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Home Renovation Advice - Basement and Front Entrance Area - GTA / Scarborough Area

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Jul 9, 2010
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Home Renovation Advice - Basement and Front Entrance Area - GTA / Scarborough Area

Hi All,

I'm renovating my basement and front entrance area this summer, and looking for some advice. For reference, I live in a townhouse in the Scarborough / North York area.

Both the basement and front entrance area are carpeted right now, but I'd like to install tiles and possibly MDF wood as well.

Before meeting with renovators, I wanted to canvass the community and clarify some questions I'd had about the process.

1. Firstly, for those who have renovated their basement, I am curious which material you went with? I am leaning between tile (porcelain) and MDF. Currently we have carpet, but ever since we had a sewer-back up I am against re-installing carpet.

2. Are there any nightmare / learning lessons that you've had that you can share about the process? For example contractors cutting corners in installation etc. I am looking for a reputable and licensed contractor so I will hopefully avoid these issues, but it helps to come in to the conversation prepared.

3. I plan on asking for two quotes, one with both labour and materials, and a separate quote just for materials. When it comes to sourcing tile/engineered wood, does anyone have any advice on where to go? I know Costco sells plank, and tiles, and I've looked at local tile shops near me but I'm curious if there is a better place out there I'm not aware of.

4. Lastly, did you hire a contractor to do the work or was it a DIY job? For those that used contractors, do you have contractors that you can recommend that work in the Scarborough/North York area? I am currently looking at a few companies from Homestars, but I'm curious to hear anyone's experience with contractors they've used.

Thanks in advance for the help everyone! Here's to a smooth renovation!
20 replies
Deal Addict
Apr 26, 2003
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What are you thinking MDF for? The walls?

For basement flooring, you should think about some underlayment like DMX One-Step and SPC luxury vinyl plank flooring: https://www.flooringinc.com/buyers-guid ... s-wpc.html Both are completely waterproof and if you do have a water event, you can pull it all up, clean it up and lay it back down again without damage.
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Nov 10, 2019
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If you're able and capable, flooring is a DIY project requiring some of the most basic tools needed.
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Nov 24, 2014
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exrcoupe wrote: What are you thinking MDF for? The walls?
I have the same question. do you mean new MDF baseboard? (did you perhaps mean LVP -Luxury Vinyl Plank?)
Regardless, I'd avoid using MDF anywhere it might be exposed to water / excessive moisture.
Also, Tiles in the basement are pretty cold, even with insulated subflooring.
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I wouldn't do tile. Waterproof LVP is the way to go, imo.
"I'm a bit upset. I've been grab by the back without any alert and lubrification"
Lucky
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Toukolou wrote: I wouldn't do tile. Waterproof LVP is the way to go, imo.
Is there a particular reason why you wouldn't go with tile? I am thinking about the material for the basement. Since I know the front entrance is going to be tile, I was considering just having the entire first floor, basement included to be tile (i.e. porcelain). Is cost a factor in your decision? I know tile can be expensive but last I checked, LVP was not as cheap as I thought it would be.
dieseldub wrote: I have the same question. do you mean new MDF baseboard? (did you perhaps mean LVP -Luxury Vinyl Plank?)
Regardless, I'd avoid using MDF anywhere it might be exposed to water / excessive moisture.
Also, Tiles in the basement are pretty cold, even with insulated subflooring.
Sorry for the confusion, I meant engineered hardwood. Also, wouldn't insulation also be a factor for LVP or engineered wood floors too?

Given that we have carpet, moving to tile will feel much colder by comparison, so I do want to take temperature into consideration.
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Dostk wrote: Is there a particular reason why you wouldn't go with tile? I am thinking about the material for the basement. Since I know the front entrance is going to be tile, I was considering just having the entire first floor, basement included to be tile (i.e. porcelain). Is cost a factor in your decision? I know tile can be expensive but last I checked, LVP was not as cheap as I thought it would be.

Sorry for the confusion, I meant engineered hardwood. Also, wouldn't insulation also be a factor for LVP or engineered wood floors too?

Given that we have carpet, moving to tile will feel much colder by comparison, so I do want to take temperature into consideration.
Tile is hard and cold. Imo, it's only really suited to tropical places, and even then, it's uncomfortable on the feet after extended periods of time. The basement is typically colder, tile will make that worse.

Also, having a sea of tile, to me, is the antithesis of hygge. Cold, sterile, and uninviting. It belongs in offices and commercial kitchens.

Personally, I wouldn't ever consider buying a home with the entire main floor tiled.
"I'm a bit upset. I've been grab by the back without any alert and lubrification"
Lucky
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Toukolou wrote: Tile is hard and cold. Imo, it's only really suited to tropical places, and even then, it's uncomfortable on the feet after extended periods of time. The basement is typically colder, tile will make that worse.

Also, having a sea of tile, to me, is the antithesis of hygge. Cold, sterile, and uninviting. It belongs in offices and commercial kitchens.

Personally, I wouldn't ever consider buying a home with the entire main floor tiled.
I see your point, thank you for those insights. I mainly considered tile just for the foyer / front entrance area. That is primarily because it would be easier to clean, since we get a lot of snow during the winter. The basement I'm not quite sure what to go with, but I do agree tile will make it too cold.

So you've told me what you don't want, but I'm curious what material you would choose to use instead for either for foyer or basement area? Engineered hardwood, LVP?
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Mar 10, 2004
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I have wood plank looking tile in basement. No need to worry about mould or moisture. Probably more hygienic too.
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Dostk wrote: I see your point, thank you for those insights. I mainly considered tile just for the foyer / front entrance area. That is primarily because it would be easier to clean, since we get a lot of snow during the winter. The basement I'm not quite sure what to go with, but I do agree tile will make it too cold.

So you've told me what you don't want, but I'm curious what material you would choose to use instead for either for foyer or basement area? Engineered hardwood, LVP?
Foyer tile is fine, but I would keep it just to the foyer. Basent I'd go with waterproof lvp.
"I'm a bit upset. I've been grab by the back without any alert and lubrification"
Lucky
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@Toukolou @exrcoupe

Thanks for the responses so far! I had another question regarding the type of material to use for the basement.

Let's say for example there was an issue with the plumbing, and I needed to get access to the subfloor. Would one material be better than the other in the event I need it to be removed? For example, would it be less costlier and/or easier to remove sections of LVP, as opposed to engineered hardwood or tile in this circumstance?

I recently had a plumbing issue so I needed to take the carpet out which was a huge hassle. If I can choose a material where I can have easy access to the subfloor to fix piping or other future issues, that would factor into my decision.
Deal Addict
Apr 26, 2003
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LVP is the only flooring material that you can really remove and put back together. Engineered hardwood would normally need to be secured to the subfloor by nails or adhesive but you could have it floating. Tile would be laid down using mortar, so there's really only one option. With a water event even with tongue and groove engineered hardwood or laminate, the wood flooring wouldn't survive being flooded, so you'd have to replace it.
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Dostk wrote: @Toukolou @exrcoupe

would it be less costlier and/or easier to remove sections of LVP, as opposed to engineered hardwood or tile in this circumstance?
LVP and Engineered hardwood would be similar, tile would be a bitch. LVP is probably your best bet as it can be cut clean, is the least costly to replace, and you can just fill in the gap seamlessly with less effort when you're patching everything up again.
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Jul 5, 2004
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Tile in the foyer and LVP in the basement with a proper underlay, and if you have the height, then put down plywood as well.
Tile in the basement would be awful. You don't want wood in the foyer though, it will get ruined from wet shoes.
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tempperm wrote: I have wood plank looking tile in basement. No need to worry about mould or moisture. Probably more hygienic too.
What brand or style of plank did you go with? Floating vs click? Also did you use underlayment for your basement or just put it directly on the floor?
exrcoupe wrote: LVP is the only flooring material that you can really remove and put back together. Engineered hardwood would normally need to be secured to the subfloor by nails or adhesive but you could have it floating. Tile would be laid down using mortar, so there's really only one option. With a water event even with tongue and groove engineered hardwood or laminate, the wood flooring wouldn't survive being flooded, so you'd have to replace it.
Considering LVP, I think that there are two main types correct? Floating as you mentioned earlier and click. Would click be as easy to remove compared to floating in the case of a water event?
Shaner wrote: Tile in the foyer and LVP in the basement with a proper underlay, and if you have the height, then put down plywood as well.
Tile in the basement would be awful. You don't want wood in the foyer though, it will get ruined from wet shoes.
What kind of underlay do you recommend? Or would it depend on the brand of LVP I get? If I can, I'd prefer underlayment as to insulate the floor a little so its not as cold.

In terms of the subfloor, I just want to be clear. So you are saying, put the plywood first, then LVP underlayment?
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Mar 10, 2004
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Dostk wrote: What brand or style of plank did you go with? Floating vs click? Also did you use underlayment for your basement or just put it directly on the floor?
I think u misunderstood me. I used wood looking tiles.
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Nov 17, 2012
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Dostk wrote: @Toukolou @exrcoupe

Thanks for the responses so far! I had another question regarding the type of material to use for the basement.

Let's say for example there was an issue with the plumbing, and I needed to get access to the subfloor. Would one material be better than the other in the event I need it to be removed? For example, would it be less costlier and/or easier to remove sections of LVP, as opposed to engineered hardwood or tile in this circumstance?

I recently had a plumbing issue so I needed to take the carpet out which was a huge hassle. If I can choose a material where I can have easy access to the subfloor to fix piping or other future issues, that would factor into my decision.
There is no plumbing under a subfloor in a basement. The only plumbing under the floor of a basement is the drain line under the concrete slab.

If you have problems with that, you're ripping up whatever floor you have down and cutting holes in the concrete. The only flooring you could do this reasonably with is a floating click-together plank floor, sitting on a wood subfloor system like Dricore or the like. Pull up the planks, pull up a few 2x2 Dricore panels, dig up the concrete, fix the drain line and reverse the process.

But chances are if you're doing that, you're pulling up the entire basement floor or a good chunk of it.

I did that 10 years ago - pulled up all my old Pergo laminate, tossed it in a dumpster. Pulled up a few sheets of plywood I had under it sitting on 2x4 sleepers with foam between them. Did the under slab drain work, put the subfloor back together and put new engineered hardwood down.

If it has to come up again ever, the hardwood is throwaway.

90% if you're digging up the basement, the top layer of finished flooring will be tossed and replaced.

Before you finish your basement, have the drains scoped and fix any issues first. Make sure you have a proper floor drain in place, a prime line run to it to keep the trap full and then do your finished floor.
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Nov 17, 2012
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I should correct myself, as my father's basement actually has a proper full subfloor on engineered joists, sitting 3 feet above the concrete slab. He dug it extra deep and had a full floor installed with an access hatch. Steeply sloped to a sump pit in the center. It's built on a river, and they pounded telephone pole piles to create a stable foundation.

So in his case, there is plumbing under the subfloor in the basement, and it's all accessible from the crawlspace under the subfloor. It's pretty brilliant, but really expensive.
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Dostk wrote: Considering LVP, I think that there are two main types correct? Floating as you mentioned earlier and click. Would click be as easy to remove compared to floating in the case of a water event?
Most LVP is click together tongue & groove installation or else it wouldn't stay together without some sort of adhesive holding the planks either to the subfloor or the concrete directly. Floating means that it's connected together, but not connected to the subfloor by nails or adhesive.

The issue with dri-core is that it's made from osb which will swell if it gets wet during a water event, thereby requiring you to replace it if you have a water event in the basement. That is the main reason I went with DMX and LVP, or else I would went with osb/plywood over a platon membrane. Having any sort of organic material like osb or plywood as a subfloor will require replacing when it gets damaged by water.
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Click SPC LVP is the way to go for basement. It is fully waterproof and easy to install (you can DIY with basic tools). It is easier to install than tiles. If you need access, it is easy to remove, you simply unclick the planks and you can get access (it has to be from the "edge", you cannot really remove planks without breaking them from the middle of a room I think). It is thin so you lose minimal height.

I am almost done installing mine in the basement and it is not very difficult (it was the first time I installed flooring). You simply need some planing around the doors, take your time.
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