If you live in the northern hemisphere you’re very likely in hibernation mode these days. In Canada we’re settling into our homes to pass the time for the next few months of cold weather. We use more of our house in winter months than we do in summer and the basement is one of those sometimes-neglected space that sees a resurgence of activity at this time of year. There are few materials required to make it cozy, but basement flooring is a super important factor in getting the space right.
Before you decide there are a few questions you should ask yourself:
1/ What is the main purpose of the basement for my family?
Do you have little kids who will spend a lot of time on the floor? If so, you’ll have different considerations than those that are kid free.
2/ What is my budget?
Have you updated the flooring in your home in the last 10 years? If not, you’ll be surprised to find the immense variety of options as well as a price points.
3/ Are you DIY’ing or hiring a contractor?
Some flooring is made for homeowners who are looking for an easy-to-install option. Others like concrete are best left to professionals.
4/ How long will I live in this house?
If you’re selling your house in the near future what can your home bear in terms of money spent on a basement? If you live in a high-income neighbourhood where the best of everything is required, don’t skimp. Alternatively, if a basement is of little value in resale think about that before you invest in expensive flooring.
MY 6 FAVOURITE OPTIONS FOR FLOORING FOR YOUR BASEMENT
1/ LUXURY VINYL
This is my #1 go-to product for basement flooring. As I mentioned earlier, there are so many new products that have hit the marketplace in the last 10 years and this is the best of all of them. And luxury vinyl looks remarkably similar to the wood or stone that it’s trying to replicate. It’s thicker than conventional vinyl tile so it has better sound absorption and it’s warmer under foot. It’s a pricier option but worth the money in my opinion.
I have personal experience with this manufacturer. It’s the flooring I selected for our family cottage and I’m so happy with it!! There are new items being added to their lineup all the time and this is my current favourite. I love the herringbone pattern and in terms of $ investment, this classic style will never, ever be outdated so it’s a great place to spend your money.
2/ SHEET VINYL
One of the reasons that this product has remained so enduring as a favourite basement flooring option is that there are so few seams. And that means that you have less likelihood of moisture seeping into your space. It’s also one of the most inexpensive options. You’ll need to pay for the installation as it’s not a DIY project, unless you’re a very confident renovator.
If your basement flooring is going to take a beating from kids, pets or heavy traffic, this might not be the best option for you. It’s difficult to replace since it’s a sheet and not a plank.
3/ ENGINEERED HARDWOOD
A long-time favourite product for main floors, bedrooms, etc but it can also look beautiful as your basement flooring. It’s a gorgeous replication of real hardwood and often it’s hard to tell engineered from solid wood. If your basement is prone to moisture, skip this option. Engineered hardwood is comprised of several layers of plywood with a wood veneer on the top. None of that will fare well if you have moisture issues.
There is a wide spectrum of quality so be careful. There are great products and as with everything, there are sub-standard products that won’t live up to your expectations. If you’re using engineered wood be prepared to bypass the cheapest options. They are often inferior in both the veneer and the plywood. Because of this, they will wear quickly, chip and peel and can be damaged by sunlight. Use a respected brand with a good warranty and this can be a winner in your basement.
4/ STAMPED CONCRETE
This is a beautiful, modern look for any space in your home IF you have heated floors. If you were to put this in your basement without underfloor heating, you would likely never use your basement throughout the winter months. Concrete is cold!
It’s one of the best options for high traffic areas and those homes with lots of kids and pets because it’s extremely durable. If you’re thinking about a one and done solution for your basement flooring, hello concrete.
I picked stamped concrete in my own home when we built and I love it. The only downside is that it’s not easy to clean but it stands up well for a busy family.
Find out exactly what it costs to complete a home renovation. Download the Budget Guide.
There are a couple of options for carpeting your basement floors. You can go the more traditional route of wall-to-wall carpeting or you can select one of the new kids in town – the carpet squares. Either way, this is a great option if you have little kids and want to keep them warm and safe playing on the floor. The obvious downside to carpeting (particularly wall-to-wall) is that if you were to experience any water in your basement (think flooding or burst pipes) you would need to replace it all. Depending on the amount of water and subsequent damage, you may be required to replace a significant portion of your carpet squares so that’s not a fail proof system either, really.
If you don’t have moisture issues this can be a beautiful and comfortable option. It’s one of the most expensive options though and it’s definitely not a DIY project (carpet squares may be something you could tackle).
At the risk of sounding like a broken record I’ll say again that if your basement is susceptible to water, give this one a pass. The other downside to laminate is that it can be noisy. Although improvements have been made and it’s come a long way from its origin story, it’s still made from plastic and there will always be sound issues. If your kids are playing with noisy toys or you like to wear your shoes indoors this could become an annoyance.
On the plus side, laminate is warm underfoot, it’s well priced and it’s a DIY’ers dream come true. If you are renovating on a budget this is definitely a great option.
There you have it, my favourite basement flooring. It’s a big topic but do your research and will end up with a beautiful space. Once the flooring is installed you’re almost ready to settle in. Make sure you spend the time to add the extra details like you would in any other space in your home. Often, people think the basement can be finished with less attention to detail. If you want to use it regularly, spend the same time and attention in your decorating.
Let me know what you like for your basement. If you’ve used a product I haven’t added to the list, let me know. I always love to hear from my readers and learn more about anything in the design world that’s new or has not yet caught my eye.