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Did you know, renovating a basement can be a trickier affair than other parts of your house? A basement comes with its own set of challenges, including residual moisture and flooding. Well, worry not. This guide will take you through some of the best basement flooring options that are available so that your remodeling is seamless and yields good results.
When it comes to choosing basement flooring for your home, the goal is to select the most suitable type and install it well. The best flooring for the basement can easily stand up to damp conditions and high humidity. A little bit of planning will prevent your living space from being dark, damp, and cold.
Planning a renovation for your house? Try our free home remodel cost estimator; it’s easy and convenient to use!
10 Best types of basement flooring options
Now, let’s explore 10 of the best flooring for basements as well as their pros and cons. Selecting a good flooring material was never this easy!
1. Engineered vinyl planks or tiles
The best part about an engineered plank aka luxury vinyl plank or tile is that it can mimic a hardwood flooring while being waterproof! The cork underlayment provides a bit of cushioning, insulation, and sound absorption too.
This type of flooring is a great option to hold up to water or moisture while looking really elegant. It’s available in both wood-like as well as tile-like planks.
If you’re a handy DIYer, you can install engineered vinyl floor yourself. However, we recommend hiring a professional floor installer for a seamless job.
Pro tip: Before the flooring installation, make sure that your subfloor is NOT bumpy and uneven. Otherwise, this type of floating floor may wobble or bounce. Moreover, if you’re installing the vinyl planks on a concrete slab, you need to install a vapor barrier between the foundation and planks.
The reason is that you don’t want the hydrostatic pressure from the ground to push and trap any water up from the foundation — and cause mold growth.
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Engineered vinyl plank/tiles
Pros Cons Waterproof Not suitable if your sub-floor is bumpy or uneven Looks like real wood Installation will require leveling of the sub-floor Quite affordable Higher material cost than other types of vinyl Long lasting Thick and warm
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2. Ceramic tiles or porcelain tiles
These tiles are also waterproof. Moreover, they are relatively easy to clean and highly durable — lasting you a long time. And, they come in a variety of styles. However, keep in mind that ceramic or porcelain tiles are rather cold on your feet.
Also, tile flooring is more often than not more expensive — involving higher labor cost and prep. But, it is a permanent basement flooring solution.
Pro tip: Ensure that you install the tiles directly on top of your concrete floor or cement board. And, a perfectly leveled one at that! DO NOT install on top of plywood or any wood. The tile will crack if the plywood expands or contracts due to extreme changes in the temperature or humidity levels.
Pros Cons Waterproof More expensive Durable May require extensive floor prep Adds immense value to your home.
This kind of capital home improvement will yield good ROI
Hard and cold surface A tad loud and reflects sound
3. Rubber flooring with rubber interlocking gym tiles
Also called exercise flooring, the interlocking gym tiles are becoming more and more popular. Providing good shock absorption and waterproofing, this thick surface is the ideal choice for workout enthusiasts.
As the flooring comes in interlocking pieces, you can install them yourself. Want to know something interesting? If your basement floor gets wet, you can just pick up these tiles, dry them, and put them back together again.
Since the rubber tiles are thicker, they easily camouflage any imperfections you may have in your subfloor.
Pro tip: If you’re on a really tight budget, you can also use soft rubber foam tiles aka EVA foam. While these tiles aren’t as durable as regular rubber tiles, they’re a good flooring option if you have small kids and babies in the house and want to create a play area for them.
Moreover, even if you have a tile floor, you can place the foam ones on top to make the area softer and warmer.
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Pros Cons Waterproof Are generally available only in darker colors Easy to install and remove Heavy Dries out easily in case of a flood Higher shipping costs Soft and thick; ideal for a gym
4. Carpet flooring
If keeping the remodeling budget low is a priority for you, a carpet for your basement flooring is a good idea; it’s the least expensive option. You can place the flexible coverings on all types of subfloor surfaces — even on the not-so-smooth surfaces.
Carpets are also a softer, warmer, and safer choice. But the real downside is that carpets get dirty real fast. They are harder to clean and may need to be replaced often.
Furthermore, carpeting doesn’t offer a waterproof solution. So, if your basement is prone to flooding, AVOID IT. A moisture-laden carpet will allow mold, mildew, or dust mites to grow.
Pro tip: DO NOT use the regular carpet cushion over a concrete surface. It’s a breeding ground for bacteria. Use a felt bad or a moisture barrier carpet cushion.
Do you want to have all your facts straight for your upcoming renovation process? Take a look at our ultimate guide on home remodeling.
Pros Cons Inexpensive option Not waterproof Softer and warmer Gets dirty easily; difficult to clean Good for camouflaging uneven subfloors May breed mildew, mold, or dust mites May need frequent replacement
5. Carpet tiles
If you want to create a more playful and creative environment in your basement, carpet tiles are a good choice. They are more stylish than a regular carpet and look almost like a hard surface. You also get a wide variety of styles, colors, and patterns to choose from.
Carpet tiles vs wall-to-wall carpeting or broadloom are also a better option as they tend to absorb less moisture due to their composition. Moreover, as compared to carpets, carpet tiles are easy to replace. For instance, if a particular section gets dirty, just replace the tiles of that area without changing the whole covering.
Pro tips: You can’t use carpet tiles on steps. If your basement has a moist environment, DO NOT use these tiles. It may wear down the pressure-sensitive adhesive at the back of these tiles.
Pros Cons Absorbs less moisture More expensive than a regular carpet More resilient to mildew, mold, and dust mites Not suitable for steps Stylish option A damp basement will wear down the pressure-sensitive adhesive Lots of color and pattern choices Easy to replace in sections
6. Stained concrete or acid etched floors
If you’ve seen a shiny, stylish floor in commercials, chances are it’s a stained concrete floor. Such a floor imparts a luxurious radiance that’s matchless. The stain, unlike the opaque look of a painted floor, creates lovely translucent tones that vary across the entire floor.
Whether you want to create a neutral floor or a colorful one, you can choose your own unique design.
Pro tips: Because of the unique stains, no two acid-etched floors are similar. Also, such a floor doesn’t require a subfloor.
Take a look at our guide on Main Reasons for Cracks in Concrete Floor and What to do About It
Pros Cons Most moisture resilient Cold and hard to the touch Doesn’t require a subfloor Gives no option for radiant heat flooring underneath Available in many colors, styles, and designs Poor sound insulation More extensive installation with floor prep and scouring Higher labor charges
7. Sheet vinyl
Sheet vinyl, also called resilient flooring, is waterproof and has an almost seamless impervious surface. This type of inexpensive flooring is ideal for areas that get damp, such as a basement.
The thing with sheet vinyl is that you have to be careful while choosing your design lest it looks a bit dated. Moreover, in order to install such a floor, you need to prep your floor and smoothen it.
Also, sizing can be a bit of an issue. Since sheet vinyl usually comes in 12-foot rolls, you need to have an exact measurement in order to cover your entire basement area. You want your flooring to look consistent and well-planned, right?
Pro tips: Such a project is best left to the professionals as you need special tools and adhesives to install this hard flooring.
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Pros Cons Inexpensive option Requires proper floor prep Waterproof; ideal for a basement Difficult installation; best done by a professional Warm to the touch May look a tad dated
8. Glue down vinyl tiles or planks
A good alternative to engineered vinyl plank is to use vinyl covering that you can glue down. Most luxurious glue down vinyl tends to be waterproof and durable. The best part is that such a plank or tile works well even over surfaces that are uneven.
Having said that, it’s a sensible thing to level the floor with self-leveling cement first. Or, you could use a couple of skim coats to smooth out the basement floor.
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Pro tips: DON’T opt for cheaper glue down vinyl planks and tiles. They are thinner and don’t hold up well against moisture damage.
Glued vinyl tiles/planks
Pros Cons Works even on uneven surfaces Requires a professional installation Most higher grade ones are waterproof Cheaper varieties are not waterproof Warm to the touch Adhesive may wear off in damp areas
9. Engineered hardwood floors
Installing solid hardwood floors in the basement is not a practical solution. Opting for an engineered hardwood floor instead gives you an equally wonderful surface, maybe for adding a kitchen. Interestingly, it’s designed in such a way that there’s less expansion and contraction with fluctuating temperature and humidity changes. And, it can be glued or floated on a leveled concrete subfloor.
Pro tips: While installing engineered flooring, be sure to use a moisture meter to test the moisture levels in your basement and consider buying a dehumidifier to regulate humidity.
Pros Cons Looks beautiful Expensive option Improves your home value Will require floor prep Warm to touch Not completely waterproof
10. Interlocking raised modular vinyl or carpet tiles
These floating, interlocking flooring tiles come as vinyl and carpet tiles. They are waterproof and mold resistant. And, are able to withstand flooding.
Interestingly, the finished surface is raised from the slab by pegs. Such a structure creates an air pocket — allowing the air to circulate underneath — making it easy for the ground moisture to dry. Moreover, the tiles are easy to install with pieces snapping into place, and can be removed too.
Pro tips: Though these tiles can camouflage minor imperfections and unevenness in the subfloor, it’s a good idea to level your surface if you want the tiles to line up properly.
Interlocking vinyl/carpet tiles
Pros Cons Less expensive Not easily available Easy to install May look a tad cheap if not chosen carefully Hides surface imperfections
Now that you know about the best flooring options, you ought to know the worst too. You cannot afford to have a floor that’s damp, dingy, and high-maintenance most of the time. For this reason, there are some flooring materials that you MUST AVOID at all costs.
4 Basement flooring materials to avoid
The following materials are the most unsuitable choices for a basement (even though they are good for other living spaces):
Finished or unfinished, your basement is a space with endless possibilities. Now that you’ve decided to put it to good use, we hope our guide on the best flooring options for your basement will help you zero in on the most suitable kind.
No matter which flooring you choose, the goal is to keep your basement dry, healthy, and long-lasting.
Read more: Rubber flooring pros cons