Hardwood floors in basement

Q: My home is located in the Kansas City area. I am currently in the process of finishing the basement. My wife would like to have hardwood floors. My main concerns in using a wood floor is moisture, the cold feel, and losing headroom from a built-up floor.

I intended to use a subfloor material and install a floating engineered wood floor on the subfloor. I am considering two products to use as a subfloor for the wood floors. The two products are Delta FL (www.deltafl.com) and DRIcore (www.dricore.com). Both products are similar in that they use high density polyethylene (HDPE) as the vapor barrier. The major difference is the DRIcore product a 5/8” wafer board attached to the HDPE and per the Delta FL website, the wood floor can be installed directly on the HDPE. Do you have any experience with these products? Which product do you recommend or is there a better method?

A: Unless you have a serious water infiltration issue into your basement, a floating engineered should be fine. I am not an expert on Delta or Dricore. I am somewhat familiar with both. Basically Delta is Dricore without the chip board surface and comes in rolls, whereas Dricore comes in 2X2 squares, as you mention. It seems a bit of a coin toss. If you lay down the Delta, I think you will still need to install a plywood sheeting. It seems to me that the way to go will depend on how you see your basement floor changing over the years. If you think the floater is not a long term floor, and eventually you might go with something even better, you might want to go with the Delta and real plywood over top. something you can nail to. If not, the Dricore might be a better choice. What I don’t like about Dry core is that there are 4 joints every 2 sq. ft. The more joints in a sub floor, the more potential for problems.

Q: Thanks for your reply. I do not think that moisture will be a problem in my basement. Prior to staring construction on the basement, I did apply a deep-penetrating reactive concrete sealer on the walls and floor that claims to penetrate deep into concrete (up to 4″), chemically reacting with lime and alkalis, and hardening as a mineral. I did notice considerable difference after the concrete sealer application, there was not longer a moisture smell. So with that being said, would you recommend installing a floating engineered wood floor directly on the concrete slab? What (friction/sound) foam layer would you recommend? Is a thick foam like “Quiet Walk” better?

A: If you installed a Torlys or Uniclic floater, they actually have their own pad which they say you must use. It serves as a vapor barrier, complete with overlap and tape and gives cushion to the floor. If you feel confident in the concrete, go for it. The worst that can happen is you lose the floor.