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Best Flooring For A Flooding-Prone Basement

Stephen asks, on our post What is the best flooring for a basement?

Hello David

My wife and I are in the process of fixing our basement following some water flooding. We currently have wool carpet which we will not use again..and there are concerns with future flooding. We thought that laminate with a vapour subfloor would be the best thing but after reading your info, it appears that laminate is not the best flooring for the basement. With vinyl flooring, are there any concerns with the toxins in the glue that are used to install the floor. My family..wife and two kids are alergic to certain chemicals. Any advice would be appreciated.


Hi, Stephen,
I definitely agree that vinyl is the way to go in a basement likely to flood, but your best options would require no glue at all. Let me explain product by product, as there are two really good ones.

Loose Lay Vinyl Planks

These are probably the best of our 100% waterproof floors for your situation. As the installation video in that linked post shows, these literally just lay in place. No glue is used, and there isn’t even a locking mechanism. Why is it the best option?

1. It’s 100% waterproof. With a laminate, hardwood, cork, basically any other non-stone floor, once a flood happens, your floor is essentially gone. You have to buy a new one. These planks will survive any flooding. Your flood is going to do what it’s going to do to the basement itself, and there will be some clean-up no matter what, but once you’ve taken care of the water, these very same planks can go right back down and become your floor again.

Pull it up, clean what you need to, put it back down!  Easy-peasey.

Pull it up, clean what you need to, put it back down! Easy-peasey.

2. Cleaning underneath is easy. If you have a regular puddling, or just some big spill, something less than a full flood which you need to dry out, these planks just lift right up. You can do whatever you need with the floor underneath, then dry the planks with a paper towel and put them right back down. With a glue-down floor, if the adhesive holds, you might get trapped moisture, and your subfloor may grow mold. If the adhesive doesn’t survive the event, then you would need more adhesive. Neither are great options. For Loose Lay, the glue is gravity.

The fact that these are planks instead of sheet vinyl is beneficial too. If you have a regular wet area on your floor, a big, room-sized sheet would have to be pulled up and rolled back to the spot so you could clean under it, then re-glued. That’s a pretty big task.

3. It’s thick. One issue with basement floors is that they can be cold to the foot. Our Loose Lay products are thicker, and more important – denser – then most sheet flooring. These floors are better insulated and warmer underfoot.

Click Together Vinyl Planks

Angle Angle Laminate and Vinyl Flooring
Since click together floors have been around for almost 20 years with laminates and their like, some people are more comfortable with them than they are with a new technology like Loose Lay. That’s understandable, and they’re a great option too.

1. They are 100% waterproof in the exact same way.

2. Cleaning can be done underneath, but there is a little more of a process to get into the room. You would have to pull these up from the wall to the area you need to deal with, then re-install it back to the wall. It’s still much better than glue-down, especially a big sheet, but it takes more work than a Loose Lay.

Neither of these two floors are installed with a moisture barrier, nor any padding at all, so another way Loose Lay can be a slightly better option is that we have some thicker Loose Lay floors, warmer floors.


Will Adhesives Hurt Us?

Not necessarily. In the case of a recurring flood situation, I really don’t recommend a floor needing adhesive for anyone, but if your family has allergy issues, you have an additional reason to avoid it. The issue is that you can know what you’re allergic to, but with any of these products it can be hard to find out exactly what they’re are made of, what the ingredients are. It can be a trade secret, you see.

Adhesive Info

As of the date of this post, our glue-down vinyl floors use an adhesive called “Roberts 2310″. We keep the documentation for Roberts 2310 online, both the main instructions and info sheet, and the Material Safety Data Sheet. Our adhesive is documented to be free of toxins by listing the laws and standards it meets. There are quite a few of these, especially on the MSDS. Here is just one quote:

Adhesives and Toxins

Enviro Friendly:
• Solvent free • VOC: 0 g/L and 0% by weight
Roberts 2310 is a solvent free adhesive and meets the strict requirements of the South Coast Air Quality Management District and may contribute one LEED point for “Low-Emitting Material–Adhesive and Sealant” (IEQ Credit 4.1). This product may also contribute one to two LEED points for MR Credit 5 if product is manufactured within 500 miles of the project site. Visit usgbc.org for additional details. Roberts 2310 is protected by GoldGuard®, an antimicrobial protection system that inhibits the growth of mold, mildew and odor causing bacteria in both wet and dry adhesive.

This is really good, but your family still may have an issue with a specific chemical that is otherwise not a general hazard. You need to do your research on any chemical you might use, but the manufacturers are required to tell you how well they meet a whole bunch of safety standards, not how they make their glues, so this could be more than just a tough job. It’s another reason for you, specifically, to consider going with something other than a glue-down floor.


More basement information:
What is the best flooring for a basement?
What are the worst floors for a basement?


– – – –
W. David Lichty is the Content Guy at Floors To Your Home (.com). In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’) and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on Google+

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W. David Lichty is the Content Guy at Floors To Your Home (.com). In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in 'play with Beatles multi-tracks') and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on Google+

Posted in Customer Q & A, Vinyl Flooring, waterproof, Which Floor for Which Room?

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