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Basement Carpeting: Installing Carpeting In a Finished Basement

Carpet makes a finished basement warm and inviting, but unless you use the right kind of carpet pad odor caused by moisture rising through the concrete can become a problem.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Basement Carpeting: Installing Carpeting In a Finished Basement

Carpet makes a finished basement warm and inviting, but unless you use the right kind of carpet pad odor caused by moisture rising through the concrete can become a problem.

Choosing a carpet pad

Any carpet that can be used in other areas of the house can be used in the basement. But as a precaution against moisture, use an open cell pad to allow the concrete to “breathe.” Nearly all pads are open cell pads, which provide better insulation and are less expensive than closed cell pads. In addition, some pads have a film barrier or odor guard (see photo) that helps eliminate odors that sometimes come from basement floors. These pads cost $1 to $2 more per square yard than traditional pads and are available at carpet stores.

Rubber pads (which are closed cell) are also available for carpet installed below grade, but most professionals don't recommend them because they can trap moisture between the pad and the concrete. This may cause moisture to move up the walls and get into the drywall.

The key is to think through and resolve any potential moisture problems in your basement before installing carpet. Once installed, carpets with open cell pads can withstand moderate wetting if you clean them with a wet/dry vacuum. But keep in mind that a flood of water will ruin both the carpet and pad, and you'll have to replace them.

Look for a stamp or words on the pad that say it provides odor protection.

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Required Materials for this Project

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    • Carpet pad with odor resistance

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August 06, 9:09 AM [GMT -5]

The concrete doesn't need to breath. The plastic subfloor should be sealed around the walls and sealed at the seams. If the plastic subfloor let's the concrete breath back into your room, it will let the moisture and humidity back in.
I prefer the grey underlayment (shown in other basement/carpet installation on Family Handyman. Because of it's high strength you can install laminate or engineered flooring directly on top. With carpet you should use a wood subfloor. The plastic grey subfloor is called DELTA-FL.

January 17, 9:07 AM [GMT -5]

Is it acceptable to put down a plastic vapor barrier on the floor before carpeting? Why would the concrete need to breathe?

January 16, 5:53 PM [GMT -5]

Another option is to use a plastic sub-floor. We did this on our recent basement remodel. Use the black plastic used as drainage on exterior basement walls (can't think of the name offhand) It has the raised dimples in it. Put that down, and then put TNG plywood subfloor on top, tapcon thru the plywood into floor (put a glob of silicone in hole prior to tapcon to keep moisture barrier). You then build your framing ON TOP of the sub-floor as normal. Then you can put any type of floor you like on top - we have carpet, tile and cork laminate. The plastic dimples let air circulate under the floor to remove any dampness and will help if you get small seepage....

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