What Is The Best Flooring For A Basement?

basement floor

When it comes to flooring for a basement, there are many options available! The type of flooring you choose for your basement will depend on the purpose of the space and your budget. Basements can be used as living spaces, storage areas, or even workshops; all these uses require different types of flooring materials. Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to weigh them carefully when making an informed decision about floors. So, let’s find out what flooring is best for a basement!

Suppose you’re considering finishing your basement or remodeling (and updating) an old basement that’s already finished. In that case, your flooring choice will significantly impact the final product’s look and feel. A finished basement can expand your home’s usable space and even increase the value of your home.

More often than not, basements are unfinished dark, damp spaces that people utilize for storage. However, it doesn’t take much to transform a dim, creepy basement into a cozy and inviting space where you can enjoy spending your time!

And one of the most impactful things you can do to provide long-term enjoyment from a finished basement is to pick the right flooring.


Factors to consider when choosing basement flooring

Most unfinished basements have flooring that’s solid poured concrete. It’s a durable and economical foundation for remodeling the space into a beautiful place where you enjoy hanging out.

As you begin to think about basement finishing plans, remember that the conditions in a basement are different than in the main living area. Keep these considerations in mind as you think about the type of flooring you want in your basement.


How do you (want to) use your basement

How do you currently use your basement space? Is it out-of-sight storage? A workshop or laundry area? Or a place to send the kids to play with their friends?

Now think about how you want to use your basement after it’s finished. Do you want to make it a workout space, a game area, or create a place for cozy family hangouts?

Once you know how you plan to utilize the downstairs area, you can use that information to help pick the best flooring for the basement! After all, rubber tiles may be perfect for a workout area, but you probably wouldn’t use them to create a beautiful and cozy entertainment space.

While we’re here, it might be worth mentioning that basements often get broken into, so if you’re using your basement as a storage area, you might want to consider installing a motion-detection camera to keep an eye on what’s happening down there. The Home Security SuperStore is an excellent place to look for security options if you want your basement secure. The point is that design decisions should be made with the end in mind. It is not only about flooring; it is all about the end result.


The moisture level

Since basements are typically at or below ground level, they tend to be cooler and damper than the rest of the house. Some flooring options, such as hardwood floors, aren’t a good fit for these areas because the moisture will damage them.

However, there are many great options for flooring that can tolerate the constant dampness as well as handle some water if you have an unexpected leak.


The condition of your basement concrete

When a house is built, it will often settle over time which can cause cracks to form in your concrete flooring and foundation. Most of the time, they are minor and don’t require any special attention, but if you have large cracks or uneven flooring, you’ll need to repair those before adding new flooring on top of the cement.

Also, inspect for areas where water may enter the basement during storms or if you have water leaks. It’s always best to repair these types of things, if you can, before finishing your basement.


Options for adding a basement subfloor

One way to make a basement feel less chilly and drafty is to install a subfloor that provides an extra layer of insulation between the cold cement and your body.

Some basement flooring options work best when installed directly onto the poured concrete foundation (ex: paint, tile, or rubber flooring), but you will end up with a constantly cold floor. If you live in a hot climate or plan to use the space as a workout room or workshop, that might be precisely what you want!

On the other hand, if you want to use the space as a family hangout area or kid’s playroom, installing a subfloor between the concrete and your finished basement flooring can make a world of difference in your comfort and enjoyment.

If you choose to add a subfloor, make sure that you use one that’s mold resistant and can withstand dampness.


Best flooring for basements

So, what flooring is best for a basement? Now that you know the factors that are part of picking the ideal basement flooring for your home, here are the options to choose from.

NOTE: Price estimates are included here for reference only. Please be aware that prices are accurate at the time of publishing but can change without notice and may differ from what’s listed on this site. Always do your research to find the most current and up-to-date information.


1. Painted Cement

The easiest and cheapest thing to do is simply paint the concrete floor. It won’t magically transform your basement into a comfortable and inviting space. But it’s water-resistant and low-maintenance, making it a great choice if you plan to use your basement for laundry, a workshop, or any other practical purpose.

You would not want to use painted concrete floors for rooms where you plan to entertain guests or spend a lot of time because it will feel cold and won’t look especially nice.

  • Cost: The cost of the paint (which will depend on how large your basement is) and potentially the cost of the contractor’s labor unless you paint the floor yourself.
  • Pros: Cheapest option, easy to do yourself and save money, resists water damage, and easy to maintain.
  • Cons: It’s cold (especially in cold weather) and not very visually appealing.


2. Rubber Flooring

Here’s another option that’s more utilitarian than stylish. Rubber flooring can come in different forms, including interlocking tiles, rubber mats, and rubber sheets. And although it’s not the most elegant or beautiful basement flooring option, you can find it in various designs and textures.

Rubber flooring is affordable and perfect for high-traffic areas because it’s incredibly durable. Plus, rubber flooring can protect your concrete floor from impact damage if you use the space as a workshop or home gym.

Installing rubber flooring doesn’t require any special skills, equipment, or expertise, so it’s another great DIY option (and expense saver) if it’s the best flooring choice for your basement.

  • Cost: Rubber sheets cost an average of $1 – $5 per square foot, while tiles are slightly more expensive and cost an average of $3 and $7 per square foot.
  • Pros: Affordable, easy to install, and provides great impact protection.
  • Cons: They aren’t the most attractive and can have a strong odor.


3. Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is another great basement flooring option. It’s beautiful, durable, waterproof, and easy to maintain. Plus, you can install it directly on top of the cement floor. Ceramic tiles are a wise choice if you tend to have flooding problems in your basement.

Installing ceramic tile is more expensive than other types of flooring because the tiles themselves are more expensive, and the installation process requires expertise, so you likely have to hire someone to do it for you.

Ceramic tiles come in a huge variety of color, design, and texture options. You can find anything from standard tiles in various sizes to patterned tiles and even faux wood tiles in nearly any color you want! When it comes to design, there are endless possibilities to give your basement exactly the look you desire.

Tiles will look incredible, but they’ll still be hard and cold. If you live in a hot climate, that might be a welcome thing, but if you live where winters are cold, you may want to add rugs and wear shoes or slippers to make it more comfortable. Another option would be installing radiant heat between your ceramic tiles and your concrete slab to add warmth.

NOTE: Your cement floors must be level and in good condition before laying tile over them. Any cracks or uneven areas must be repaired before you can install the tile.

  • Cost: The prices for ceramic tile ranges as much as the design possibilities. You can find them costing anywhere between $1 and $25 per square foot, depending on what you want.
  • Pros: Waterproof, low-maintenance, and can install directly on a concrete floor.
  • Cons: Prone to cracking and chipping (not impact resistant), expensive, and cold.


4. Carpet

The cushioning that the carpet provides is a great way to add comfort and coziness to a basement! And it can be an affordable option. However, it only works well in a basement if you take some steps to prevent mold and mildew.

Consider installing a moisture or vapor barrier underneath the carpet to reduce the dampness in your basement and protect the carpet. In addition, synthetic carpets don’t hold as much moisture as natural-fiber carpets, so they’re a better choice for basement flooring.

One way to do it is to install carpet tiles. They aren’t as popular as wall-to-wall carpeting (and don’t look as good), but it is easier to replace a few if you have a leak than to replace full wall-to-wall carpeting.

However, if you have a very damp basement or one that’s prone to leaks, stay away from the carpet.

  • Cost: Carpeting costs an average of $3 to $6 per square foot installed.
  • Pros: Affordable, soft, warm, and inviting.
  • Cons: Not a good choice for moist basements, and any basement carpeting requires adding a moisture barrier between the concrete and the carpet.


5. Cork flooring

Cork is an excellent choice if you want something eco-friendly and water-resistant. It’s soft and warm, so it’s a comfortable option that works well in basements without requiring shoes or rugs.

The main detractor to cork flooring in basements is that it’s a soft material that will scratch and get banged up over time. And at some point, the surface will need to be refinished (similar to hardwood flooring).

But with some care and maintenance, it can easily last much longer than carpet (as long as 40 years!).

  • Cost: Cork flooring costs an average of $5 to $10 per square foot.
  • Pros: Beautiful, eco-friendly, water resistant, and comfortable.
  • Cons: Soft and easy to damage, not as cheap as other options.


6. Engineered Wood

Solid hardwood flooring does not work for basements because the moisture will cause the wood to warp and rot.

However, if you want the look and feel of hardwood flooring in your basement, you can use some types of engineered wood flooring! Each interlocking plank has a thin layer of natural wood (in different species) bonded on top of a composite board.

Although you can buy some engineered wood flooring that can go directly on top of a concrete floor, it will last longer and feel better if you install a subfloor (and maybe even a moisture barrier) first.

  • Cost: Engineered hardwood flooring costs an average of $4 to $7 per square foot for materials which go up to $6 to $20 per square foot with installation.
  • Pros: Beautiful, comfortable, and can match the wood floors in the rest of the house.
  • Cons: Will get damaged with high impact and need to take anti-moisture measures to make it look great and last a long time.


7. Laminate Flooring

In the main part of the house, laminate flooring is a low-cost, low-maintenance go-to because it can mimic wood, slate, stone, or tile floors for a fraction of the price.

However, it does have one big downside: it doesn’t do well around moisture. If you want to use laminate flooring in your basement, you’ll need to install an underlayment moisture barrier as well as a subfloor underneath your laminate flooring. On the positive side, these protective measures will also increase the comfort of your new flooring.

  • Cost: Although laminate flooring is very affordable ($1–$4 per square foot), installation will take the average price up to $5–$12 per square foot).
  • Pros: Beautiful homey appearance with many design options, affordable.
  • Cons: You must install additional materials to protect your flooring from moisture.


8. Vinyl Flooring

When most people think of vinyl flooring, they think of vinyl sheets similar to laminate. However, vinyl flooring can also come in tiles and planks to mimic the look of ceramic tiles, stone flooring, hardwood, and more. Unlike sheet vinyl, these tiles and planks create a floating floor that’s not attached to your subfloor, making it more comfortable and attractive.

Moreover, this vinyl flooring has some happy perks, including durability, mold resistance, easy cleaning, and waterproofing. In other words, it’s one of the best flooring options for a basement when you consider all the factors (cost, durability, appearance, comfort, and functionality).

  • Cost: Luxury vinyl flooring (planks and tiles) costs an average of $2 to $7 per square foot.
  • Pros: Beautiful, eco-friendly, water resistant, and comfortable.
  • Cons: Soft and easy to damage, not as cheap as other options.


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Written by Laurie Graves

Laurie is a 50-something wife and boy mom, who loves to share easy recipes, DIY home ideas, and food hacks. She truly believes that with a little inspiration, anyone can make their home and meals feel special.