DRIcore is a subfloor or subwall technology that fights against potentially devastating side effects of general wear and tear. DRIcore particularly protects against issues associated with moisture such as mold and mildew that can worsen over time and threaten the structure of your home. As such, it is especially useful in areas like basements and garages or any other prone to these issues. While DRIcore can be a great option, it is not the only one that you have.
In this guide, we’ve broken down all of the alternatives and which is best for your needs.
How Does DRIcore Work?
DRIcore was created by a contractor who was looking to minimize the hassle of traditional subflooring processes. The mechanics of DRIcore are very intricate, but the subflooring option is essentially a polyethylene barrier that helps keep moisture from the subfloor via the high-density material and its core. When installing, DRIcore interlocks to form a durable sheet built to protect your floors, rather than having to tirelessly drill or fasten the different parts together. The airspace this raised structure creates is hard to beat, especially when paired with easy installation.
What is Subflooring?
Subflooring is used to cover and protect the ground floor from the elements. Subflooring comes in multiple forms that range in cost and effectiveness. You will only ever need a subfloor barrier if you plan to lay flooring over top of that base layer.
So, for example, if you wanted to turn your garage into a family room and wanted to add hardwoods to complete the look. Before you place those hardwood planks over your cement garage floor, you will want to add the subfloor, which acts as a buffer to help air out the space between the base floor and that top layer. If a subfloor is not present, moisture can get trapped and lead to serious problems down the line.
Where to Use Subflooring
If you’re redoing the floors in your basement, garage, bathroom, or any area otherwise prone to dampness, you should be installing a subfloor. Without subflooring, your base layer, for example, the cement floor, is completely vulnerable to the elements and will trap moisture in between the layer itself and the floor you’ve laid down over top.
Why DRIcore May Not be the Best Choice
DRICORE® can be an expensive choice for subflooring or sub walls. If you’re not able to shell out that money upfront, especially if you’re completely renovating a space and money is tight, then DRIcore may not be a valid choice. Instead, you might find luck with alternatives that offer similar benefits with substantially lower costs.
Typically when you think of subflooring you think of something adaptable and malleable, yet your cement flooring can be used. You will simply need to lay down a floating subfloor that can work with your stubborn concrete. These floating subfloors are made from Oriented Strand Board (OSB) but adapted to work with the cement with tongue-and-groove technology.
This subflooring option is a patented sheet of high-density polyethylene, a type of plastic, with a dimpled surface. Upon laying this product on the floor, preferably concrete, the unique design and dimples allow for continual air flow and help prevent a buildup of moisture that can lead to serious issues down the line.
Plywood is a popular choice for subflooring and has been used for decades to provide a barrier for buildings. It’s often hailed as the most popular subfloor option, especially so by builders who prefer the adaptable and cheap material to alternatives like DRIcore. Plywood comes in different sizes and thicknesses, meaning there is an option best suited for your home.
DMX is similar to the above-mentioned Platon subflooring tool, though it varies slightly. It is a polyethylene material that utilizes dimples to provide air gaps. However, DMX also allows for flooring such as vinyl, laminate, or hardwoods to be directly installed on top of it. It is designed to minimize the chance of mold and even contribute to warming the floor through the insulation process.
Oriented Strand Board (OSB)
This subflooring option offers a thin sheet of scrapped together wood to create a barrier for basement floors. They are created by taking scraps of wood and pressing them together with adhesives to form this layer, often characterized by its mismatched wood strands. OSB isn’t just used for subflooring purposes. It is often used for construction projects, including for walls, roofs, and floors great for load-bearing when building.
A vapor barrier, or moisture barrier, is a thin sheet of plastic that helps to prevent, or at the very least slow down the spread from the surface down to the subfloor or subway. This option is relatively cheap and is great for subfloors like concrete because the material cannot regulate its own moisture and temperature levels.
Similar to plywood, but fundamentally different are wood planks. This subflooring option is composed of wood like Pine and are fastened to a horizontal structure, a wood joist. The joist works to keep the areas open with its slotted positioning, helping to keep the floor airy and dried out, despite wood planks being nailed to them. Wood planks are not the best option for longevity as the fasteners can become loose, and the infamous floor squeaks will begin to occur along your floor.
Perhaps the most viable option for your home is the one that features multiple subflooring options. Depending on your home’s needs, you may need to combine a few of the methods mentioned above to achieve the best results. With a bit of a Frankenstein appearance, these floors can offer great benefits.
Which Subflooring Option is Best When on A Budget?
If you’re on a budget, don’t stress out about obtaining the highest quality subflooring, but don’t skimp either. DRIcore is out of the question. However, you still have many budget-friendly options like plywood or a vapor barrier. Both are widely available and thus do not require mass amounts of money.
Which Subflooring Option is Best if I Live in a Really Damp Area?
You’ll want to go for the toughest option to combat the excess moisture that can come from living in humid or high-precipitation regions. The best option would be DMX or Platon because they create a barrier between the subflooring and top layer that allows for constant airflow.
Which Subflooring Option is Best for Those Concerned about Basement Height?
If you didn’t know, adjusting the floor via a subfloor addition, even if just the slightest bit, can have dramatic effects on space’s overall appearance, feel, and moisture levels. If you’re looking for that added layer of protection without cutting out too much vertical space, opt for a thinner subflooring product such as the simple vapor barrier. This rolls out similar to a plastic tarp and will not alter the height of your garage dramatically. However, it will not quite protect your floors like a thicker option would because the thicker options usually allow for more breathing space for your floors.