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The Basics of Below Grade Flooring

Ariana Sanchez
July 2, 2015

If you have been around enough home construction projects, you may be familiar with the term “below grade flooring”. If not, this article is here to help. The term “Grade” refers to ground level so “grade flooring” refers to all floors that are above ground level. Therefore, “below grade flooring” refers to anything that is at risk of flooding since it is below ground – more often than not “below grade flooring” is talking about basements. 

The purpose of “below grade flooring” is to have it resistant to flooding and other elements such as humidity and moisture. There are different types of below-grade flooring that can be used, some better than others. The best floor for your basement is concrete. This is because it is completely resistant to moisture and if your basement happens to flood, it will not soak up the water. This will help prevent the growth of mold or rot. Ceramic tile is also a good option for your floor. It is only slightly less durable than cement and the upside is that it is much more attractive and pleasing to the eye. Ceramic tiles also offer a huge variety of colors and patterns, which means you will be able to personalize your basement according to how you want it. Similar to this is the use of vinyl/resilient tile. While it works well against water, the adhesive that is used will eventually wear out, especially after prolonged contact with water. If your basement often floods, this may not be the best choice for your home. 

There are also less practical options for below grade flooring. While it is certainly possible to use them, you will have to make sure that your basement is secure from water damage first. One of these options is laminate. Laminate is a type of synthetic below grade flooring that is made by fusing together multi-layers of wood through a lamination process. The end effect is that the floor will look like it was made from hardwood. While aesthetically pleasing, the base is wood, which is very susceptible to water damage. With enough damage, it can lead to dry rot or other forms of mold. If you are working on making your basement waterproof, consider which is the best basement flooring to use.