11 best flooring option & ideas for basements: pros & cons & waterproof

When you are remodeling the rooms in your house, choosing the perfect floor is easy, especially if you know what you want. When it comes to the basement floor, there are many other things to consider, such as the specific environment and high humidity.

When there are so many options available out there for you to choose from, you might get overwhelmed. You don’t know which one would be the most suitable for your basement

That’s why we will show you the best flooring options for your basement, including waterproofed ones. To keep things in balance, we will also show you the pros and cons of each. It’s the place where you’ll often wash your bras and keep your dryer. It still needs to be a nice place to go, even if it may be away from the rest of the house.

Best inexpensive option – Epoxy

epoxy floor

The cheapest flooring option you can find for your basement is epoxy. It is ideal as a temporary solution if you’re willing to accept both the good and bad things about it. Usually, epoxy is not used for aesthetic purposes but rather for practical ones.

Epoxy is applied by simply pouring several buckets over your basement’s subflooring. Allow 48 hours before you step on it, but also consider setting up a ventilation system since the smell might be an inconvenience. You won’t have to worry about that after the epoxy has set because the smell will dissipate. 

Pros:

  • Relatively cheap
  • Temporary solution if you can’t decide about a final option for your basement
  • Completely waterproof

Cons:

  • Hard to install, it’s recommended to get professional help for setting up epoxy.
  • Not a permanent solution. It gets worse after a couple of years.
  • Uncomfortable to walk on

Best on top of cement floors – Sheet Vinyl

sheet vinyl

The vinyl flooring is the most suitable one for cement floors. Because it is water-resistant, this material is ideal where humidity might be higher than usual. It can be installed as planks or sheet form, with no noticeable difference between them.

If tile vinyl is applied, then standing water might be a problem. Make sure always to keep the surface dry and eliminate water. If your basement has a cement floor, vinyl sheets will be the most suitable on top of them.

Pros:

  • Cheap, usually under $1 per square foot
  • It is warmer than ceramic or concrete
  • Keeps water away

Cons:

  • A temporary and cheap solution
  • Requires a very clean surface to install
  • Not easy to install by yourself

Best warm option – Carpet

carpet

If you will use your basement as a living room, carpet is the best option for maximum comfort. It is soft and requires very little maintenance, just like the floor inside your house. 

Suitable for basements converted into living spaces, carpet is ideal here. However, don’t use this material for basements that see a lot of moisture or those designed for utility. The carpet can still absorb moisture in the air, so it’s better to reduce humidity as much as possible to avoid mold growth. 

Pros:

  • Superior comfort and warmth, unlike any other type of basement flooring
  • Lots of available options depending on budgets and styles
  • Easy to install and replace

Cons:

  • Not suitable for all places
  • Doesn’t go well with moisture and humidity
  • Poor choice for workshop environments

Best waterproof option – Epoxy

More durable and easier to clean than anything else, epoxy is the best flooring option for waterproofing basements. It can be applied as easily as paint. However, it has a thick layer. 

Sand can be applied shortly after epoxy, which adds texture and color to the space. It can be a good choice for workshops, although it’s not ideal for converting basements into living rooms. Hazardous fumes will also be an inconvenience for the first couple of days, so prepare accordingly. 

Pros:

  • Long-lasting 
  • Highly durable
  • Water-resistant

Cons:

  • Cold to step on
  • Hard for your feet

Best utility option – Concrete

You should consider this material if you use the basement as a workshop and maximize its utility. Concrete is completely resistant to moisture and highly durable. Even so, concrete doesn’t have to be the plain old gray that comes to your mind. Nowadays, these floors are highly customizable.

Painted concrete is available in different colors and is also one of the cheapest options. On the opposite side, textured concrete can be more expensive but will offer a better overall aspect of your basement. 

Pros:

  • You don’t have to add multiple layers of concrete to your subflooring.
  • One of the cheapest options on the market
  • Highly customizable

Cons:

  • Lacks comfort and warmth
  • Hard on your feet
  • Inconvenient when installed for a room to live in.

Best luxury option – Luxury Vinyl Plank

luxury vinyl plank

This option can be used for any room inside your house, including for the one underneath it – your basement. It can cost as much as $6 per square foot, but this investment is worth it for those who have an eye for aesthetics. 

Synthetic and waterproof, the luxury vinyl plank floor can mimic stone, wood, and many more. This material is also highly durable and will last you for decades if installed and maintained properly. Very comfortable to walk over, luxury vinyl floors are also resistant to moisture and less prone to dents and scratches. 

It is ideal both for workshops or living basements, and there are multiple options suitable for any budget. This option is ideal for those who want to get something similar to pure wood without having to worry about water damage. 

Pros: 

  • Highly resistant to water
  • Lots of options for every budget
  • Different styles available

Cons:

  • Not eco-friendly, which might be a problem for environmentalists.
  • Expensive to install

Best wood-like option – Laminate

laminate

Laminate is very similar to hardwood, but it’s mainly synthetic and more stable than it. Laminate is safe to install and highly resistant to scratches and light damage. Laminate uses fiberboard as a base, making it more durable. 

Some aspects to appreciate about laminate is its incredible ability to simulate real hardwood while being cheaper at the same time. However, they are not eco-friendly and will be prone to water damage as water resistance is almost inexistent. 

This material is strong and durable. With proper installation and maintenance, it should last for decades. On the other hand, it’s much more expensive than other options presented in this article. Moisture will do a lot of damage to laminate, so it’s not recommended for workshop or utility basements. 

Pros:

  • Highly durable
  • Will perform well without maintenance
  • Great accuracy in imitating wood

Cons:

  • Expensive to install
  • Not waterproof

Best customizable option – Tile

tile floor

Tile options are ideal for your basement if you want something waterproof and durable. With lots of customization options, tile can look good where it’s put if you match it up with this place’s overall theme and style. 

Tiles are ideal for both practical spaces and entertainment areas. Tiles are available in various options, ranging in price from cheap to expensive. Ideal for any budget, tiles are usually made out of ceramic or porcelain as their main material. 

Ceramic ones are porous and waterproof, but they are more suitable for outdoor spaces. In your basement, ceramic tiles are the best if you will use the basement for practical purposes. 

Pros: 

  • Plenty of options to choose from
  • Affordable for any budget
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • Not comfortable
  • Cold on touch
  • Hard on feet

Best for workshops – Rubber

rubber mat

Although rubber matting is one of the most popular options for basement floors, they’re more practical and durable and won’t offer outstanding designs. The style options are rather limited. However, this material can be easily replaced and recycled whenever you change your mind about your floor.

No experience is needed to install a rubber floor, as only one operation is necessary: rolling it out. Soft and comfy, the rubber will also feel good on your feet. Because it’s so easy to install and replace, rubber can be used for both workshops and living spaces in your basement.

On the other side, this material is not durable and won’t last you a long time. Rubber is made to be replaceable and more like a temporary solution for your basement’s needs. Yearly replacement might be necessary, but it shouldn’t be a problem since it’s easy to remove and install.

Pros: 

  • Very easy to install
  • It can be switched easily
  • Eco-friendly since it’s recyclable
  • Fit for any type of basement

Cons:

  • Won’t last a long time
  • Lack of customization options
  • Rather basic in design

Best contemporary option – Marmoleum

This material is a new option out there. It’s a multi-layered and upgraded version of linoleum. As it is durable and water resistant, this material will last you a long time. Environmentalists will be pleased to find out that Marmoleum is eco-friendly. It’s because it is made from natural materials instead of artificial ones found in traditional linoleum. 

It feels similar to laminate on touch but can also accurately mimic different wood styles. As long as it’s installed properly, Marmoleum will be water resistant. You won’t have to stress out about moisture or humidity. Little maintenance is required, although it will surely boost the lifespan of your floor. 

Because it is so rare and difficult to find, Marmoleum can be quite expensive. You will have to trust the specifications and features of this material since there are no old Marmoleum floors that can be used for comparison. 

Pros:

  • Eco-friendly
  • Made out of natural materials
  • Feels comfortable on touch
  • Water-resistant

Cons:

  • Rare to find
  • Because of its rarity, Marmoleum might be expensive

Best eco-friendly option – Cork

This material might be the best if you’re looking for flooring options that don’t suffer from high humidity or water damage. Cork is highly durable and will expand while absorbing excess moisture.

Natural ingredients are used when manufacturing cork. That makes this material very eco-friendly and sustainable, which will benefit everyone. If you are sensitive to mold or have allergies, cork also features antimicrobial characteristics. It keeps your basement’s environment safe. 

Pros:

  • Eco-friendly
  • Highly durable
  • Water-resistant

Cons:

  • Loses water resistance if not installed properly

What floors are good for basements?

Consider the options presented above and pick the one most suitable for your needs. If your basement is like a workshop and you will use it for utility purposes, then a carpeted floor won’t be ideal for you. It’s because it can get stained easily and it’s not made for a working environment. 

Instead, you can install a rubber floors. This material is durable, easy to clean, and suitable for demanding and intensive workshops. If you want to set up an entertainment system or a gaming room in your basement, carpet or laminate will be more suitable for day-to-day activities. 

In the end, it’s up to you. You can pick the floor according to your needs. Since they come in various options, there’s plenty to choose from. 

What to look for?

Take note of these things to look out for when you’re considering a flooring option for your basement. Does the space feature a lot of moisture? In that case, you should look for water-resistant flooring options and be sure it won’t develop mold.

Durability is also important. What will you do in your basement? Consider stronger floor options like concrete or epoxy if hard work is conducted. Maybe you want to set up a gaming room or a bar. In that case, a carpeted floor is an ideal solution.  

Comfort might be either a critical factor or a useless one depending on your needs. If you want to create a living space out of your basement, then you should maximize comfort because you will spend a lot of time there. If you have a lot of tools and you will be conducting work with machinery and equipment, then comfort won’t be as important for you. 

Vinyl vs. Laminate

There are several differences between vinyl and laminate floorings. Vinyl ones will look more solid, but it is composed of layers. The superior layer will ensure high durability and minimize damage, while the one underneath it will offer definition and texture. At the bottom of these layers, soft foam is used as a base for your floor.

Laminate still uses the same layered composition, with a transparent one on the top which will protect the floor against minor damage. Usually, laminate has more options regarding style, as their main feature is their appearance. From stone to wood to every single color, laminate floors offer a larger variety of options to choose from. 

Ideas

Take a look at some of the ideas you can use for your basement.

Engineered wood can be used for entertainment or living spaces. There are many styling options you can choose from, and this material is durable and long-lasting. The price varies from $2 to $20 per square foot, so engineered wood can be a good choice for every budget. 

Tiles are also popular due to their durability and customizable styles. Natural patterns will please your eyes, and you can choose from plenty of models. Although tiles have high water resistance, be careful not to slip on them when they’re wet. They can get slippery with moisture. An anti-slip layer applied above the tiles will prevent unfortunate accidents. 

While carpets are more commonly found in your living room or bedroom, there’s the option to add carpets in your basement. This soft material is ideal if the space has low humidity and is not at risk of water damage. Usually, such flooring options are intended for basements with living spaces used for entertainment purposes. 

Your feet will feel better when you walk across this material. You won’t have to worry about slippery surfaces of any kind, as special pads installed with this flooring option can absorb the water and prevent unfortunate accidents. 

Basement subfloor options

Floating Plywood Subfloor

The unique characteristic of the floating plywood subfloor is that it’s not attached to the inferior layer. The entire weight of the floor and the friction with the subfloor are enough to keep it in place. 

Rigid Foam Insulation Subfloor

It is an excellent option because it provides a thermal gap between the floor and subfloor. The materials necessary for the rigid foam insulation can be found at almost every home improvement store, making it easily accessible.

Sleeper System Subfloor

If your basement height can afford the space, a sleeper system subfloor can be applied. The main advantage of this subfloor is that it keeps the costs very low. Because of the increased height, this will elevate your floor by almost 3 and a half inches. You need to consider this extra height and ensure it won’t bother your basement plans. 

Verdict: what flooring is best for a basement

There is a specific basement floor option available for every need. Whether you want high durability and long-lasting materials or comfortable and warm ones, there’s an option perfectly suitable for your needs. 

If your basement has high humidity, consider getting a water-resistant material in your flooring option. Whether for utility or comfort, your basement starts with what you’re walking on. It’s best to decide about this feature first. 

FAQ

What is the cheapest way to do a basement floor?

Epoxy is the cheapest option you can go with if you want to add some additional protection. Some people choose to leave the concrete untreated, but it’s not very charming. The smallest upgrade you can otherwise do is using epoxy.


Should I put a subfloor in my basement?

Subfloors are crucial when you’re trying to turn the basement into a welcoming place. Besides, they’re needed if it’s not a dry basement.

Is painting a basement floor a good idea?

It depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to revitalize the space, paint can work. However, other options may be better if you plan on walking around barefoot.