Noob question on vinyl plank flooring in basement

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WT21

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Joined just for this question :)

I'm wondering about installing Allure plank flooring in a below grade basement room.

BACKGROUND
I'm renovating our below-grade basement in the northeast. Being in the northeast, we get all sorts of weather. The basement is finished in terms of walls that are insulated with some kind of vapor barrier.

The house was built in 1974, and we just purchased it 2 months ago.

The total basement is 1000 square feet, but I gutted one specific 13X9 room so call it ~250 square feet), removing the drop ceiling, insulation, and the flooring, which was carpeting on 3/4 plywood, on sleepers, with a vapor barrier over the cement floor. It is likely this floor was put in around 2006, so maybe 8 years old. I should add that my family is tall. One of the reasons I pulled the drop ceiling and sleepers is to get some height to be comfortable, so I have some limits on what I can put down.

Under the vapor barrier, they had done some kind of gray paint on the cement, and it was still wet and the paint uncured in certain areas. Some of it pulled up with the vapor barrier. I cleaned the floor with ammonia, and removed all of this grey where it was still wet, and it has been dried out for 4 weeks with a dehumidifier. There were no signs of mold or mildew.

The basement had a leaky old door to the bulkhead and very poor, single pane and cracked windows, all of which have been replaced with vinyl double pane windows and a new steel door to the bulkhead. So, we are limiting air coming in from the outside. However, given the age of the house, I'm assuming there's likely no vapor barrier under the slab. the dehumidifier (one of the cheap, noisy ones) currently pulls about 5 gallons of water every 2-3 days (which we empty by hand)

The basement area will be conditioned using a Mitsubishi ductless heater/dehumidifier. That is going in next week.

WHAT TO USE???
I heard about and purchased Allure vinyl plank flooring -- the kind with the sticky strips. Then I came upon articles about issues in basements. So, I purchased the connecting type -- without the glue.

Price wise, the sticky strip kind is certainly more attractive, though the snap-together type looks better and is thicker.

My question -- in a conditioned space, and assuming there's no poly under the slab (given the age of the house), should I still plan a vapor barrier between the planks and the floor. I'm assuming yes. Could I also add the cushioning-type material they use under laminate flooring? So it would go 6mil, then inorganic cushion, then flooring?

With those kinds of layers between the flooring and the cement, it seems to me that the stick-strips would be OK?

A friend of mine says I should just use carpet that is poly, because it's breathable, and the dehumidifier will take care of the rest, but I'd really like a wood "look" in this room.

Any thoughts greatly appreciated.
 
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zannej

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Disclaimer: I am not a pro and I basically get info from reading stuff online and talking to people who dispense advice. I hope that my info is accurate, but if it is not, someone please let me know.

Do the sticky strips make the planks stick to each other or do they adhere to the surface below them?

One thing you want to do is make sure that whatever flooring you choose is NOT filled with mdf or some sort of wood in the middle. Otherwise it can be damaged by water.

From what I was told at the big box stores, you will want a moisture barrier on top of the concrete. And yes, you can put underlayment on top of that. So, if you want to get the underlayment that makes the floor more quiet and/or keeps the floor warmer, then it is fine to put that down under the finished floor.

Now, if the sticky strip kind actually glues down to the floor, then you will need something solid for it to adhere to-- like plywood. So you could do moisture barrier on top of concrete with plywood on top. I don't know if cementboard/wonderboard or greenboard could be used instead. If the sticky strips just make the pieces fit to each other, then you could put them over the underlayment.

Hopefully one of the experts here can weigh in to give additional info and correct me if I'm wrong on anything.
 

zannej

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Ok, then it would just be moisture barrier and then underlayment before you put that down. But you should probably check for level and make sure the floor is fairly smooth with no significant hills or valleys. I know that can happen with floors sometimes and if it is enough to make the flooring warp, then you would want to put down some sort of self-leveling compound.
 

rugaddict

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my advice would be to go with plan c---none of the above----floating products require a nearly perfectly flat floor ---that is rare in the northeast---they also require room to expand around every wall---baseboard on a stone wall can be a challenge---also there are limitations on the size of an area that can be installed before you need a break---normally a t moulding---on laminates thats usually around 16 feet---all of these concerns are minimized in a glue down install---thats my advice--go and sin no more my son
 

WT21

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Thanks, but this isn't a laminate. It's a vinyl plank. The floor indeed is actually level, and I have 3/4" baseboard going in, so the expansion gap is covered.

I actually ended up installing the Allure snap-together vinyl plank over a vapor barrier (instead of the glue strip Allure). Mainly because of concerns of the glue strips failing. I'll monitor it for a while. A few things I learned (in case any reads this thread):

1) Sometimes these kinds of planks need a tap to fit into place, but you can tap too hard. I broke the tongue on a couple of them being over zealous with my rubber mallet.

2) This vinyl floor is a lot slipperier than I thought it would be. It's for a workout room, and I thought my feet and hands would grab better on this floor. It's OK once you start sweating, but it's pretty slippery from a cold start (I'm assuming also if you socks or something across the floor). I wonder if that will diminish over time or not.

3) IMO, installed a hardwood floor is easier! (Having done them before myself). I find it easier to lean over with a flooring nail gun, then to spend all my time on my hands and knees staring at tiny little tongue and grooves, to get them to fit.

It's in, so I'll ride this one until it fails, but I don't think I'd install another.
 

Nick

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They sell a tapping block to pop them together so you don't damage the joinery .
I put a complete row together , then tilt it and snap down to the previous row .

Lot easier the trying to fit one board at a time .
 

zannej

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They sell a tapping block to pop them together so you don't damage the joinery .
I put a complete row together , then tilt it and snap down to the previous row .

Lot easier the trying to fit one board at a time .

Thanks for that tip, Nick. I'll keep that in mind for when/if I get vinyl plank.

Rusty, thanks for the tip on Allure having complaints. I seem to recall seeing low star ratings on that type on websites. I'll add that to my list of products to avoid.

WT21, thank you for the information about your installation and how things went. I wonder if you just picked a product that is smoother than some of the vinyl plank out there? I know there are some textured ones that feel like they have some grip. I hope its not as slick as laminate. I went to the house of someone who had laminate floors and they asked their guests to take their shoes off. I was slipping and sliding the whole way. My mother got to keep her shoes on because of her mobility issues. I'm sure she would have fallen down if she'd taken her shoes off.

On a side note, do you have any pictures of the finished job? I'd love to see what you went with and how it looks.
 

WT21

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My final thoughts on Allure -- it's too slippery. Plain and simple. If it even starts to fail, in anyway, I'll replace it. I might just replace it anyway once I get through some other projects.

I do not recommend Allure for a workout room, or any room where you need any kind of grip. This is more slippery than even tile or wood floor, in terms of bare hands and feet.
 

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