What to Know about Basement Flooring Options - Concrete Epoxy 101
What to Know about Basement Flooring Options

What to Know about Basement Flooring Options

There are many options for basement flooring
There are many options for basement flooring

Some of the usual “rules” for flooring do not apply to basement floors. Basement flooring can get damp and harbour mould. There is often water vapour present in this below-ground room, even when the weather is dry. Water can also get into the basement when heavy rains or snowmelt seep through cracks, or sump pumps back up and overflow. A washing machine can experience problems; or pipes could freeze and burst in cold months. The last thing you want is a wet basement.

Because of these potential issues, carpet and hardwood are not good options for downstairs areas, and certain flooring surfaces can encounter problems. Polished concrete has a stylish look and is easy to clean. It’s also incredibly durable if you have young children (or teens) using the space as a play room or rec room, or if you use it to host parties.

Here are some of the pitfalls of popular basement flooring options:

Vinyl might peel

Sheet Vinyl May Not Last

Although vinyl flooring can be resilient, it has several seams that allow water seepage when a spill or other liquid is left standing. If you have a basement flood and cannot remove the water quickly enough, you’ll need the surface replaced.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Needs very clean surface for adhesion
  • Considered a “cheap fix”

When Ceramic or Porcelain Tile Doesn’t Cut It

Tile can make your room “echoey” and isn’t very fun if you like to watch TV in the basement. It can also be slippery.

Pros:

  • Won’t rot
  • When it floods, it dries out relatively well

Cons:

  • Poor sound absorption qualities
  • Concrete must be evened out before laying tile (why not polish it and be done?)

Engineered wood flooring has vulnerability
Engineered wood flooring has vulnerability

Wood Flooring Isn’t Recommended

Wood does not stand up well to prolonged moisture exposure, thus, solid hardwood can be one of the worst basement flooring options. Engineered wood flooring has a cross-hatched plywood base below the real wood veneer, providing a little extra protection, but water damage is still a very real threat to the surface.

Pros:

  • Good sound absorption
  • Looks nice

Cons:

  • Expensive to purchase and install
  • Staples or nails to the subfloor are difficult to remove when water damage occurs
  • Vulnerable to moisture

“Luxury” Vinyl Plank Isn’t Great for Resale Value

Conventional vinyl is is attached to the subfloor with an adhesive. Luxury vinyl is joined piece-to-piece using a floating floor method. However, even with the “luxury” branding, vinyl is regarded by many homebuyers as a cheap option, lowering the resale value of your property.

Pros:

  • Certain styles look like stone or wood
  • Warmer than tile

Cons:

  • Vinyl tile is considered an inferior material
  • May leak moisture to the subfloor in the event of flooding

Concrete flooring makes for a sleek, contemporary look
Concrete flooring makes for a sleek, contemporary look

Concrete Flooring Is Durable and Affordable

Concrete flooring has been embraced by many homeowners. The floor surface can be polished and smoothed. It can be stained or painted to give it a different appearance. Also, epoxy surfaces allow for some creative additions (like stones, shells, or other items) below the smooth surface.

Pros:

Cons:

  • You may want to add area rugs for warmth, sound absorption

Wet carpet is nobody’s friend
Wet carpet is nobody’s friend

Wall-to-wall Carpeting Harbours Moisture

Carpeting dries slowly and can develop mould and mildew. If you have any concerns about leaking in the basement, a huge section of the carpet will need replacing. Once the padding underneath gets wet, air quality can be severely diminished.

Pros:

  • Absorbs sound
  • Soft surface

Cons:

  • Industrial drying equipment needed for drying before mould develops
  • Can be quite costly

Laminate Flooring Allows Water Seepage

It may seem waterproof, but laminate susceptible to moisture problems underneath. Once the laminate’s base material comes into prolonged contact with water, it will permanently swell and no amount of drying will return it to the previous size.

Pros:

  • Decent sound absorption

Cons:

  • Hollow feeling underfoot
  • Highly susceptible to water damage
  • Can build up static electricity
  • Subfloor is highly recommended

Rubber flooring isn’t really recommended for living spaces
Rubber flooring isn’t really recommended for living spaces

Rubber Flooring Isn’t Impermeable

Rubber flooring is commonly associated with pools, garages, gyms, and martial arts studios. Some parents think it can be installed to reduce the possibility of bumps and bruises. A smarter choice is a polished concrete base with kid-friendly, removable rubber tiles on top. (That way, when the kids grow you can upgrade into a rec room, rather than walking on a squishy surface.)

Pros:

  • Soft surface
  • Surface is moisture-resistant

Cons:

  • Not appropriate for living spaces
  • Not completely waterproof

Cork Flooring Deteriorates

Cork is a natural product sourced from trees. Since it is an organic product, it is subject to water damage. A subfloor system will be needed if you decide to install cork flooring in your basement.

Pros:

  • Soft
  • Good sound absorption

Cons:

  • This organic material is prone to deterioration

Plank Tile Flooring Can Be Expensive

Plank-sized porcelain tile flooring can look like real wood. Unfortunately, it’s costly.

Pros:

  • Rectified edges mean smaller grout lines
  • Attractive

Cons:

  • Feels cold underfoot
  • Even more expensive than traditional tile

We hope that when you examine all your options, you come to the conclusion that a polished concrete or epoxy floor is both economical and practical for your basement and other home areas. If you ever experience the challenge of a basement flood, you’ll be glad you did. Stay dry and keep the air quality of your basement living space breathable and free from mould. Opt for a sleek surface that is slip-resistant, and add throw rugs where you need them. It’s much easier to steam clean an area rug than redo your entire basement surface, should spring thaw or heavy rains leak into your home.

If you’re thinking about renovating your basement, call Concrete Epoxy 101 to discuss affordable options. You can choose a polish that provides a “wow” factor and will last for decades. For service in the Greater Toronto Area, call (416) 838-5188.

Related article: Choosing the Right Epoxy Coating for Your Garage/Basement

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