How to Keep Basement Floors Warm

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A finished basement can add value to your home and increase your home's living space. But although this extra space can be very useful, it can also be very cold, especially in the winter. However, there are a few different ways you can keep basement floors warm in every season.

Things You'll Need

  • Gravel
  • Polystyrene board
  • Sheet plastic
  • Builder's tape
  • Plywood
  • Radiant heating system
  • Your choice of flooring
  • Area rugs
  • Non-skid rug backing

Insulate the basement floor. If you are still building your home and the concrete basement slab is not yet in place, spread a layer of gravel on the ground, and cover it with 1-inch-thick polystyrene board. Use builder's tape to seal the joints between the polystyrene boards. Cover the boards with plastic sheeting, preferably 5 millimeters thick, overlapping at least 6 inches at the seams. Tape the plastic seams with the builder’s tape, and pour the basement slab.

Once your slab is set, or if your basement slab was already in place, install a wood sub-floor before installing your choice of flooring. Do not install any type of flooring directly on the concrete slab. A wood sub-floor acts as an insulator between the concrete slab and your chosen flooring, preventing the cold from seeping through the slab to the basement floor's surface.

If you already have a finished floor in your basement, you may be able to install your new floor over it. In this case, the old floor may serve as an insulating layer. This will only work for hard floors in good condition. Carpet or damaged floors must be pulled up first. You can reuse the old sub-floor if it is in good condition or install a new one if there is no existing sub-floor or it is damaged.

Install a radiant floor heating system in your basement. These systems use electricity, heated air or heated water to create a warm floor from underneath. The most affordable of these systems is the type that uses heated water. For this reason, the heated water system is the one most commonly found in homes. The system pumps the heated water through plastic pipes laid beneath the floor, curving from side to side. Radiant floor heating systems generally heat the water to around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so the floor is always warm. The system automatically adjusts the flow of water according to outside temperatures. You can install nearly any type of flooring over a radiant floor heating system.

If you choose carpet for your basement floor, select a thick carpet pad and a deep pile carpet. The layers of carpet and pad will also be soft on your feet, making for a comfortable and warm floor.

Add area rugs to your basement floor. Area rugs will add to the decor of your basement, and a thick area rug will help achieve a warm floor. Area rugs are especially helpful to warm hard floors like vinyl, wood or tile. They will also add an extra layer of softness and warmth to a carpeted floor.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not place area rugs directly on slick flooring such as tile, wood, or laminate. Always affix non-skid backing to the rug first.

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