12 Basement Flooring Options - Best to Worst
Some people get the chills down their spine at the sole mention of the word "basement", because they associate basements with cold, dark, and humid places. To add to that, we’ve seen too many movies where the basement is usually the place where something scary happens. However, many people have managed to improve basements’ reputation by turning them into a stylish and practical place.
While basements can be turned into an extra room where you can live, hold band practices, use it as a storage room, etc., you can also go one level up and even install a swimming pool in your basement. How cool is that? Now, before you start thinking about dozens of possible basement designing ideas, you need to think about the different flooring options for basements.
In order to better understand why choosing the right flooring option for a basement is so important, we need to define the difference between above grade and below grade flooring.
The term “above grade” refers to all parts of the house that are situated above ground. On the other hand, everything that is below the ground level falls into the “below grade” category, and this includes basements.
Being below ground, basements are more prone to water and often exposed to high levels of humidity, all of which directly affects the type of flooring that should be used in these areas.
So what would be the best flooring options for your basement? Below we will review the various options, including their pros and cons and price levels, starting with the safest choices, and proceeding to some of the less safe possibilities.
Porcelain tiles are a type of ceramic and they have gained in popularity over the years when it comes to different flooring options. Porcelain is known for being very good for places with water and a rather high degree of moisture as it has a tendency to absorb it.
So far it sounds like a good idea for basement flooring. Porcelain is dense, very easy to clean, and also environmentally-friendly. With that said, let’s take a look at porcelain tile drawbacks. Namely, porcelain tiles can be broken easily if a heavy object is dropped on them, it’s more expensive than other ceramic materials, and a professional is required when it comes to installing porcelain tile flooring.
In homes where there’s a lot of humidity, and we’re aiming at basements, very often will you find ceramic tile flooring. This type of flooring is renowned for being eco-friendly. Ceramic tiles are very durable although porcelain tiles are better at withstanding heavy usage. When covered with a protective layer, ceramic tiles are extremely resistant to water. Moreover, ceramic tile floors are easy to clean, and their price is more than reasonable.
If we compare porcelain and ceramic tiles as two really good basement flooring options, porcelain is denser than ceramic, thus more durable. However, ceramic tiles are better at absorbing water, and come at a better price.
Now, there are some disadvantages that come with ceramic tile flooring for basements. Walking on ceramic tile floors won’t be what you would call a walk on the clouds, but rather the opposite. This type of flooring is not likely to be very comfortable under your feet, and during the winter it also gets very cold, unless radiant heating would be installed below it. Ceramic tiles are not easy to repair, and they require a professional for proper installation too.
With all the disadvantages listed above, you might be thinking: Why are ceramic tiles still a great flooring option for basements? Well, if you decide to use ceramic tiles in a humid place such as basement, ceramic tiles will do a perfect job at keeping water and humidity away, and that is one of the most important factors to consider for basement floors.
Vinyl Flooring and Luxury Vinyl Tile
In general, Vinyl flooring is very comfortable underfoot, easy to install, inexpensive, and great at absorbing water and humidity.
When it comes to aesthetics, Luxury Vinyl is more pleasing, as it comes with a wood or stone-resembling look, and can add style to any room. However, since it isn't seamless as Vinyl sheets, it is somewhat more prone to water damage compared to Vinyl sheet, and it isn't the most eco-friendly option, as it is quite hard to recycle. Nevertheless, generally speaking, Luxury vinyl can be very durable and last for several decades.
Natural Stone Flooring
Aside from looking amazing, slate flooring is considered to be a great flooring option, not just for basements, but for other rooms in the house too. Slate is extremely durable and quite resistant when it comes to scratches and breaks. It retains heat, and its resistance to humidity is remarkable.
On the other hand, slate flooring is somewhat expensive, and if you decide to go for this type of flooring in your basement, it won't be the kind of project you should do on your own.
Marble is said to be one of the most beautiful materials when it comes to different flooring options. If you decide to turn your basement into a bar or a place where you’ll enjoy a glass of wine with your friends, we can already tell you’ll have a marbleous time. Additionally, marble tile comes in a variety of different colors, and it has unique patterns.
However, there are some downsides to having marble flooring in your basement. Namely, marble is prone to cracks and scratches, not water-resistant, and comes at a steep price when you take into account its durability which is far from outstanding. With this type of flooring you have to decide whether you want beautiful or practical, and unfortunately, you can’t have both.
Granite flooring promises a lot when it comes to great flooring options. Not only is granite durable, but it is also highly resistant to water, as well as scratches and cracks. This type of flooring comes in a wide variety of colors, and looks spectacular in any room.
When it comes to certain drawbacks that come with granite flooring for basements, the following stand out: granite surfaces can be really demanding for cleaning, and as with other types of stone flooring, granite cannot be installed without a professional.
Travertine is widely used for floors, walls, and kitchen countertops, mainly thanks to its great durability, its ability to adapt to all climate conditions easily, and as well because of its beauty. Travertine flooring will surely add style to any home, whether it’s installed in a living room, kitchen or basement. Travertine is also astonishingly resistant to scratches and breaks, and very easy to replace in case it is damaged in any way.
The flaws of installing this type of flooring in a basement include a rather steep price for this type of flooring, and the fact that travertine floors can be very demanding when it comes to cleaning them. Some consider travertine to be very slippery, and if not sealed properly, travertine floors chip easily.
If you thought laminate is a one-layer flooring option, you were wrong. This wood-resembling material contains several layers, including a fiberboard layer, a moisture-resistant layer, and on top of it all it has a protective coating. So, could laminate flooring be the best option for your basement? This material is aesthetically pleasing, durable, and easy to install, so what could you possibly want more for your basement flooring?
Installing laminate floors in a basement entails various obstacles. Namely, conventional laminate is not water-resistant, and shouldn’t be exposed to too much water or humidity either. Also, laminate flooring requires subfloor installation, and while conventional laminate is reasonably priced, waterproof laminate comes at a higher price. Therefore, you might want to think twice before installing laminate flooring in your basement.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered hardwood flooring is not as resistant to moisture as we’d want it to be. Its resistance to water is greater than solid hardwood, but still not resistant enough. Further on, engineered hardwood flooring is a combination of a plywood base and several thin layers of hardwood. Due to these thin layers, engineered hardwood floors can’t be sanded multiple times (only once or twice), and they don’t last long compared to solid hardwood floors.
On the plus side, if you don’t have problems with humidity in your basement, engineered hardwood floors will do more than a good job there. They come at a somewhat reasonable price; they will add value to your property, and if you’re a fan of oak, maple, or hickory, engineered hardwood will be one of the better flooring options for your basement.
Solid Hardwood Flooring
When it comes to solid hardwood flooring for your basement, we’ll start with this type of flooring’s downsides. First of all, this type of flooring is pricy when compared to other flooring options, and since it’s made out of wood, its resistance to humidity is at a low level. Secondly, solid hardwood flooring requires high maintenance, which then reflects on its durability. The greater care you take of it, the longer it’ll last. So, if you wanted to turn your basement into a low-maintenance room where you’ll come to relax once in a while, solid hardwood flooring might not be your best option.
However, it wouldn’t be fair to skip the good things that come with this type of flooring. Solid hardwood floors look really good, and feel amazing under your feet. If these are the most important things for you when it comes to basement flooring, the least you can do is consider installing solid hardwood floors in your basement, if you take the required precautions that are associated with possible water damge.
As far as cork flooring goes, it has many upsides that might make you choose this material for your basement over other flooring materials. Namely, cork flooring is extremely durable, easy to maintain, has unique patterns, and it is very eco-friendly. Since cork flooring can be installed in basements that don’t have a really high level of humidity, we might not have anything to add to our cons list except for the fact that this type of flooring can be a bit tricky to install if it doesn’t come with a click-lock installation.
However, if your basement has a high level of humidity, then cork flooring stops being one of the best flooring solution, and becomes one of the last options to consider for your basement floor.
Similarly to cork floors, bamboo flooring is another green flooring option for your basement. Bamboo floors have a high level of durability; they’re eco-friendly, their price is very reasonable, and they look amazing.
The downsides? Well, bamboo has very little resistance to humidity and water, to the extent that it might be considered a deal breaker when deciding whether to choose this type of flooring or not.
To sum up, Ceramic flooring proves to be a good choice for humid basements and it is also easy to clean and eco-friendly. Stone flooring, much like ceramic tile flooring, is resistant to water (except for marble), and it is also quite durable, but more prone to scratches and somewhat expensive. Lastly, wood flooring looks really beautiful and it is eco-friendly, but unfortunately, its resistance to water and humidity is at a low level, and therefore, you should think twice before going with wood.
Remember, it is always best to consult with a professional installer before making your basement flooring decision.