Charleston boasts many beautiful homes that are elevated due to the flooding that can come with coastal life. For this reason, we frequently get asked how to make underutilized space beneath the house usable. Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Considerations need to be taken, such as what flood zone your home is in, insurance requirements, previous issues with moisture and/or flooding, etc.
When considering finishing the area under your home, a great place to start is flooring. Below are some good options for flooring in the lowest level of your home near the coast.
Laminate floors are growing in popularity due to both durability and a variety of designs. Laminate is a hybrid flooring made of layers of plywood, an image layer, and a protective wear layer. Make sure to select a laminate that is rated for below grade installation. An important thing to note is that this flooring needs to be placed on a completely flat surface. Often, concrete flooring under a home is not flat. Sealing your concrete and using an underlayment can be a solution to leveling your floor.
Luxury Vinyl Plank and Luxury Vinyl Tile
A good thing about using LVP or LVT is that you can lift individual pieces out if you have a problem with water. They are very durable, and can lay on a surface that isn’t completely flat (unlike laminate floor) because they have some flexibility. They also have a backing that prevents any sliding. Today’s luxury vinyl products often have texture and can look just like real wood!
Rubber flooring is informal and a good use for playrooms, exercise rooms, and utility rooms. It is easy to remove or rework, and is comfortable to stand and walk on. Oftentimes it joins together in pieces making it easy to replace areas of flooring as needed.
Tile flooring is hard-wearing and tough. Be aware that concrete under the tile may shift and move over time, but a skilled tile installer will know how to install the tile so it won’t crack over time. Self-leveling agents can be used to help ensure the floor is as level and smooth as possible prior to tile installation.
Carpet will make your space feel warmer and softer to walk on. One thing to note is that it should never be installed directly on concrete. Especially in the Charleston climate (hello humidity!), carpet can hold moisture and begin to smell musty or grow mold. Concrete will need to be properly sealed, and then carpet can be laid over an underlayment. Unfortunately, if your lower level floods, your carpet will need to be replaced.
If you have been thinking about finishing the area under your elevated home, make sure you have a contractor you can trust who is familiar with the climate, flood zones, pros and cons of flooring options, and insurance regulations. Give us a call today so we can work together to add some living space to your home!