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Making peace with your concrete floor by insulating and levelling

Bryan Baeumler offers easy DIY tips on how to install subfloor panels

You’re a do-it-yourselfer in the middle of converting your basement or garage into a comfortable year-round living or work space and plan to do so by installing a new floor over that cold and hard concrete. However, before you install the new floor, the best thing to do is to insulate the concrete with a good subflooring product.

Installing something like DRICORE® Subfloor R+ panels is quite easy. The product as been designed as ready-to-use, followed by simply topping it off with your favorite finished floor. As a matter of fact, the ease of installation means that a typical 500 square foot room can be done in an afternoon and the investment adds additional value to your renovation. Sounds good, right? So, let’s get started!


The concrete floor or basement foundation should be prepped by ensuring that it’s dry and free of large cracks, excessive moisture penetration or flooding problems prior to installing the subfloor panels. While a good subflooring product will do wonders, it’s not meant to replace a proper foundation. Moisture issues caused from leaks or excessive moisture, mould/musty spots, window leaks or exterior drainage or hydrostatic pressure issues, all should be resolved prior to subfloor installation to protect the completed project and surrounding building materials. Foundation cracks should also be taken care of and can easily be repaired with DRICORE PROConcrete Repair. Any sloping or low areas in the concrete surface should also be levelled to ensure the best possible installation.

Once your concrete is ready, you must then determine the number of subfloor panels and leveling kits needed to complete the room. To do this, an easy method that you can follow is calculating the total number of square feet of your floor (length x width). Divide the number by 3.3. This is a fantastic do-it-yourselfer formula that allows for a percentage of additional panels normally used as partial waste, while cutting around pipes and other obstacles. The panel dimensions for DRICORE Subfloor R+ are 7/8″ x 23.5″ x 23.5″. You can make a proper calculation with this handy calculator.


With a minimal arsenal of tools, you can easily install your subfloor. You can start by conquering a corner and laying the first panel with the tongue side flat against the spacers. Then slide the nextpanel into place by connecting the tongue side into the groove of the first panel and then using your tapping block and hammer to make sure the second panel is snug fitting to the first panel, and to the wall spacer. Repeat the panel placement along the length of the wall. Once you reach the last panel in this first row, the odds are that you’ll have to cut the panel, so that it’s measured to fit against the ¼” spacer. Then cut the panel to size and press it into place with the pull bar while ensuring that it’s at least 3”. The first three rows are the most critical to a well finished job, so please go slowly, and place down one row at a time installing tightly to prevent any seam separation and making sure that all is levelled and adjust any panels that bounce. The last thing you want is something that feels like a trampoline. Where necessary you can use leveling shims. They simply fit over the cleats on the underside of the subfloor panels, raising the panels to the desired level.

When all is said and done and your panels are set in place, you might be able to remove the spacers from around the perimeter of the room, depending on the finished flooring application that you chose.

Complete the job with flooring

A good subfloor product will ensure a warm, dry and comfortable room throughout the entire year. The air gap technology allows for constant air flow and evaporation of surface moisture emitted from a concrete floor. Sound is also dampened for a quieter floor. In terms of a finished floor, you can add anything over top – engineered hardwood, laminate, your favourite carpet, vinyl or ceramic tile. Anything goes. If you’re updating your garage for a great storage place for your toys, you can just apply few coats of polyurethane and call it a day.

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