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Cabin Fever Renovations: Basement Flooring

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

Y'all, I'm SO HAPPY. If you read my last post about the basement, you'll know that my first priority in this cabin fever renovation was getting rid of those nasty tile floors. I've certainly seen worse as far as basement flooring goes, but I've also spent the last three years trying to convince myself they're not *that* bad, and never, ever setting foot downstairs without shoes on. And for real, why?

The plan was to cover them up with luxury vinyl plank flooring, which is handy because it's the perfect combination of beautiful, waterproof, and resilient. Thankfully, after completing the full installation, I'm so happy to report that it was just as easy as advertised! The whole project start to finish took one weekend, and cost a little under $1200. On the ranking of DIY renovation projects I've finished, this one was highly affordable and highly doable.

Choosing the flooring

I just could not be happier with this floor, which is this one from Floor and Decor. Now, I think the color of the floor isn't super consistent across all these images, including the product images on the F&D website--the lighting plays a major role in how it turns out. In person, I think the floor is closer to my images than the F&D pictures, but I'd describe it as a cool-tone light brown. It's not gray at all.

The rest of the house is done in oak hardwood, and I wanted it to tie in without matching too precisely. This one turned out to be the perfect color, and it's so warm underfoot. I'm in love. Read on for photos and installation tips.

Self-leveling cement underlay

That nasty tile's last contribution to my life was to make the flooring installation harder than it would have been otherwise. LVP is pretty flexible, but it does require a relatively smooth and level subfloor, and unfortunately our tile's grout lines were just a little too large. As a result, we had to use a self-leveling cement underlayment over top of the tile first. It seemed daunting at first, but it really turned out to be not that bad. There are lots of great blogs out there with detailed instructions, but here are my quick tips and lessons learned:

  1. Like with most things, preparation is key. A large portion of the installation was just spent duct taping the edges of the floor to keep the cement from flowing under the drywall. This made the pour so much easier as we went along.

  2. Get some muscley help. I can lift 50 pounds easily enough, but when those 50 pounds are basically sand inside a plastic bag, it gets a lot more difficult.

  3. This was a three-person job. Each bucket of cement needs to be mixed for two minutes (or longer) in order to get it smooth, so we had two buckets going in rotation. We had one person in charge of lifting the bucket and pouring the cement, one in charge of spreading it evenly on the floor, and one outside mixing the next bucket.

  4. Mix the cement OUTSIDE, for the love. The dust cloud is no joke.

These points notwithstanding, once we got started with the pouring, we finished the whole floor in about an hour. This entire portion of the project only took one Friday evening, start to finish. We were able to start installing the LVP the following afternoon.

Luxury Vinyl Plank

Like I said, the installation was really just as easy as advertised! Each plank clicks together, one after another.Again, there are lots of good tutorials on this available, so here are just my takeaways:

  1. Most videos and tutorials only addressed rectangular rooms. In addition to the score-and-snap method, I made bulk cuts with a circular saw, and for more complicated cuts the best bet wound up being a hammer and chisel. I'm sure a jigsaw may have worked just as well, but I wanted to minimize the mess of installation.

  2. Invest in knee pads!

  3. I recommend keeping a worktable handy for scoring and snapping. Otherwise you're spending a lot of time seated to install, kneeling to score and snap, standing to get the next plank, etc. It's a leg day for sure.

I had about 250 square feet of installation to work on, and it took the majority of both Saturday and Sunday. Everything goes faster with two people.

I'm waiting on pricing from the electricians to make final calls on the recessed lighting we need, but in the meantime we'll be moving on to baseboards and trim!



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