Find Great Ideas And Options For Your Basement Flooring

Find Great Ideas And Options For Your Basement Flooring

Find Great Ideas And Options For Your Basement Flooring

Finished basements represent one of the most exciting remodeling opportunities for homeowners today. In a tough real-estate market, the basement is a way to add space and increase amenities without breaking the bank.

One of the considerations when planning a basement finish project is basement flooring. Deciding on the best floor covering for your basement can play a huge role in the long-term usefulness and enjoyment of the space. Since the floor covering is usually one of the larger investments in a basement remodel, the budget implications can be substantial.

Let’s consider some of the commonly used basement flooring options.

Basement Flooring — Paint & Sealer

A «painted floor» can be a misleading term because it can cover a simple paint job essentially thrown on with a roller and very little attention to detail, or it can refer to a virtual masterpiece of flooring art! Most painted basement floors, however, fall in the middle of that range. A well done painted floor can be extremely durable, very beautiful, and have lower costs than other options. Here are a few key considerations when painting a basement floor.

  • Be sure to clean the floor completely and allow it to dry thoroughly.
  • Repair any damage to the concrete slab, including filling settlement cracks.
  • Use quality paint specifically designed for use on flooring.
  • Finish with a durable sealer, often made specifically for a particular paint.

Drawbacks of painted floors include hardness, the tendency to stay cold, and potentially more visible wear in high traffic areas.

Basement Flooring — Tile

Like paint, tile is a material generally impervious to water damage. Water resistant floors are often the best flooring for basement applications due to the natural risk of water damage in basements.

Tile can also be more aesthetically pleasing and very durable. And, since laying tile is a skill many homeowners either have or can learn, tile can be one of the best basement floor options for DIY.

The considerations when choosing a tile for your basement include material, size, and pattern. Here are points to think about:

Basement Tile Flooring — Material Options

Tile flooring is widely available in a number of common materials such as:

Ceramic — Often less expensive, the color doesn’t go through the material.

Porcelain — Can be very beautiful and made to look like natural stone. The color goes through the tile.

Stone — Natural products such as marble and granite make for beautiful floors, but can bring a few challenges such as the need for sealer or special cutting equipment. Natural stone generally carries greater cost than other options.

Basement Tile Flooring — Size

When dreaming of basement floor ideas, it’s common to have visions of a wide open space with beautiful large tiles. Before you purchase a truckload of oversized tiles, be sure to check the flatness of your slab. The larger the tile is, the more perfectly flat your sub-floor must be. Dips or undulations in the slab cause large tiles to have uneven joints, creating a situation known as «lippage» which is both unsightly and a safety hazard.

If your sub-floor surface is flat or if you’re prepared to invest in «floating» the floor with a leveling product, then large tiles can be great for basements. Large tiles look good in large open spaces and they are easier to maintain due to fewer grout joints.

Basement Tile Flooring — Patterns

It’s worth some time to look around at the various patterns you see in tile and flooring showrooms. It’s not uncommon to take a relatively simple tile and make it look fantastic just by using an interesting pattern. At the same time, a busy pattern in small tiles can make a wide open space look cluttered. Tile can be laid in common grid patterns, in a running-bond pattern (like brick), on an angle, or even in patterns that invoke a natural stone look and include the use of a number of sizes. It’s worth the effort to look closely at your options before starting the work.

Basement Flooring — Laminate

When looking at basement flooring ideas, it’s important to know how reliable your basement drainage and waterproofing system is. If you’re confident that the basement will remain dry, laminate can be a great option for flooring. (Laminate doesn’t do well in wet situations)

Laminate flooring is made with an engineered substrate, such as particle board, which has a top layer of plastic laminate. This laminate layer is much like a traditional «Formica» kitchen counter. It can be printed with most any pattern, color, or design, and is very hard and durable.

Laminate flooring is offered in an amazing array of colors and patterns including wood grains, solid colors, and even textured materials that look and feel like hand-scraped hardwood. Since these patterns and colors are essentially printed on plastic laminate, the consistency between various pieces of the material is excellent. There is no unexpected variation with laminate flooring.

The cost of laminate options varies just as widely as the color choices. Interestingly, there are laminate flooring options at every price-point from the absolute lowest budget of a dollar a square foot, to the highest in excess of twenty dollars per square foot for the material alone. Clearly it’s not possible to classify laminate in general as a high-quality or a low-quality product since there are options across the entire range.

Basement Flooring — Hardwood

Another great basement flooring option for areas where water intrusion is not a concern is hardwood. Hardwood is much like laminate in that it doesn’t do well with water and includes selections that span the entire range of budgets.

Hardwood has a list of great attributes:

Natural Beauty — For homeowners who really prefer a natural feel, hardwood will offer benefits over laminate. Since the top layer of even the least expensive prefinished wood floors is actual wood, there is a natural variation to the material that is hard to duplicate in a man-made product.

Warmth — Unlike paint, tile, or even laminate, hardwood offers a natural warmth and insulation which keeps the floor at a more comfortable temperature, making the space more enjoyable. There is also a ‘feel’ of warmth in rooms that have natural hardwood floors. This is more of a psychological effect that comes from the comfort level of natural wood.

Sound — All of the floors listed so far are hard flooring products. A disadvantage of hard floors is the «loudness» factor. Hard surfaces generally don’t absorb sound and in a confined space like a basement this can be multiplied even further creating a space that is overly noisy.

Wood floors are unique among hard flooring surfaces in that wood naturally absorbs sounds. This applies to sounds from television, voices, and footsteps.

Basement Flooring — Carpet

Perhaps the best product from the perspective of sound is carpet and it represents one of the best basement flooring options for a space where noise is an important consideration, such as a home theater. Carpet also provides a level of comfort and warmth that hard floors can’t match.

For durability, carpet has come a long way. Some products offer twenty year wear warranties and are 100% stain proof! Carpet is also one of the most economical of basement floor options.

However, if there is any concern with your basement drains or waterproofing, carpet could be a bad choice. Carpet can be especially prone to mold in basement installations. This growth can sometimes occur undetected and represent a health concern for residents using the space. Natural light and dry conditions are helpful in preventing mold growth indoors.

Basement Design and Use Considerations

In the end, it’s really about how you want the space to look and how you plan to use it. A home theater wouldn’t do well with laminate flooring due to the poor sound absorption characteristics of laminate. A kid’s play area probably wouldn’t be the best place for natural stone since it can be one of the easiest materials to stain and the toughest to both clean and match in the event a repair is needed.

Here are a few things to consider before you go about selecting a floor covering for your basement finishing project.

1. Budget — At least having a budget range in mind can keep you sane when shopping for floors. The price spread of floor covering products is so vast, and the quantities of product often required, that a seemingly minor change in selection can have a budget impact of thousands of dollars.

2. Priorities — What’s the most important issue for you? Water resistance? Durability over time? A natural feel? Sound absorption? Knowing your first, second, and third priorities before you head out to the flooring showroom will make your trip enjoyable and productive.

3. Physical Conditions — Will it be possible to get a roll of carpet into your basement? Keep in mind that large pieces of carpet can be 15 feet long and a couple of feet in diameter when rolled-up. Does your sub-floor undulate in such a fashion that large tiles won’t be an option for you? Is mold a concern due to dark and damp conditions in part of the area?

4. Your Design Objectives — Have you really researched your desired look? Do you know exactly what you’re after? Taking lots of time before your project begins to look through websites, blogs, and magazines will help you establish a true understanding of what you love, and what you don’t! This will be immensely helpful when looking at basement flooring ideas.

Whatever flooring you choose, a basement finishing project is an excellent way to add space and value to your home without breaking the bank. Have fun while searching and enjoy that new space!

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