Best Basement Flooring Options

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The  basement floor is one of the trickiest floor, It ain’t your normal above grade floor. It carries the most moisture and humidity problem in your house. Moisture poses a challenge when installing the basement floor.

Most properly installed types of flooring can be used in a below-grade basement and withstand dampness, moisture and high humidity. Porcelain/ ceramic tile, engineered wood, rubber and laminate flooring are manufactures with moisture-resistant capabilities. Installing a vapour barrier under your flooring help overcome some drawbacks.

Solid hardwood flooring and laminate flooring that aren’t waterproof should be avoided. The best flooring for basement cement floor should not warp and buckle, de-laminate or separate even if the place flood.

The great news is there a list of options available for the below-grade floor. In this article, we look at different best basement flooring ideas for different environmental conditions.

9 Best Basement Flooring Options

Properly installed basement flooring should be able to withstand high traffic, moisture, and the test of time.

Here is a list of several available best basement flooring options for you.

Wood Flooring

Solid and engineered wood provides dimension-ally stable basement flooring. Both can be installed in uneven concrete. Wood provides good sound absorption and it is attractive although it is very expensive and requires sub-floor.

Solid wood may not be good water-resistant. But engineered wood provides a different flooring, able to resist a limited amount of moisture and water.

The use of floor underlayment can improve the wood floor’s ability to handle moisture content on the basement floor. However, for engineered wood flooring it selects below-grade basements to click together tiles and planks.

Solid and engineered wood-floor (laminate and vinyl flooring) is not good for the basement floor with damp conditions and high humidity. They both warp, buckle, or even de-laminate when they absorb moisture.

Carpets Flooring

The Carpet flooring is available in different quality ranging from heavy-duty to less durable. Carpets are good for basement flooring with the exception of flooding and high water moisture. If your basement is dry, carpet can give you reliable service for decades. Select one of the best area rugs for your basement.

Be prepared to replace the entire carpet in event of flooding, broken pipes, or even a malfunctioning water system. Carpets dry slowly and can easily develop mold and mildew. They also feel mushy and uncomfortable when wet. However, carpets improve sound quality and provides the warmest basement flooring for kids, and in-expensive flooring option.

Flooding and perennial dampness do affect the lifespan of the carpet. The best way to install carpet on your basement is to put waterproof vapor and water barrier. In addition we would recommend getting carpets with synthetic fiber backer rather natural jute backers.

Ceramic / Porcelain Tile Flooring

Ceramic or porcelain tiles provide the best basement inexpensive-durable flooring option. It is very attractive, requires no more finishing and water resistant and waterproof. The tiles remains undamaged even in case of flooding,it doesn’t rot, or encourage mildew and mold growth. It provides a good option for uneven flooring.

Ceramic and porcelain comes in many varieties and colors which is installed directly on the concrete slab. In areas where the water come from below, its good to add water barrier protection against water moisture.

Ceramic tiles are hard and cold, adding rugs and radiant heating system may help over come this draw back. This basement flooring type, doesn’t require an underlayment, but once installed the grout should be sealers regularly to prevent mold and mildew growth. We also recommend to avoid installing these tiles if you got plywood sub-floor, it usually develop cracks as the plywood expand and contacts. During installation it may require significant preparation and feels cols under-feet.

Vinyl Flooring basement floor

Luxury Vinyl tile is a great floor basement tile flooring, for an extra living room, laundry room, garage,  or and workshop. Vinyl is easy to install without the need for adhesives. It is attractive, highly durable, and allows easy flow of air underneath to the sub-floor.

LVT  is embossed with different textures and pattern that may bring hardwood resemblance to your basement floor. Installing vinyl basement is one of the cheap basement flooring available especially since its low maintenance.

Currently, there is 100% waterproof vinyl flooring that is ultra-durable and good for flood prone basements. It also a low  maintenance cheap flooring covering that can even installed on uneven and imperfect sub-floors.

LVT do resemble wood floor, warm underfoot and one of DIY friendly basement flooring. However, it lack high end appearance and some type of vinyl flooring such as sheet vinyl lacks waterproof ability.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is very attractive especially  due to improved graphics and deep embossing. However, it’s susceptible to moisture and flooring problems. Laminate swells up to and never returns as a result of the water problem. Laminate flooring do buckle, warp, de-laminate, separate and prone to lifting.

Currently, the waterproof laminate is good for your basement since it does not swell. It does also have good sound absorption qualities. Engineered wood and laminate made of moisture resistance core works well for the below-grade floor.

Concrete Flooring

Concrete floor is porous and prone moisture and water seepage. However, it may remain unaffected if it was well installed but will lead to growth of mold and mildew underneath especially if you got basement flooring like vinyl. Its recommended you install a vapour barrier under your flooring or seal with paint and  or epoxy coating, if the areas is more prone to dampness.

Concrete  can be stained or painted to make it attractive. Painting with epoxy coating or paints that are made specifically for moisture-prone areas to help improve concrete permeability. Epoxy is easy to install, with variety of colors to choose from and can make your concrete floor totally waterproof. 

Epoxy sealed concrete floors rejuvenate your floor by adding color and patterns depending on your taste and preference. In addition epoxy make the floor resistant to germs and bacterial, low maintenance and easy to install procedure.Tiles, laminate, and vinyl flooring are good options to install over concrete.

However, its the coldest, has poor sound absorption and requires intensive cleaning. Whats more, the home owners have devised a way to put area rugs, tiles, or rubber on top of it to overcome the concrete drawbacks.

Cork Flooring

The Cork flooring provides a soft and warm flooring to walk on and a good sound absorption. It’s prone to deterioration and subject to damage due to water moisture and flooding. It may also require the installation of a sub-floor system.

Rubber Flooring

Rubber flooring is one of the great flooring for basement that floods. Rubber flooring is one of the best basement floor covering for gyms, garages, dance, studios, pools, and martial arts rooms. Yes rubber is  a good preference for basement flooring ideas and a good option to consider..

Roll rubber and  interlocking tiles provide DIY friendly installation floor, soft surface, and good against moisture and flooding. Aesthetically, it may not be the best for your living room although currently there is a lot of improvement.

It is available in sheets and DIY’s friendly tiles with interlocking edges. Rubber flooring provides a nice basement covering and a great choice for the basement floor.

Engineered wood flooring

Engineered wood floor is produced from trees, thus 100 organic floor. However, solid hardwood flooring tend to be affected by dampness and wood rot.  Therefore, Engineered wood flooring does overcome this problem, providing one of the most stable durable flooring that can be used  as basement floor covering.

Its attractive with great sound absorption ability but still get damaged when exposed to a lot of water moisture. Its also a little bit expensive that other basement flooring and since its nailed or stapled down will be an issue if water get trapped under sub-floor.

Things to Consider When Selecting Basement Flooring

  • Is my basement prone to flooding? This will definitely give an idea of what to look for. Waterproof or water-resistant flooring or even one that is easily replaceable without digging deep into your pocket would be ideal.
  • How will I use in my basement for? You may be planning to use it as a gym, laundry room, bathroom, movie room, or even study or playroom for the kids. This will enable you to decide the kind of comfort you wish to achieve.
  • Who will install my basement floor? You may be a DIY kind of person or have decided to hire a flooring expert. This will definitely determine if to go for easy to install the material or otherwise.
  • I’m I going to install a floating flooring? For all floating flooring, consider installing a water moisture underlayment and properly sealing it once done. This will help overcome the drawbacks related with floating floors
  • Fix the concrete sub-floor– Ensure you consider fixing the concrete sub-floor no matter which basement covering you intend to install. Original concrete floor tend to be un even and mo so prone to cracks, dampness and mildew and mold growth. Fixing it ensure yo avoid future repairs

Tips for Below Grade Floor

  • Tile and concrete do outperform soft flooring materials in below-grade areas.
  • Inorganic materials are a good choice for the below-grade floor than their organic material counterpart. However, Inorganic materials enhance the growth of mold and mildew but don’t deteriorate, whereas organic will enhance grow mold and rot away in a wet basement.
  • A monolithic floor tends to be easier to dry out without trapping a lot of moisture compared with a multi-layered floor system.
  • If possible ensure you raise your below grade sub-floor a little bit to be sure you have dealt with dampness problem.

Sources and References

Rubber: What is Rubber Flooring?

Hgtv: Pro and Cons of Ceramic Tiles?

Tiles: Advantages and Disadvantages of Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles?

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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