Question

Our basement requires laminate flooring due to moisture. What should we look for when choosing laminate?

Asked by Katrin
Seattle, WA

I'm concerned about off-gassing. If I left it in the garage for the winter would most of the off-gassing be complete? Are their plants that you can use to clean the air and counter act this? I wish I could use real wood but unfortunately we have had moisture issues in the past with our last floor so this time I want to do something that will last. THanks !

Answer

Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Answered by Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Bainbridge Island, WA

A Kitchen That Works LLC

November 5, 2012

Dear Katrin,

The Green Home Guide is a site that advocates for sustainable building practices and the use of environmentally safe building materials. Therefore, endorsing the use of laminate flooring would not be in keeping with our mission.

With regards to leaving the material in the garage to “off gas”, I would not recommend this strategy as those chemicals will off gas into spaces that you and your family use every day.

  • Unless you have a carport so that the gasses can actually escape.
  • However, exposing the materials to temperature swings and moisture would not be wise either given the climate zone you are in.

Previous experiences with real wood

As for your past experience with wood flooring in your basement, there may have been some installation steps ‘skipped’ with your previous floor that led to its failure such as:

  • the slab may not have been sealed, 
  • a moisture barrier may not have been installed,
  • down spouts from the roof were clogged and caused water to pool at the foundation and into the basement.

The list of culprits can be extensive. I would encourage you to consider other flooring options such as those mentioned in the green basement flooring archive.

Air cleaning plants

Regarding plants, there are indeed several plant species that have been clinically proven to help “clean” indoor air.

I am not personally familiar with which volatile organic compounds each species absorbs best but you can read the Q&A "Can I use house plants to improve my home's indoor air quality?" and Wikipedia's air filtering plants list to help you find the right plants for you and your home.

 

Good luck!

Note: consider door threshold heights when selecting any flooring material (and underlayment) to ensure that all doors can be opened properly and maintain a good air seal.

 

For more information:

Read "Is laminate a good product to replace a basement floor with?" a Q&A answered by Maggie Michel.

Also, read Shannon Demma's Q&A "Should we install cork flooring in our moisture-prone basement?"

Tagged In: basement flooring

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