If you are considering sprucing up your basement or in the midst of planning for a basement finishing project, you likely have a lot of questions about basement flooring. Below is a basement flooring guide to address many of your needs.
Flooring for Basement Options
Choosing the best flooring for your basement can be a tricky process due to the wide variety of options as well as the fact that most basements are vulnerable to getting wet.
Here are some of the more popular basement flooring options that go over concrete:
Epoxy floor coating
Basement floor paint
Epoxy floor coating
This basement flooring option is a great choice if you like cement, but want a simple way to give it a finished look. Epoxy basement floor coating will provide a protective layer that is water-resistant, stain-resistant, shiny, and easy to clean. This option is great for basements that frequently get wet through leaks or flooding, because it saves you from having to replace any nice wood or carpeting with each flooding incident.
Carpeting is a great choice for basements that have basement waterproofing methods in place and that generally stay dry. For the instances when the occasional basement wetness does occur, it is a good idea to install an anti-microbial carpet padding underneath the carpet to reduce the chances of mold growth from it. Basement carpets can provide great insulation and hold up well for a long time if they remain dry.
Ceramic tile is another solid option for when you do not want to take the risk of water damage. You should cover your tiles and grout with a glaze or sealant to make sure they are protected from any moisture. Some other perks of ceramic tile flooring include that it can be installed right on top of the concrete and it is easy to clean.
Wood flooring is always beautiful in a finished basement, but if there is any water intrusion there could be swelling and buckling in the wood, leading to pricey repairs. It is recommended that if you go the hardwood route you should install a subfloor below the wood.
Possibly the greatest feature of laminate flooring is that it can look just like real wood, but is a fraction of the price. Laminate flooring comes in many styles and finishes, including those that resemble tile and stone. Another reason why this option is so attractive is that it can stand up to moisture much better than real wood. It is also cheaper to replace if there is any water damage. Since basement flooding is a common occurrence, this is one of the more appealing qualities of laminate flooring.
Vinyl flooring can come in planks, tiles, or larger sheets. Just like with laminate flooring, vinyl flooring can closely resemble wood flooring at a more affordable price. It also comes in styles that resemble materials like marble, slate, and travertine. Vinyl is a durable flooring choice that is resistant to moisture, scratches, and dents.
Rubber flooring comes in mats or tiles and is easy to install or remove. Another great feature of rubber is that it is resistant to water, mold, and mildew. People often choose rubber flooring in their basement for a home gym, playroom, or simply to bring warmth and comfort to their basement storage area.
Basement Floor Paint
Painting the basement floor is a simple and inexpensive option to quickly spruce up a space. You must use an epoxy paint that is made specifically for concrete flooring. It has the durability needed to withstand foot traffic and scuffing that regular paints lack.
Bamboo is an eco-friendly flooring option that is also resistaant to moisture. It is also softer under your feet, making it less noisy. However some
of the downsides of bamboo are that this softness make it more likely to show dents and marks and it can also be very expensive.
Cork is also greener than many of the above options,but it can be pricey and easily show damage.
Things to Consider When Selecting Basement Flooring
The kind of flooring you want for your basement may not be best suited for your specific basement environment. Below are some things to consider when choosing the kind of flooring you need:
Moisture and high humidity:
Basements are notorious for their high moisture and humidity levels. This is because due to its position in the home, there are a lot of ways that water can get into a basement from cracks in the foundation to poor outdoor drainage during a storm. If your basement lacks proper waterproofing methods or your home is located on a floodplain, you may need to focus on options that are water-resistant and less expensive to replace in the chance of water damage such as laminate, vinyl, or rubber flooring.
With moisture and high humidity comes mold. This is very important to stay on top of in any home due to the structural and health problems it can cause. Just as with the moisture and humidity recommendations, if this is the case for you choose flooring that is water resistant and inexpensive. Rubber flooring is probably your best bet since it is antimicrobial, but laminate, vinyl, and floor paint are good options as well.
Floor not completely level:
Basement floors are often not completely level. This can be due to things like a poor concrete job in the first place or that it is just old and the ground has shifted creating cracks and bumps. Unfortunately, level floors are needed for options like wood, ceramic tile, laminate, and vinyl. If you have your heart set on one of these flooring types and your floor is uneven, the next action you should take is to call in help to level out your basement floor. If your floor is uneven and you do not wish to put time and money into leveling it out, epoxy floor coating, rubber flooring, and basement floor paint are great options for you.
If the ceiling in your basement is very low, which is common in a lot of basements, the thickness of the flooring may be a consideration for you. When ceilings are low, every inch counts and you hate to lose even an extra inch of space.
The intended use for the space:
What you plan to use the basement space for should have a direct impact on your flooring choices. For example, if the space is just going to be used for storage or a home gym there is no reason to shell out a lot of money for wood flooring and you may want to consider rubber flooring, but if you are going to use it as a media center or a guest space, carpeting, laminate, bamboo, or wood flooring may be more what you need.
If you have bad allergies, carpeting may not be the best choice for you. It can trap dust and other allergens in its fibers and if it gets wet it can breed mold and mildew.
The basement utility room:
The room in your basement that holds the HVAC unit, circuit breaker, basement floor drains, sump pump, and other home systems is known as the utility room. It is wise not to cover up the concrete flooring in this room with anything other than epoxy coating. Reasons for this include that this room is very likely to experience flooding and you do not want to have to repeatedly replacing the flooring, it is very rare that a guest would ever see this room and therefore no reason to spend money on flooring, as well as when maintenance professionals come in for a repair they will need direct access to all working parts and cannot have access blocked by any flooring.
Cracks in the basement floor:
Basement floor cracks are a common source for basement flooding. Before taking steps to put any flooring down, make sure to seal any cracks in the basement floor to protect from moisture seeping in.
Basement Flooring Cost
On average, the cost to install a basement floor ranges between $1,500 and $4,500, but prices can fall below or above this range depending on factors like the complexity of the job and the flooring materials being installed. Below is a breakdown in average price differences by flooring material. For each material listed below, the quality and type of that specific material chosen (as well as the associated sales tax) will drastically impact the final cost of the job.
$4 – $6 per square foot
- Ceramic Tile:
$5 – $20 per square foot
- Wood Flooring:
$8 – $14 per square foot
- Laminate Flooring:
$6 – $10 per square foot
- Vinyl Flooring:
$5 – $8 per square foot
- Bamboo Flooring:
$5 – $8 per square foot
- Cork Flooring:
$4 – $7 per square foot
How to Install a Laminate Floor
For our flooring installation how-to, we decided to focus on laminate flooring because it is one of the more popular choices when it comes to basement flooring due to its water resistance, affordability, and beautiful looks. There are many different approaches to installing a laminate flooring so be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific flooring pieces.
Choose a style or pattern that you would like for your basement.
Prepare the subfloor by removing any baseboards, carpeting, and leveling out the subfloor.
Install underlayment or moisture barrier if needed. Some flooring does not require it.
Laminate floors come with one side that has a protruding tongue and the other side has a groove so that they fit snugly together when connected. For the side that will go against the wall edge, take the tongue side and cut the tongue off so it can lie flat against the wall and make sure the groove side faces inside. Use a spacer to leave a quarter of an inch gap between the flooring edge and the wall.
Stagger the joints of planks in connecting rows by one foot, but make sure that the pieces within the same row fit exactly. When starting a new row, fit the groove of one piece into the tongue of next piece so they lock together. Make sure everything fits evenly with no gaps. Once you complete the first couple of rows, put a weight on one edge to keep them in place while you finish out the rows.
Continue installing the rest of the flooring, row by row.
Use a power saw to cut out spaces in the flooring for vents or other things you need to work around. If you are installing laminate flooring around a toilet, tub, or sink, make sure to use a sealant around the edges so there is no space for water to seep into.
Measure out the last row. When you get to the last row, there may not be room for a full plank so you will need to measure the remaining space, subtract the 1/4 inch space to leave along the edge, then cut the piece to fit. Measure from the edge that will be visible in the floor and not the tongue underneath that extends out further. You may need to use a pull bar to insert final row.
Install finishing touches like moldings, transition strips, and baseboards.
The right flooring style can give a basement the finishing touch it needs to elevate the space,but various elements common in basements such as high moisture and humidity levels make choosing a style a complicated decision. Hopefully this basement flooring guide helped bring your specific flooring needs into focus.