Can you install hardwood in a basement?

Home Builder with The Flooring Girl

Yes, hardwood flooring can be installed in a long as there is not a water nor moisture issue.

 hardwood floors in basements for Westchester NYIn Westchester County, many basements are below the ground and/or constructed directly on a concrete slab. As a result, many basements (especially in older homes) have water issues/leaks or they tend to have excessive moisture.  If you do have either of the issues, I would recommend that you stay away from hardwood as well as laminate flooring. Many customers mistakenly believe that laminate is isn't! And, often laminate will do even worse than hardwood will in a humid basement.  Instead, if you have moisture issues, you are better off using a waterproof or water resilient surface such as tile or vinyl.  

If your basement is below grade (i.e. beneath the ground) and you DON"T have a water issue, then you need to use an engineered hardwood (rather than solid hardwood). Some engineered hardwoods can be nailed or glued and others click into place.

Westchester NY engineered hardwood for basements


The choice among hardwood constructions depends on what type of sub-floor you have, the level of the basement and how even the sub-floor is.  The species does not matter.

  • a) If you have a PLYWOOD sub-floor AND you are on ground level, you are in luck. This means that you have a lot of flexibility in your wood choices. If you are on grade, you can select solid hardwood which can be nailed into the plywood as well as engineered hardwood which can also be nailed into the plywood. This is the best installation method and it tends to cost a bit less. From there, it really just depends on which wood you prefer (and your budget, of course).


  • b) If you have a PLYWOOD sub-floor AND your basement is below the ground, then you would need to install an engineered hardwood (solid hardwoods are not approved for below grade levels as there are large swings in temperature/humidity which can cause the floor to buckle and split. Engineered hardwood is designed in layers so that it can tolerate this better. You can learn more about engineered hardwood here: Is Engineered hardwood real? In this scenario with a plywood subfloor, you would generally be best off to have a standard engineered hardwood floor that can be nailed into the plywood.


  • engineered hardwood for basements in Westchesterc) If you have a CONCRETE subfloor AND you are below the ground, you will need to use an engineered hardwood (see above in paragraph b). If your floor is smooth, then you could install a regular engineered hardwood by gluing it to the sub-floor. It is critical that your floor is smooth and fairly level...otherwise the adhesive won't adhere well to the surface and could pop up. If the floor isn't smooth/level, it is important to level the floor (but this can get expensive). Alternatively, if your floor is fairly level but not smooth, then you could select a clickable hardwood that can be floated on top. You can read more about floating floors here: What is a floating floor? (Please note that if your floor is uneven, your floor can have a lot of movement - just like laminate does..and if it's very unlevel, you should either level it or select a different type of floor surface that can tolerate the unevenness.


  • d) If you have a CONCRETE sub-floor AND you are on the ground level, you have some choices pending your budget and how the home is constructed. The less expensive way is to install an engineered hardwood on top of the concrete (you can either glue it or float it (see above - paragraph C ).
    • oak hardwood floors basement westchesterYou also have the option of installing a plywood sub-floor (and then installing solid hardwood on top). Solid hardwood requires a plywood sub-floor. If there is enough room (i.e. height), then you can install a 3/4" plywood sub-floor. Altogether, you will be adding 1.5 inches to the height with the combo of the plywood (3/4") and the solid hardwood (3/4"), so it is important to check door heights and transitions, especially if you have any metal doors (which are very challenging to cut or replace). You should also look around the room to make sure there won't be other height issues (e.g. if you have cabinets or appliances there or transitions to other rooms). So, if this will physically work, then it comes down to a budget question, as you need to pay extra for installing the plywood (and installing plywood over concrete is more expensive vs. adding it to wood flooring joists). With concrete, you need to use special hilties and nail guns to secure the plywood into the sub-floor. The costs can definitely add up.
    • So, if you add in the plywood to the floor, then you can use either type of hardwood - solid or engineered.
    • If you do not add a plywood sub-floor, you will need to use an engineered hardwood. See paragraph C for a discussion on types of engineered constructions.

I hope that this makes sense. Basements are often complicated and it's best to consult a flooring professional on best structure/installation method and whether floor prep is needed (since many basements are uneven) or even whether hardwood is the best choice for your basement.  

When you're looking for flooring for your basement in Westchester County, give The Flooring Girl a call at 914-937-2950.

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Originally posted at Can Hardwood flooring be installed in a basement?

Can you install hardwood in a basement? Westchester NY


Re-Blogged 7 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Ritu Desai 09/20/2012 11:28 PM
  2. Evelyn Kennedy 09/21/2012 03:47 AM
  3. Lisa Hicks 09/21/2012 08:02 AM
  4. Cheryl Ritchie 09/21/2012 11:44 AM
  5. Patty Mortara REALTOR CRS | Hunterdon County (NJ) 09/21/2012 12:24 PM
  6. Mark Woodward 09/25/2012 07:56 AM
  7. Martha Brown 09/25/2012 12:18 PM
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Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Outstanding and informative post and worthily of the gold star.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Sep 21, 2012 12:53 PM #36
David Grbich
Realty One Group - - San Juan Capistrano, CA
Orange County Real Estate - 949-500-0484

Great advice - most homes in our area are built on slabs so we mostly see engineered as well. Regards Dave

Sep 21, 2012 01:57 PM #37
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

We are ripping up flooring in the lower level of a home I purchased. These were once beautiful oak wood, that was not installed correctly and can't be saved.

Great post, too bad this homeowner did see this post before spending the money for their hardwood floors.

Sep 21, 2012 08:28 PM #38
Richard and Beth Witt
Long Island Cash Home Buyer - Massapequa, NY
Long Island Cash Home Buyer 516-330-6940

Great post Debbie... I would have never thought one could or should be hard wood floors in a basement... Congrts on the feature...

Sep 22, 2012 12:12 AM #39
Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

Debbie - Congrats once again on the feature!    You have served up the best of the best posts on hardwood flooring in a basement.   Great job!

Sep 22, 2012 12:19 AM #40
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Debbie,

Great tips! I often see badly installed laminate or hardwood in basements. As with painting, it is not always in the installation itself, but the preparation that your project will succeed.


Sep 22, 2012 12:56 AM #41
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

Great post giving all the examples of what to use. Since I've never need a completely level basement (drainage holes, etc) in my area, I guess you only have a few choices. 

Sep 22, 2012 01:09 AM #42
Michael Blue
Home Smart Realty West - Encinitas, CA
REALTOR - 760-889-8877, Encinitas/Carlsbad
Good post. Putting wood in the basement may seem like a slamdunk for many but as you pointed out many considerations have to be considered. Very thoughtfully organized presentation.
Sep 22, 2012 03:31 AM #43
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Debbie, I have said this many times before.  I wish you worked in Dallas, Texas!

Sep 22, 2012 03:37 AM #44
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams fox cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Thanks Debbie, I would not have thought to place wood in the basement, its nice to hear that it is an option.

Sep 22, 2012 04:13 AM #45
John DL Arendsen
Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor

We've done lot's of wood floor projects in basements. You're right we always waterproof before proceeding.

Sep 22, 2012 04:59 AM #46
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

As always - your posts are useful and informative. Thanks for all you share.

Sep 22, 2012 06:12 AM #47

Great info although too much for me to absorb.  I'm going to save your post and use it when needed.  Nice to have an expert in my back pocket. 

Sep 22, 2012 07:06 AM #48
Tom Esposito
Alpharetta Home Solutions - Alpharetta, GA

Great info although too much for me to absorb.  I'm going to save your post and use it when needed.  Nice to have an expert in my back pocket. 

Sep 22, 2012 07:34 AM #49
Brad Baylor
ERA Coup Agency - Milton, PA

Debbie - If I ever build my own home, I can guarantee you one thing there won't be, and that's a basement.  They're just a problem waiting to happen.

Sep 24, 2012 12:42 AM #50
Nan Jester
Exit Real Estate Gallery Jacksonville Beach, FL - Jacksonville Beach, FL
Realtor, Exit Real Estate Gallery

That is not a problem here in Jacksonville because we can't have basements, being so close to sea level, and so close to it, too

Sep 24, 2012 06:53 AM #51
Martha Brown
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Annapolis MD 21403 - Annapolis, MD
Your Homes Around Annapolis Agent

Love this Debbie. Sorry I misse it when originally posted as it is great info. Going to reblog and share for sure. 

Sep 25, 2012 12:16 PM #52

I really like this post as it provides some useful information on hardwood and plywood basement flooring. Its really important to make your basement floor healthy but hard to maintain because some of the basement floor met with the moisture ploblems but this post give an idea by providing some new important tips of hardwood and plywood flooring. I really like this post.

Oct 16, 2012 07:59 PM #53
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Charles - Thank you.  I'm glad to hear that.

Oct 16, 2012 09:19 PM #54
Brenda Whitman, Live in Laramie Real Estate
Live in Laramie Real Estate, Laramie, Wyoming - Laramie, WY
Broker/Co-Owner, Laramie, Wyoming

We have debated for the last 10 years how to put something other than carpet on our garden level basement floor.  Your posts are amazingly educational and helpful in that regard.  Thanks!

Nov 09, 2012 11:51 AM #55
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