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Basement Flooring Options

You’ve decided to renovate your basement. How you develop the space will affect the type of flooring you choose. Will you create a cozy playroom, family games room or guest bedroom? A carpet would work for these areas. Are you planning a home gym? Try rubber mats. Will you need a home office? Laminate might be nice. No matter how you develop your basement, there are many great choices of flooring, each with its advantages and drawbacks.

  • Epoxy coating is waterproof, easy to apply, comes in many colours, is affordable, and simple to maintain. You can even blend colours to make it look like stone. If you can handle the hard cold surface, don’t mind the intensive prepping required (grinding or scarifying) and can bear the smell when applying, an epoxy coating and a few area rugs may be all you need on your basement floor. If you decide later to try another type of flooring, it can be placed over the epoxy.
  • Concrete paint is simple to apply, easy to clean, durable, affordable, available in many colours and helps prevent the diffusion of water into your basement. However, it is hard, cold, and won’t stick to an unprepared floor (concrete needs to be acid etched). Like epoxy, another type of flooring may be placed over concrete paint.
  • Concrete stain soaks into the concrete and is finished with a protective sealant. It is inexpensive, long lasting (several years), moisture resilient and can be used to create interesting and unique patterns. However, it will not hide cracks and blemishes, provides poor sound insulation, is cold and hard and requires intensive preparation (use of TSP and aggressive scrubbing). Another type of flooring may be placed over concrete stain.
  • Vinyl tile is durable, moisture proof, maintenance free, installs easily, provides a bit of cushioning, is affordable and is easily cleaned. It comes in different qualities and a variety of colours and patterns, including some that mimic the look of stone, wood and ceramic tile. However, it is cold on the feet, is more expensive than paint or stain and may leak moisture to the subfloor in the event of flooding. 
  • Sheet vinyl creates a nearly seamless, water impervious surface and has all the advantages of vinyl tiles. However, many people find it looks dated, it requires floor preparation, is cold on the feet and installation is not a D-I-Y project.
  • Ceramic tile is long lasting, durable, comes in many colours and styles, can handle a flood, and is not susceptible to mold or mildew growth. Choose a slip resistance style. Because ceramic tile is cold and hard, radiant heating is recommended. Ceramic is expensive, has poor sound absorption, your concrete needs leveling and repair before application and installation is a daunting task.
  • Engineered wood is made of solid wood backed with a layer of plywood rendering it stable and allowing it to withstand temperature and moisture fluctuations without warping. It is attractive, has excellent sound absorption, is maintenance free, improves the value of your home, is warm, can be used with radiant heat, is easy to install (click together planks or tiles) and is comprised of wood scraps making it eco-friendly. However, it is more expensive than paint/epoxy/stain/vinyl, can only tolerate small amounts of moisture, requires a subfloor and cannot be sanded and refinished. 
  • Laminate is made with a moisture barrier topped by a wooden composite core covered with a photographic layer (that can mimic wood, stone, metal or ceramic) and finished with plastic resin that protects against wear and tear. It is durable, attractive, resists small amounts of moisture, can be used with radiant heating, is easy to clean, low maintenance, simple to install (tongue and groove), reasonably affordable, withstands heavy traffic, has fair sound absorption, is warm, and is easy to stand on for long periods. However, laminate has a hollow feeling underfoot, can build up static electricity, will not handle a flood, requires a subfloor/vapour barrier and must be completely replaced if damaged by moisture.   
  • Rubber mat flooring is soft, comfortable, durable, reasonably waterproof, easy to dry if flooded, simple to install (interlocking tiles), and comes in many colours that can be used to create designs. However, it is heavy to work with, may leak some at the seams, and is not aesthetically pleasing to many. 
  • Cork flooring is soft, warm, comfortable, attractive, eco-friendly and has good sound absorption. Choose a sealed variety or seal it after installation to make it moisture resilient. Cork requires a sub floor, is not completely waterproof and you may need professional assistance (if you use the rolled variety). 
  • Carpet is soft, warm, attractive, provides soundproofing, camouflages an uneven subfloor, can be used with radiant heating and comes in many colours. Opt for one made of synthetic fibers (nylon or polyester) as they are mold and mildew resistant. Install a waterproof pad to block moisture from seeping up into the carpet or down through the pad to the concrete. Carpet is expensive, requires a subfloor, is not easily cleaned, and prone to mildew and mold. Consider carpet tiles as they have a better backing, absorb less moisture and it is easy to replace a single damp or dirty tile. 
  • Hardwood is expensive and will absorb moisture, warp and buckle so is not a viable choice for basement spaces. 

The good news is that there are many options for basement flooring! To narrow the choices, consider your budget, the moisture level of your basement and how you will develop your space. Once you find the flooring that is right for you, contact a contractor who specializes in basement finishing. He will have the knowledge, experience and expertise that can make your basement renovation go smoothly.When you are ready to create the basement of your dreams, call the Calgary basement experts, Econo Basements at (403) 768-0256 or email at

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