lot more room to form an informal guest room. If you keep all of your furniture elevated, then your options grow even more, because they’re less likely to be damaged by any flooding.
Times are changing and so is our environment. It’s important we adapt to these changes before we face thousands of dollars in damages. Even something like changing the flooring now could save you a lot of money in the long run.
Finishing your basement will not only add an extra space for entertaining or for your children to extend their imagination, it also adds value to your home. We’ve often seen basements after they’ve been finished albeit incorrectly and have been called in to fix the mistakes the previous person or company made. When you’re ready to convert this space, avoid these costly mistakes!
- Ignoring Moisture Problems
Don’t underestimate the multiple issues you will have if you don’t have a perfectly dry and secure basement. The impact of moisture can cause issues with your walls, floors, and eventually cause cracks in the foundation. Apply waterproof paint to the concrete walls after any repairs to add an additional layer of moisture protection. It may also be worth it to have an inspection of your basement to ensure an issue hasn’t presented itself quietly under your nose. Have the inspector check window frames, corners of the walls, and the area around your sump pump (if you have one in the basement). Take a walk around the outside of your house to be sure soil slopes away from your foundation, clean out gutters and window wells too.
- Blocking Utilities
Yes, we understand how unsightly a hot water heater, sump pump and furnace can be. Of course, you want to make them a part of your design, but not leaving enough space for maintenance and repair work will cause unnecessary blocks between you and a solution to an issue. Add a battery backup and alert system to your sump pump if it’s really too ugly to keep from hiding. If the unit needs attention, you’ll be alerted before it’s too late.
- Improper Flooring Install
Here of course is where we get called in. Many times a homeowner will hire a contractor to finish their basement and that same contractor will be expected to put in the flooring. A contractor (no disrespect) is not a flooring specialist, and shouldn’t be trusted to do the job of a flooring professional. Take the time to do it right the first time. You may think you’re getting a deal, but if you have to pay them, and then pay us to fix their mistakes, how much of a deal are you really getting?
- Overlooking Comfort
The whole point of a finished basement is to have another place to either retire to, to entertain, or a space for your children to enjoy. Don’t overlook comfort in your overall design! Keep the area warm and comfortable during cold months by installing a separate thermostat. Keep it cool by adding registers that are connected to the central air system. Central air will also keep the room air dry making the quality of it fresh and odor-free.
Call us to discuss the steps you need to take before embarking on finishing your basement. We will work with you and your contractor to get the right flooring installed, and give you the perfect area that adds value to your home!
When the kids are growing up, many times, the basement is used as a children’s space. Bright, colorful walls, carpeting, and toys make it a great space to divide the adults from the children and give them a place to grow and play. But after the years have passed, and the children are all grown up, you’re left with a basement that looks more like a preschool than an alternate place to entertain. Transform your space into a place you can either entertain friends, or relax in a more mature setting with just a few changes.
Most basements are lacking in light, so choose colors that will reflect the light you have by painting the walls a light color with a gray undertone. Using a color with a gray undertone will not only evoke a soothing feel to the room, it’s also a more mature, sophisticated tone. Try blue-gray, green-gray, or beige-gray (“greige”). These colors are also great neutral backdrops to set the stage for the furniture.
If you want pops of color, choose to wallpaper one wall as an accent wall, or add bright pillows or accents. If your flooring allows, add color through area rugs or with throws. Hanging unique wall art will also spruce up the basement and give it a more adult hangout vibe.
Choosing furniture for your basement is slightly different than in the main area of the home. Most people want their basement to have a cozy, cave like feel to it, so choosing comfortable chairs, cushioned sofas, and perhaps a sectional. Choose soft fabrics like microfiber to give the room an even cozier feel. If you have windows, even if they’re small ones, put up curtains to give it more if an “established room” look.
Flooring is probably the single most effective way to transform a space, and with the basement, choosing something extraordinary will pull the whole room together. Choose a flooring that reflects your style, and feel free to get a little fancy! Use two different types of flooring for separation purposes, or use one type for a clean look throughout. Luxury vinyl tile works great in a basement as a way to make the space look more sophisticated, yet still be durable and moisture resistant at the same time.
Don’t be afraid to add accents as needed to make the space fit the overall look of the room you desire. Talk to one of our design experts who will help you pull together the look you want and make the space adult-friendly!
In our last blog, we reviewed what we think are the best flooring options for your basement. A basement can be a fickle area; most times a very useful space, and sometimes a potential disaster waiting to happen. You can minimize the damage with a very well performing sump pump, well placed drains, an expertly sealed floor and walls, plus the right kind of flooring.
We’ve stated the ones we think our the best in order, here, we will continue on with what we think are the best choices down to the worst of what kind of flooring you should consider for your basement.
Cork is quickly becoming a popular choice for main floor options, and is now also becoming quite popular as a flooring choice for the basement. It’s insulation qualities against cold basement floors, and the feel of softness underfoot makes it a great candidate. Couple that with the fact that cork flooring is a mostly all natural product (being produced mostly by cork trees), and it seems like the perfect choice for your basement floors. Not so fast. Yes, cork is organic, which means it’s prone to deterioration and roll cork can be quite difficult to install.
Rubber flooring may be an unusual choice, but if it’s commonly used in gyms, garages, and pools, why wouldn’t it be a good choice for your basement? If the basement is going to be a mostly play area, we say go for it! It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing flooring; however, its waterproof, insulates against cold basement floors, and is a soft surface to walk on. Choose this until the kids are old enough to turn the area into the grown-up entertaining area of your dreams.
Engineered Wood flooring is not lost as a basement flooring option; however, it is important to know this is probably one of the most expensive. If you have a basement that’s meant to wow, this is definitely the right choice for you. The look is quite attractive, however it should be known it’s not the best at keeping out moisture. The solid hardwood is probably the worst for a basement that may possibly get a little wet.
Again, if this is a basement that’s never seen water, and is part of a higher end home, we say go for it! If not, there are so many other options you should consider first that will give you that luxurious look and feel (like luxury vinyl) without the luxurious price, or fear of getting ruined at the first sight of water.
Set up your appointment to discuss the history of your basement (even if all of that history wasn’t with you as its owner), so we can help you find the perfect flooring for your dream basement!
If you’ve changed your basement flooring, the recent snowstorm may have taught you a thing or two: you either made an excellent decision, or wasted your money on flooring that now has to be thrown away due to flooding. It’s not easy on any basement, even the most iron-clad to absorb that much snow, plus rain, plus warm air that melts all that snow quicker than the soil can take it in. However, if you’ve made the right decision on your flooring, you may not have to worry too much about your basement.
Questions You Should Ask First
Before you can decide on a type of flooring you have to first ask yourself, and your home, these questions:
Does my basement flood regularly?
Is there existing flooring?
Do I need to make repairs to my basement (cracks, etc.) before I can lay a new flooring down?
You will need to take care of these issues before you can begin shopping for new flooring. As you tick off the answers to those questions, you will also need to ask of your new flooring:
Will this flooring dry out easily? For example, ceramic tile dries out quite easily and does quite well in basements, but that doesn’t rule out laminate or wood. It’s just better with water damage. Also, you’ll have to assess whether you will need a foam underlay or will the flooring be installed directly onto concrete slab. Sometimes, you may need to have a sub-floor installed. This is an assessment one of our flooring experts will help you in finding.
From best to worst, we’ve ranked our flooring to make your choice easier. We believe these choices are the best overall, and will make your basement a functional alternate living area!
Vinyl flooring is also known as resilient flooring and ranks up there with concrete and ceramic as one of the better choices available. Vinyl comes in either sheet or tile form, and with the newest advances in vinyl, you can achieve really any look you want without having to worry about it getting ruined. The cost of vinyl varies from quite affordable to slightly expensive (with luxury vinyl), and is also considered to be warmer to the touch than ceramic or concrete, however, it does need a very clean, smooth surface to adhere properly.
Yes, porcelain is not known for being a very strong or sturdy material; however porcelain tile in long narrow planks looks almost exactly like wood, is waterproof, extremely modern looking and is highly desirable in today’s design world. Yes, it is expensive, and cold to the touch, however, with radiant heating, it will pay for itself in the end!
Most people would scoff at the idea of putting carpet in a bathroom or kitchen because of the moisture implications, so why are so many ready to put carpet in a basement that is susceptible to flooding? If your basement is generally bone-dry, with the installation of a sub-floor, you can make carpeting work.
Next week we will finish off our list of basement flooring, however, if you’re ready to make the plunge to finish that basement, consider contacting one of our specialists where you can get the whole list at once, and find the best option for you!