Why All-Foam Basement Subfloors Make Sense


insul armor panels

Insul-armor panels. Photo by Steve Maxwell

Why All-Foam Basement Subfloors Make Sense 

As creator and instructor for a popular online basement finishing course,  I’m always looking for new and useful innovations to make finished basements better. DRICORE Insul-Armor all-foam subfloor panels are my latest discovery, they’re unique, and they do things that other basement subfloor options can’t match. To make sense of this innovation, you need to understand something about how effective basement subfloors work, and how they do more than just keep feet warm. In fact, foot comfort is not even their most important job.

The most important function of subfloor panels is to stop the dynamic of condensation and potential mold growth that’s the real reason so many basements smell musty. Here’s the dynamic and how subfloor panels make things better . . . 

Why Basements Are Musty

Let’s say it’s 90ºF outside with 90% relative humidity, and 70ºF in your basement with 70% relative humidity. If warm, outdoor air is allowed to work its way into your house from outside, some of it will enter into the basement where it will cool. Since the ability of air to hold moisture is proportional to air temperature, as that outdoor air cools its relative humidity rises even though the air didn’t pick up any additional moisture. Cooling temperatures always lead to the air losing its ability to hold moisture. Things get really serious if warm outdoor air is allowed to contact a concrete basement floor. This often allows the air to cool enough to trigger the appearance of small (typically microscopic) water droplets to form either on the concrete, or worse, within the fibers of carpet if it’s installed directly on concrete with no subfloor. This common dynamic of air infiltration, cooling, condensation and mold/mildew growth is common in unfinished and poorly finished basements, but it’s also one reason basement subfloors make sense. 

Preventing Micro-Condensation

One under-appreciated thing subfloor panels do is stop the dynamic of cooling and condensation because they keep concrete basement floors sealed under a layer that air can’t pass through. As long as indoor air is prevented from touching the concrete, cooling won’t happen and neither will condensation. Subfloor panels fit together tightly enough that they create an effective vapour barrier that prevents humid air from infiltrating down to the level of concrete. This is key. 

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