A lot of us shudder when we think about basement floors. They can be cold, dirty, comfortless, and unappealing surfaces to walk on, and are often cracked and damp. However, that definitely doesn’t have to be the case – and if you’re trying to make a modern basement that’s comfortable and pleasant (whether for storage or for living in), the floor matters a lot.
You should think carefully before choosing a floor type for your basement. It’s a large area and it will make a big difference to the room. Changing it later will also be expensive in most cases, so don’t rush into a decision. Choose something you like – this is key to making the room pleasant.
What is the best flooring for a basement? Many people like to install vinyl on their basement floors because it is not too costly, it looks modern, it’s easy to keep clean, and it comes in a variety of patterns and colors. You can make it look just like a swish wooden or stone floor, without the expense associated with these materials. It’s also durable and should last well.
Is Vinyl a Good Floor Option for Basements?
Vinyl is probably the best and most popular kind of flooring you can use in your basement. It’s relatively quick to install, it wears well, and you can buy almost any color, shade, and pattern. Its durability makes it excellent for a space like a basement, where you may be moving heavy items around.
Vinyl flooring is also pretty water-resistant, meaning it will fare better than some options even if your basement is a little damp. You shouldn’t deliberately subject it to damp conditions or get it wet, but it won’t be as problematic as – for example – using wooden flooring in a damp environment.
Vinyl sheets are particularly popular, because they are waterproof, so any spills will not go through the floor, and any dampness will not come up from below. Vinyl planks don’t offer this advantage, because of the small gaps between them. They are still water-resistant and can be used, but their seams make them less optimal in your basement.
Furthermore, vinyl is very cheap, especially when compared with other hard-wearing options like stone and tile. It can be bought at a low cost, and it lets you complete a large area, like a basement, without spending a fortune. A final benefit is that vinyl tends to be warm underfoot, which may be a great bonus if you have a cold basement.
The biggest drawback of vinyl is that it can be challenging to fit, especially if you are laying sheet vinyl. You may need professional installers to get a smooth, even finish. They will ensure the vinyl lies flat on the floor and does not peel up or bubble. This adds to the price of the floor, sometimes significantly.
Plank vinyl often can be installed by individuals, but because of its seams, it’s not quite such a good option for basement flooring. Overall, sheet vinyl is still likely to be one of the cheapest and best options.
What Other Flooring Types are Good for Basements?
Another type of floor you might consider for your basement is tiles, which are very water-resistant and won’t be damaged by flooding. Alternatively, think about engineered wooden flooring for a high level aesthetic, or even nicely finished concrete flooring. Each of these has different benefits and drawbacks.
Tiling is a popular choice for basements because tiles wear well and are easy to clean. They are also generally unharmed by damp conditions, and they should last for many years, even if they get a lot of use. You can move heavy items around on tiles without too much risk of scratching them.
Engineered wood is another option, because it also stands up fairly well to moisture. Unlike normal wood, which will be quickly damaged by dampness, engineered wood should be fine in your basement as long as it is reasonably dry. However, this won’t work in a basement that is extremely damp, and it does tend to be more expensive than other flooring options.
Engineered wood tends to be one of the most attractive choices, but it is also expensive, and it can be difficult to remove if it does get damaged.
Some people prefer to keep their basement floor as concrete, and this is an option, especially if you like the utilitarian look. However, you must make sure the floor is properly finished with a waterproof sealant. You may also want to consider staining or painting it to soften its harsh look.
Concrete is great in basements where dampness is an issue, but bear in mind that it will be very cold underfoot.
What Floor Types Aren’t Suitable for Basements?
There are no floor types that you absolutely cannot use in your basement, but you should do some thorough research before installing carpet or hardwood floors. Because basements often suffer from moisture problems, these floor types tend to be unsuitable.
Carpet is one of the warmest flooring options and it might be a great way to make your basement feel cozy, blocking out the cold coming from under the floor. However, the fibers of the carpet will absorb any dampness in the room and may start to mold. Soon, it will need to be stripped out and thrown away.
Hardwood floors will similarly suffer if there is any dampness in the room. Even sealed wood is not completely impervious to moisture, and it will gradually start to warp and buckle if you put it somewhere wet. Your basement might feel fairly dry to you, but you should get professional advice before installing wood there.
Wooden flooring is expensive, and your efforts may be wasted if the basement is too damp.
The best kind of flooring for a basement is often sheet vinyl, although plank vinyl can work well too. Tiles are also a good option, but involve more complex installation and will generally be more expensive. Sealing and painting the concrete will work well if you don’t use the room much and you’ve got a tight budget.