Finally the decision was made : Dri-core base with a hard plastic underlay 1/2 inch off the floor, to be followed by a floating floor of engineered hardwood, suitable for use in mildly moist conditions.
The order was placed and free delivery haggled over, finally arriving a day after the purchase on a long bed truck. We spent a good 45 minutes helping the delivery guy move all the pieces into the basement.
My husband slit open a container of the engineered hardwood planks and marvelled at its construction - a 1/8 inch hardwood veneer bonded with adhesive to plywood layers and then his face broke out in a frown. "This could be a problem. The instructions say that we have to glue these to the underlay. We can't do a floating floor with this type after all."
I had visions of myself being commandeered into carrying all those cases back to the minivan, as a prelude to the 'return and exchange' routine we go through quite frequently with home improvement purchases.
Not so easy, this time. My husband is still back at his laptop tapping away to find other alternatives and this time seems convinced that vinyl may be a better option, even though not quite as realistic in appearance as the purchased planks.
So, off he's gone again to look for more vinyl patterns to choose from. And I can anticipate a trip to Lowes or Home Depot next week for the mandatory second opinion before anything happens in the basement.