05 Dec Basement Floors: Stained Concrete or Epoxy?
A lot of people struggle with how to finish off their basement floors. For some, the basement becomes an extension of their living space. For others, it is an investment in home equity. Maybe it’s meant to serve as a shop or the coveted “man cave.” Regardless, you want function and a good return on your investment. Comfort and style are also important. To meet these needs, the best alternatives for finished basement floors include carpet, stained concrete, and epoxy flooring.
The first things you need to consider before installing your new basement floors are moisture levels, traffic, and the room’s purpose. Obviously, carpet is not a good choice for a shop and stained concrete won’t add warmth to a room. However, before considering anything else, you need to check the determining factor – your moisture levels.
Carpeting Your Basement: Issues and Alternatives
A large number of basements leak at some point. A heavy rain or even foundation issues can cause moisture to make its way into your home. Generally, with concrete floors, you clean it up and move forward. On a normal day, most basements appear dry, but before you invest in carpet you need to check actual humidity levels. Most basement floors are installed without capillary breaks or some sort of vapor barrier to prevent water from wicking through the concrete. That’s why some basements have a cold, damp feel.
An easy way to test whether or not you have moisture transmission from the soil below is to cover the floor with a sheet of plastic. Tape it down on all edges and leave it for 24 hours. If your concrete floor allows moisture through, the underneath of the plastic will be wet.
If moisture accumulates on the plastic then you can be sure it will do the same on your carpet padding. To make matters worse, pet dander, mites, and dust keep the water from evaporating. Ultimately,that trapped moisture leads to mold and mildew. No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to dispel the musty odor that comes with damp carpet. Carpet warms basement floors but does not make sense in humid or wet rooms.
Epoxy Flooring and Stained Concrete: Two Alternatives to Basement Carpet
Two alternatives to laying carpet in a finished basement are an epoxy floor or stained concrete. There are good points and bad points to both choices, but one thing you won’t have to worry about is mold.
(At this point, we would like to point out that both stained concrete and epoxy floors also make good garage floors. The benefits of installing them in the basement directly apply to the use of them in the garage.)
Stained Concrete Basement Floors
Concrete stain works by soaking into the surface of the floor and reacting with the lime in the concrete. Once the reaction takes place, the stain then becomes a permanent part of the floor and won’t fade, chip or peel away.
Because of this, stained concrete requires very little maintenance. However, because the concrete has not yet been coated, moisture continues to wick through the floor into the room. Normally, a dehumidifier running in the corner is enough to keep the room dry. Sealing the concrete will work as long as there is not excess moisture coming through. Trapping the water in the concrete can lead to a disintegrating floor.
One of the cons of concrete stain is the limited color palette. Concrete stains come in earth tones and appear translucent. Intricate patterns and a faux marble effect can make the floor decorative. However, if you wish to brighten a room with color, you should consider another product, epoxy floors.
Epoxy Floors in the Basement
Chances are you’ve heard of epoxy paint. Many DIY companies sell it but, in reality, those products are nothing more than paint with some epoxy thrown into it. A professionally installed epoxy floor is made up of multiple layers of epoxy, chemically bonded together. The biggest difference between an epoxy floor and an epoxy paint is the depth in which it is applied. A true epoxy floor should be at least two millimeters thick. If it is less than that it is best referred to as an epoxy floor coating.
Epoxy flooring consists of resins and hardeners. The two chemically bond to each other to form a rigid, plastic material. The resulting basement floor is strong, resistant to degradation, and moisture proof. Epoxy flooring is one of the most durable choices for basement flooring (or garage floors). It also comes in a wide variety of colors. The result is not opaque like the concrete stain, so it has more of a finished floor appearance.
Most epoxy floors are installed directly over your existing concrete floor. It is self-leveling and hides any cracks or blemishes in the concrete. The product does not stain and requires very little maintenance.
Even though the epoxy flooring is water resistant, it cannot fix a true basement drainage problem. A word of caution – if you have standing water or even visible condensation, you need to address your drainage issues before installing ANY type of flooring.
Professional Installation or DIY
There are concrete stains and epoxy coverings available for those who like DIY. You save money by doing it yourself, provided you do it right. Imagine laying your own carpet. With enough time and the right tools, you probably can put down carpet yourself. There are numerous videos explaining how. However, most of us realize that without training, DIY carpet will never look like it was done professionally.
The same goes for both concrete stain and epoxy floors. Both products can be a bit tricky for the novice. With patience, it is possible to apply both to your basement floors yourself. However, keep in mind that professional epoxy floors are chemically bonded and applied 2 millimeters thick. They are not epoxy paint.
The epoxy covering designed for the DIY enthusiast might save you a small amount of money initially, but if you mess it up, it will take a professional to fix it. Then, you need to consider the “fix-it” cost. Google the horror stories of messed up floors. The price of having a professional remove or fix a “messed-up” application can increase the cost of your renovation significantly.
Sometimes DIY makes sense, but in the case of carpet, stained concrete, or epoxy flooring, it would be best to at least consult with the professionals before moving forward with your project.
Give us a call. We would be happy to give you a complimentary, no-hassle consultation on either stained concrete or epoxy floors. Let us show you how you can transform your basement floors or garage floors for less money than you might expect.
Just call this number: (260) 438-8018 at Decorative Concrete (and ask for Josh).