The basement can be a great place or an abandoned space. If you choose to turn your basement into a bonus space then it’s worth to consider, “what is the best flooring for basements?” Basements usually require a little extra thought when it comes to remodeling. There may not be a “best” overall flooring option, but rather a best flooring option for your circumstances.
If you happen to use the wrong flooring for your basement it can not only affect your health, but can also cost you money in the long run. Mold and mildew will not pass up on the opportunity to grow and spread, making it important that you don’t give them the chance. Mold and mildew can affect the air quality in your home and cause health issues.
Choosing the right flooring can prevent your floor from rotting and warping, saving you money from replacing your floor 1-2 years from now. It’s not all bad news though, installing floors into your basement will be easy once you know what you’re looking for. In this article, we will cover the best options so you can get the most out of your basement.
Many floors have different pros and cons. Ask yourself these questions to help narrow down which pros and cons are for you.
- How warm is your basement and will it impact your flooring decision?
- What is your budget?
- How important is the softness on your feet?
- Are you prone to flooding or water intrusion?
- How are you intending to use the basement? (e.g family room, home gym, office)
- What kind of sub-floor do you have?
- How level is your sub-floor?
Once you have a better idea of what preferences and priorities are important to you, you are ready to look at what type of flooring fills those preferences and priorities. Here’s the best options:
Carpet is a very affordable option. If your budget is a big priority for you then carpet might be your best bet. If you plan on spending time in the basement and have kids who enjoy the basement you may enjoy carpet even more. Carpet is a flexible option, it will work over all types of sub floors and can even smooth out small imperfections in the sub-floor on it’s own.
Carpet however, is not water proof. A flood will most likely completely ruin your carpet. Lots of moisture can also affect carpet in negative ways. If you’re basement has a very high level of moisture it creates the chance of developing mold and mildew. To eliminate any moisture issues, you can install a dimple style underlayment with plywood on top for your concrete subfloor. This would allow airflow underneath and prevent your carpet from getting mold and mildew. However, an underlayment will not protect your carpet from flooding. If your basement is prone to flooding the best option would be Epoxy Sealed Concrete Flooring, which we’ll discuss later.
Ceramic Tile provides a great option for a basement floor because it is very durable and water resistant. As long as the ceramic tile is glazed, water cannot make it through the floor. Another benefit of ceramic tile is the wide variety of colors. There are even some tiles that give the appearance of a wood floor. Ceramic tile is even immune to mold and mildew. However, Keep in mind your grout (edges where the tiles come together) may be vulnerable to mold. An easy way to prevent mold growth in the grout is annually treat with a water barrier sealant.
Your sub-floor matters when it comes to ceramic tiles. Ceramic tiles should only be installed over a smooth concrete sub-floor. If ceramic is installed on over a wood sub-floor and moisture does happen to get to it, your sub-floor can warp, which can potentially cause your tile to crack. If you are someone who likes to lean the safe side of things you can take the extra precaution and install a polyethylene seal between your sub-floor and tiles.
If you are going to using your basement often or have kids who like to play and spend time in the basement, the ceramic tiles can be hard and cold, making them uncomfortable. Putting rugs in the areas you spend the most time in is the easy way around this. If you want more warmth, for a little extra money you can have radiant heating installed under the ceramic tiles.
More and more people are beginning to exercise at home. This has created a big shift towards rubber flooring. Rubber flooring doesn’t only provide grip and shock absorption while you’re working out, it is also waterproof. Rubber flooring does not require to be glued down which makes it fairly simple to remove in case of a flood. The only difficulty when removing and installing rubber flooring is the heavy weight of the roll.
Epoxy Sealed Concrete Flooring
Epoxy is a resinous flooring that consists of polymer resins and hardeners. When properly mixed, the epoxy resin and hardener react to one another resulting in a chemical bond with a compound and with the floor itself. The chemical bond creates a very strong plastic material that is durable, resistant to degradation, and bonds exceptionally well to its substrate. If you want to learn more about epoxy, Epoxy Central explains further here.
Epoxy is low maintenance, inexpensive, and very durable. Another benefit of epoxy is that not affected by water damage. It is also very convenient to clean because it is naturally resistant to germs and bacteria and only needs sweeping and rarely a wet mop. There are numerous different colors and looks for epoxy and even if you end up not liking the look, another type of flooring can go easily over the epoxy.
On the flip side, epoxy floors are hard and cold and do not allow you to put radiant heating underneath. Prepping your floors for epoxy can be a tough job, and when installing epoxy the smell can be quite strong. Don’t worry, once the epoxy has dried the smell will start to fade away.
Luxury Vinyl Plank or Tile
Luxury vinyl flooring is a newer option to basement flooring. The biggest thing that sets luxury vinyl apart is its waterproof and scratch-resistant properties. It is set up to be a floating floor, which means it sits on top of the sub-floor/underlayment without being glued or nailed down. Luxury vinyl is able to replicate the material it is supposed to look like far better than floors that have came before it. Luxury vinyl plank will feel warmer on your feet than ceramic or epoxy sealed concrete. It will not be as warm as carpet though unless, you decide to install radiant floor heating underneath.
Since luxury vinyl plank is a seemed design, in an event of a flood it may let moisture leak down to the sub-floor. If you decide to install luxury vinyl plank you may want an underlayment with a moisture barrier attached. Here’s why:
- A moisture barrier will prevent your concrete from emitting moisture to the bottom of your floors
- The underlayment will support planks click-lock mechanism
- It will help stabilize the planks on uneven areas of the subfloor
- The underlayment will reduce the sound of impact on the floor (walking or dropping something)
If your concrete has a very high vapor transmission rate you might want to consider adding a polyethylene barrier (like the one we mentioned above) for the extra insurance. If luxury vinyl plank interests you, check out our in depth article “What to Look for in Luxury Vinyl Plank”.
The decision you make should be based on what fits your lifestyle. Remember to consider your budget, including short term and long term expenses. Remember, if your basement is prone to flooding, you may just want to save yourself the headaches and money by going with epoxy. As long as you have considered all your options and make an informed decision, you will find the perfect flooring for your own personal needs.