Whether you are building a new house with a basement or renovating your current residence, there are several important factors to take into consideration when deciding on the basement flooring option that will work best for your home. In this post, we will discuss what to consider when choosing a material for your basement flooring as well as some of the best basement flooring options on the market to ensure you get the most out of your updated basement.
Factors to consider when deciding on basement flooring options
Plan on moisture
Since basements are located below ground level (also referred to as “below grade” by contractors), moisture is the number one consideration to take into account when choosing basement flooring. This is because no matter where you live any part of your home located below ground level is vulnerable to damage from water vapor, even if flooding is not an issue in your area.
When deciding on the flooring that is right for your basement your first consideration should be the level of moisture protection you will need. If your basement is vulnerable to flooding, you will want to consider waterproof materials that can easily dry out and may also need to consider taking steps to protect your basement from flooding. Even if flooding is not a concern, you still want to focus on flooring that will perform well in a moist humid environment, that are resistant to mold and mildew.
Ensure a level surface
Another unique factor to consider when choosing basement flooring is whether or not your basement floor is level, as an uneven surface can damage flooring and also take away from the overall aesthetic of the room. Since uneven surfaces (often made of concrete) are common in basements, it is key to inspect for and repair any slopes, cracks, and low areas before committing to a specific flooring.
Fortunately, even if your floors aren’t completely level, there are easy steps you can take to even them out so that you can install the flooring of your dreams. These can include patching cracks, filling in low points, sanding high areas, or even installing a subfloor.
Decide how you plan to use your basement
The final factor you should consider before deciding on a basement flooring option is what you intend to use your basement for. If you only plan to use it for storage, a basic concrete floor with an epoxy coating should suffice. Meanwhile, a rubber floor is an easy option for a home gym or playroom. However, if you want to use your updated basement as a bedroom, home office, TV room, or entertaining area, you will most likely want to consider a more aesthetically-pleasing flooring option, like vinyl, tile, or engineered wood.
Best basement flooring options
There is a huge selection of floors to choose from, so what are the pros and cons of each? Now that you know a little bit more about what considerations need to go into choosing a basement floor, here is a list of some of the best basement flooring options that should last your family for many years.
Vinyl tile or vinyl plank flooring is a wonderful option for use in moist environments like basements — especially for those that want the look of hardwood floors without the risks associated with installing them in a flood-prone area of the home. Since vinyl is made of flexible plastic, it holds up extremely well in damp environments. Some vinyl can even survive minor flooding! Vinyl flooring is also resistant to both mold and mildew, so you won’t have to worry about that notorious musty smell in your basement. Available in styles that mimic hardwood, tile, and even stone, vinyl flooring is an attractive option for basements you plan to use frequently.
Thanks to its durability and resistance to water damage, ceramic tile is another good option for basement flooring. Since ceramic tiles are glazed, they cannot be damaged by water, and will also not harbor mold or mildew. We suggest installing ceramic tile directly over a concrete slab. However, it is important to never use a plywood subfloor, as this can be affected by moisture, which can lead to damage to your tile. Ceramic tile can also be made to mimic wood flooring, making it another alternative to hardwood floors in a damp basement environment.
If you are planning to use your basement mainly as a playroom or home gym, waterproof rubber flooring is an excellent option. Highly affordable, rubber flooring can be purchased for about $3/square foot and is easy to install on your own without calling in the professionals. It also comes in a variety of bright, fun colors and provides a cushiony surface, making it ideal if you plan to use your basement for playtime and workouts.
If you have your heart set on hardwood flooring for your basement, you are in luck! Engineered wood flooring, which is more dimensionally stable than traditional hardwood floors gives you the look of solid hardwood floors, without the risk of warping and damage. This is because engineered wood floors are made up of a thin layer of solid wood with sturdy plywood back, that is resistant to moisture. This option is one of the more expensive basement flooring options but is definitely worth the investment if you plan to use the room on a regular basis.
Concrete sealed with epoxy
Most basement floors are concrete, so if you are looking for a low-cost flooring option, you may want to simply coat your existing concrete floors with epoxy. This coating will protect the floor from moisture, cracking, and damage, and is also resistant to bacteria and germs that can be harbored in moist environments. Although this is not the most attractive option, it is perfect for those that don’t plan to use their basement frequently.
Carpet tiles are an extremely affordable basement flooring option that works especially well for busy families since they are easy to clean and maintain. Available in peel and stick forms, these tiles are incredibly easy to install on your own, and can also be easily removed and replaced if damage occurs. Ideal for moist environments, you can even remove your carpet tiles and set them outside to dry if minor flooding occurs, however in the chance of major flooding they may need to be replaced.
Time for a new basement floor? Don’t sweat it! By considering the moisture levels in your basement, ensuring your floor is level, and deciding what you plan to use your basement for, choosing a basement flooring option is as easy as 1, 2, 3.