Engineered Hardwood Floor: Basement Installation

2 Materials
4 Days

If you are considering installing real hardwood in a basement, an engineered hardwood floor should be your only consideration – in conjunction with a dimpled membrane! The membrane will help protect the floor from vapour migration coming up from the concrete slab. It will also protect from minor leaks – as we found out when one of our pipes burst a year after this install!

The video walks you through a tour of our basement before and after engineered hardwood transformed the space.

Set up and Gather Tools

Our install was during the winter so we cut all our planks indoors. Hubs set up our chopsaw, workbench and vacuum in the furthest room from where we started. Cardboard can help keep dust off the walls.

Add the Underlayment

After clearing out the rest of the basement, the DMX 1- Step goes down. Any moisture build-up against a porous surface can easily start mold growing so don’t skip this step in a basement installation!

A dimpled membrane will protect the engineered hardwood from dampness coming up through the slab. Engineered hardwood is NOT impervious to mold – even with a membrane – so a dehumidifier is also something we consider essential in the basement to protect our investment!

There’s no need to overlap the edges. The seams are just butt together and sealed with tuck tape; the same stuff used to seal vapour barrier underneath our drywall. The underlayment went everywhere. Hubs even detached the stairs to lift them up to get the membrane underneath everything but the post; a more watertight solution than cutting around them (pic on our blog).

After letting the flooring acclimate a few days, we did a dry layout of some floor boards.

Start with Three Rows

To start, we glued the seams of the first three rows and let it dry before proceeding with the rest. You'll find a floor plan diagram and info on the 'glue method' on our blog (link underneath this post where you see our logo).

In order to stagger the end seams, just start the top of a new row with a cutoff to make the best use of materials and keep waste to a minimum. 

We were so eager to start that I didn’t get pictures until we were halfway through the first room. As the glue sets up, apply blue tape across the seams to keep lateral pressure between the boards. We stacked piles of flooring on top to weigh the floor down too.

Notice the spacer blocks against all the walls above? We cut pieces of MDF to use as spacers. You MUST leave a space to allow for expansion and contraction. The space gets covered up by the baseboard so make sure your end cuts are accurate so you don’t see the gaps.

Using a Flooring Installation Kit

We borrowed our installation kit from my brother-in-law. The tapping block (in conjunction with a rubber mallet) allows you to distribute equal force across the tongue without any damage to the wood.

For best results, slide the block along the row using tapping strokes to engage the tongue and groove.

The pull bar allows you pull planks together in tight areas – such as installing the last plank up against the wall. The curved end wraps around the edge closest to the wall and then the mallet is struck against the opposite end of the pull bar, forcing the joint together. You can see that in action near the end of the video (posted at the beginning of this post).

Transition to New Rooms with a Spline

The picture below shows the spline transition into the next room.

Apply glue on the spline and insert it into the groove. After letting it dry, then you can proceed gluing the rest of the floor boards in the opposition direction to the wall in exactly the same way as before! It’s genius!

The install goes very fast until you get to obstructions like the drain pipe in the laundry room and around the stairs. Hubs used a square to measure and mark the board so we could cut a circle out for the pipe.

There’s always time for a little peekaboo! This picture also reminds me just how hard Hubs worked on our basement. He dropped so much weight throughout the construction, he practically disappears behind the board!!! I need to fatten him up again before he completely disappears  .

A perfect fit!

It was so exciting to finally load in the furniture and make the rooms functional. This is the view from my sewing room looking into the craft studio.

There's a lot more detail on each basement space that we didn't have room to show here, so head to our blog if you're curious too see more progress shots and reveal pics of the laundry room and mancave (see the link right under this post).

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Suggested materials:

  • Engineered hardwood  (Fusion)
  • DMX 1-Step  (Big box store)

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Colin
    on Sep 30, 2019

    Would you use the same underlayment if putting down flooring on an upper level floor?

    • Birdz of a Feather
      Birdz of a Feather
      on Sep 30, 2019

      No, it's a vapour barrier so not really necessary on an upper level. For an upper level, all you need is a wax paper underlayment to helps you slide the wood into place :)

  • Rod
    on Oct 7, 2019

    That underlayment membrane looks very expensive ? Any suggestions

    • Birdz of a Feather
      Birdz of a Feather
      on Oct 7, 2019

      Shop around for the best price. Hardwood floor is even more expensive and you don't want to lose it to water damage. You get what you pay and it's one of those things that's well worth it if you want to protect your investment :)

  • Barb
    on Oct 1, 2020

    could you put this underlayment over a tile floor tile is on cement or do i have to tear up floor tile

    • Birdz of a Feather
      Birdz of a Feather
      on Oct 2, 2020

      I would think if the floor is sound (i.e. no loose tiles), my instinct says yes. But I'm not positive about that. It's always best to contact the manufacturer to find out or talk to a knowledgeable retailer that sells the product :).

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