Is your basement looking funky these days? Many homeowners dream of kicking back in a newly finished basement to watch the game on a flatscreen or converting the unused space into the workshop for their side-hustle, but the project often ends there as cracked, uneven floors and moisture buildup are unsuitable conditions to install flooring. And what does “below grade” mean, anyway?
Finding the best flooring for your basement refinishing project can be intimidating, but there are several affordable DIY options available, and those moisture issues might not be as severe as you thought. With the right gameplan and modern flooring products, your basement theater, workshop, or minibar could be just around the corner.
Things go wrong in basements. They flood. The hot water heater explodes. It makes a mess. Sometimes animals get inside and then they make a mess. Being underground and the central hub for your home’s plumbing, gas, and HVAC systems, it’s extremely important that your basement is sealed from the elements to prevent damage to these vital components or whichever flooring you choose to install. Also, your concrete pad needs to be level, smooth, and free of cracks in order to prevent future damage to the floor.
Without a dry basement and a level floor you’re inviting mold, mildew, warping, and rust to ruin the flooring laid on top. A warped concrete floor is fixable using self-leveling cement and cracks can be patched with a concrete sealant. For most basements with humidity issues, a dehumidifier will do the trick. If there are minor problems with standing water, a sump pump will be necessary. Addressing these problems before installing a basement floor will prevent expensive repairs and possibly homeowner insurance claims down the line.
What’s the Use?
Before you buy anything, think about what you want to do in the basement.
Underground playrooms, bedrooms, home theaters, etc. benefit from softer materials that feel warm underfoot, like carpet or cork. A basement woodworking shop, metalsmith, or other maker-types will need an industrial flooring material that’s sturdy and easily maintained, such as painted concrete, LVP, or tile.
Whichever material you select, be sure that it’s water-resistant and suitable for below grade installation. “Below grade” refers to being below street level, not the quality of the material. Below grade flooring products are often higher water-resistance than their above grade counterparts and may have reduced thickness to avoid violating ceiling-height restrictions in the building code.
Best Basement Flooring Materials
1. Concrete – In many homes, refreshing the concrete slab is all it takes for a dramatic basement makeover. Once leveled and filled, the concrete can be refinished with paint and epoxy for a durable waterproof finish. For style points, try stenciled patterns in paint or an area rug in a coordinated color.
2. LVP – If the upper levels of your home have hardwood and you’d like to keep the look going downstairs, LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) is an engineered flooring material that can mimic the appearance of hardwood, tile, or stone, plus it’s waterproof so you don’t have to worry about expensive hardwood getting cracked, warped, or split from moisture.
3. Cork – Cork is perfect for turning your basement into a common area like a playroom or home theater because it combines softness with water resistance and is easily replaced should it become damaged.
4. Synthetic Carpet – Most homeowners prefer to avoid below grade carpet these days, but there are a variety of below grade synthetic carpets available that resist moisture and mildew, making them appropriate for basement installation.
Are you starting a basement refinishing project? Give us a call at (888) SHOP-123 or stop into any of our four Northeast Ohio locations to check out the latest and greatest below grade flooring materials!