We’re looking to replace the carpeting in our basement. I’m considering laminate, but I’m loath to lose height, assuming we’d have to install a subfloor. Are there better options?
Height counts for almost everything in a basement. The higher your ceilings, the less it feels like you’re underground.
If the opportunity is available, underpin the foundation and raise the ceilings as high as you possibly can. The other important feature in a basement is that it is dry and comfortable on the feet. For subterranean flooring, my favourite finish is wood installed over a subfloor with proper moisture control, plus area rugs. That configuration takes up about one and a half inches. To chew up less height, use a membrane that is about 1/8-inch thick under a laminate floor that floats. Your total construction height will be under one inch.
Basements are prone to moisture and, in a Canadian climate, the cold of the earth seeping in through the basement slabs, resulting in cold feet. The platinum solution is to heat the concrete slab to take the edge off and to lay stone overtop that will radiate the warmth, then layer an area rug overtop for softness. Keep in mind that this option requires heating the space so that the stone is comfortable underfoot. However, that might not, given global warming, be a long-term problem.