Thursday, May 9, 2013

Susie & Ike's Basement Remodel- Guest Blogger (Flooring)

Our friend Susie is back with another fabulous update on her basement remodel! 

Check out her previous posts here:

Since we’ve last updated the blog, not only have we painted the walls, we’ve also installed the ceiling grid for our dropped ceiling. I realize this wasn’t on my initial outline, but since it was truly a DIY project, I figured I better at least summarize the experience for those interested:

For the entire basement and separate bedroom, the process for just grid installation took nearly 18 hours broken into two days. While it could have been quicker, our basement naturally has three beams in the ceiling that separated our grid into sections. I’ll get into this a bit later to discuss why it added some headaches, but first an overview of the process. In order to get a level line around the entire circumference of the basement we rented a rotary laser that broadcasted a laser. Side note: rent these if you can as they can get quite costly and you probably won’t have a need for it in the future. From there we used Mason’s Line or Construction Line to mark the exterior grid. After those were installed, a little math was necessary to figure out how many rows and columns were needed in each section. It made the most sense to have full tiles in the middle rows and columns of the section and have partials (if needed) on the exterior. I realize this makes absolutely no sense…but I’m sure it will be helpful once you are in the midst of it! So like I said, having three sections made this process tougher as we had to reset up the laser, install separate exteriors, and do the math for each section…plus the bedroom! If you’d like more information about this process, feel free to drop me a line.

Side note: this is a long post-but hang in there for some great photos at the end!

Now onto the flooring! If you recall, the back portion of our basement is dedicated to a family TV area and kid’s play space, while the front portion is an exercise area and most likely a bar. Yes, I think I’m caving on the bar. While I’d like to offer a definitive reason for this decision, it’s probably because my husband was so passionate for this addition.

So anyways, with the back portion we were more concerned with comfort and from the get-go knew we wanted carpet. As you know, the world of carpet is vast and ranges in price from $0.30 to well over $12.00 per square foot. Obviously, given that it is a basement, we wanted to be on the lower end of the spectrum, but were also very concerned with the durability and softness of the carpet…two features that quickly add cost to the baseline. We started by visiting a couple hardware stores to get an idea of what we liked and the cost associated. From there we did our due diligence at a flooring store and online. This proved a bit more difficult than we originally thought as carpet retailers and wholesalers do not have the same name for a line of carpet across the board. So while it may be called “A” at Home Depot or Lowe’s, online wholesalers call it “D.” The best way to identify carpet was to outline the manufacturer, give any style numbers, and provide color options. We found that color options remained the same across the board, so wholesalers were able to identify a line via this information. In the end, we purchased our carpet from Lowe’s for a number of reasons: 1) it was cheaper than a flooring store 2) we didn’t feel comfortable purchasing online as there was no guarantee it was the right carpet AND we’d still have to find someone to do the install and 3) it was a one-stop-shop offering deals on carpet pads and installation (free actually!).

Now onto the front portion of the basement. Here we wanted something less expensive and easier to clean as it would be by the bar with more chances of “liquid damage.” At the flooring store we discovered “Luxury Vinyl Tiles.” These upscale versions of vinyl tiles can either be locked together or glued in place and give the look of real tile or wood without the cost. When laid next to a cheaper vinyl tile from a hardware store, you can really see the difference. 

Meanwhile, below we have two options in real ceramic tile - a modern pattern and a "wood". Yes the one on the right is actually tile not wood! The picture is taken at the bottom of our real wood stairs to see which would look better. 

To give you a better idea of costs involved with the three options we looked into, here is some pricing (again I used a variety of hardware store, flooring store, and online wholesalers to gather the best prices…unlike carpet, names of certain lines were pretty universal throughout).

We needed to purchase approximately 600 square feet of flooring:

1.  “Allure” brand vinyl planks at Home Depot (or similar)                      $1.59 PSF or $954 total
                  No adhesive or labor needed for this option

2.  Ceramic tile at Lowe’s (wood or modern pattern)                                $2.25 PSF or $2,260 total
                  This option included $910 labor and mud

3.  Luxury Vinyl Tile by Mannington, “Adura” line (GLUE)                  $3.50 PSF or $2,247 total
                  This is for the adhesive type including glue

4.  Luxury Vinyl Tile by Mannington, “Adura” line (LOCK)                  $3.75 PSF or $2,250 total
                  This type merely locks together

As you can see there is quite a price difference per square foot, but when you add labor or materials they all end up within $15.00 of each other excluding the vinyl planks. Now as you may recall, my husband isn’t the most savvy man and goes for looks over budget…with that said, the vinyl planks were out (option 1 above). From here we decided that we truly liked the wood look (not the modern pattern) as it would best contrast with the white bar we were having constructed (more on that next time!) Out of the ceramic "wood" (option 2) vs Luxury Vinyl Tile "wood" (options 3 & 4), we felt the ceramic one at Lowe’s had a better look. Option 2 was the winner!

I can’t write this post without telling you a few things, though…the luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) are said to have better durability and warmth. For instance, a ceramic tile can be cracked if something hard is dropped on it, while the LVT would not. Additionally, ceramic is naturally colder in temperature…and for a basement on a concrete slab, this could mean quite the temperature difference for LVT. Finally and probably most important, installation of ceramic tiles is quite expensive. In my chart above we paid $810 ($1.35 PSF) for installation and approximately $100 in materials ($910 total). This doesn’t sound too bad, right?! Fortunately we were able to find a laborer just starting his own business that wanted the job and would do it for a fraction of what other contractors would charge.  On average, the going rate was $4.00 PSF for just install- which would have cost us $2,400 for the labor alone! Had we not found this reasonable contractor option, there is no doubt in my mind we would have gone with LVT and saved ourselves the ridiculous labor costs.

Thanks for hanging in on this “overly” long blog. Hopefully these photos make your wait worth the while…and don’t mind our half-decorated, half-organized mess!


  1. Project looks wonderful. Love, love, love the floor. Can't wait to see the completed project.

  2. This is a great resource. Good article.Important and numerous information. Thank you.

  3. It's hard to believe that the tiles are ceramic and not actually wood, but I guess that was the point. That aside, the basement remodel seems to have gone very well. It was a great idea to put carpets on the TV and play area as I think it gives a more homey feel to the space. Thanks for sharing! I look forward to seeing the final reveal.

  4. Nice design. These beautiful tiles are looking awesome and gives spectacular look to your basement.

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