Basement Flooring Ideas

by Rachel Laurendeau on September 7, 2012

If your home improvement project involves basement finishing you will want to include flooring that is durable, moisture-proof and easy to install.

First things first: start with a dry basement
If you have any reason to suspect water seepage or foundation damage, call in a professional for an estimate on basement waterproofing. There is no point in investing the time and money required on a complete basement remodeling or finishing only to have water or mold cause you headaches down the road.

Painted concrete
For non-living spaces such as utility rooms and laundry rooms where you want to finish the floor to keep the concrete dust down and have an easy to clean and maintain surface, simply apply concrete paint onto clean, dry concrete. Traditional concrete paint can be quite smelly (high in VOCs) so open the windows and turn on the fans while you are painting and letting it dry. Alternatively, you can purchase low-VOC or no-VOC stain, paint or epoxy that is specifically for concrete. Check at the paint store to see whether or not the brand you buy requires a coat of primer underneath to help it better adhere to the concrete or a sealant on top to help protect it.

Carpet tiles can be applied directly to clean, dry concrete and don’t require a pad or underlayment. Plus, they are easy to install for the do-it-yourself home handyman and are an easy way to warm up a space and add color. Carpet tiles are very durable and one bonus is that you can easily swap out a stained or damaged tile and replace it at a fraction of the cost of replacing regular carpet.

Laminate flooring is a good alternative to wood flooring for basement applications. Good quality laminates resist moisture and stains and are very resilient and easy to clean. Installation is an easy DIY project, particularly with the click-type planks.

Engineered wood floors, not to be confused with laminates, engineered wood involves layers of wood laminated together to form the planks. Whereas hardwood is not recommended for basements, engineered wood can be used below-grade because it is not susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity therefore it shrinks and expands less than hardwood.

Slate tiles offer an elegant, durable and easy to clean option but they can be quite cool to walk on. Consider laying an electric in-floor radiant heat system between the concrete subfloor and the tiles to make the slate more welcoming to your toes.

Vinyl flooring is durable, easy to clean, inexpensive and comes in sheets or tiles. The cushion-backed type adds extra comfort and can be glued directly to the concrete. A word of warming regarding vinyl: first, if your concrete subfloor has any defects or imperfections, they will eventually show through the vinyl. Secondly, if using peel-and-stick tiles, test one out to make sure it will adhere to the concrete subfloor. Thirdly, and most importantly, vinyl tends to off-gas for quite a while and is therefore not the healthiest option for your family.

Area rugs can afford the same sense of coziness as wall-to-wall carpeting while adding color and texture to any room.

Green Tip: My favorite eco-friendly and extremely tough flooring option for the basement is linoleum such as Marmoleum from Forbo. It has anti-bacterial and anti-static properties, not to mention does not off-gas harmful chemicals into your home.

Resource: Better Homes and Gardens

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