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The Best Flooring for Your Basement: Paint Options and More!

If you have a basement, you know that keeping it dry is important. Moisture issues and flooding in the basement can cause the growth of harmful fungi, destroy furniture, and ruin stored items.

To stay on top of basement maintenance, you must investigate sources of dampness, evaluate external and internal drainage systems, test the porosity of your basement walls, and install dehumidifiers as necessary. Your choice of flooring also plays a critical role in keeping your basement livable. So what is the best flooring for your basement?

Empty clean basement floor

The Best Basement Flooring Options

The material you select for your flooring is the first step toward ensuring your basement remains dry, regardless of the season and weather.

Consider the following factors when selecting the best flooring for a basement: 

  • Water resistance
  • Expense
  • Sound insulation
  • Warmth
  • Ease of installation (mainly for DIY)
  • Long-term durability

Your priority when choosing the best basement flooring should be the material’s water resistance. Basements can become damp due to cool air, internal or external drainage problems, and humidity from showers, kitchens, and leaking pipes. If you have a faulty water heater, this can also cause water to collect on the ground in your basement.  

As a result, if you want to lay carpeting, you need to place a waterproof layer between the concrete and carpeting to avoid causing moisture to accumulate. If you are simply laying flooring directly on the cement floor, ensure you are working with a waterproof floor material.

Laminate flooring is one of the best choices for your basement when you’re looking to lay flooring over concrete. Laminate is easy to install, and you can lay a vapor barrier underneath to create extra protection from moisture coming through your concrete subfloor. If water does infiltrate your basement at any point, laminate is easy to clean and will not become easily damaged.

red and white tiles

Ceramic & Porcelain Tiles

Ceramic and porcelain are two highly water-resistant basement floor ideas for environments that are wet or humid. That’s why they’re popular choices for kitchens and bathrooms. If you have a level concrete basement floor, you can lay ceramic or porcelain tiling directly on top without additional protective layers. The complexity of the installation depends on the scale of the task.

Like concrete, ceramic and porcelain tiles can be cold on bare feet. If you want to avoid discomfort, you can install a radiant heating system between the substrate and the tiling, which delivers a warm, comfortable surface.

The primary difference between ceramic and porcelain is that ceramic needs to have a glazed surface to be water-resistant. Porcelain tiles, however, are more resistant to moisture, absorbing less than 0.5% of water.

What is the Cheapest Way to Finish a Basement Floor?

One of the cheapest ways to finish your basement floor is to use carpet tiles. While carpeting can present concerns for moisture retention in a basement, if you waterproof the floor properly beforehand, it remains a viable option for the budget-conscious homeowner.

Cost Expectations

You may be wondering how much it costs to finish a 1,000-square-foot basement. This depends on several factors, such as whether you intend to finish the basement yourself vs. hiring a professional contractor, the layout of your basement, whether you want to include lighting systems, and whether it requires drywall, plywood, or other materials for the walls.

Rubber Flooring

Don’t discount the possibility of using rubber flooring for your basement. Rubber is soft, absorbs sound, and resists moisture. It also provides a non-slip surface in comparison with other materials, such as ceramic and wood. In addition to being naturally waterproof, rubber is also impervious to mold.

Rubber flooring is often installed without glue, so there are no risks of toxic fumes or adhesive failure during flooding. Furthermore, since rubber is soft and provides protective cushioning, it is ideal for children’s playrooms. If a child slips on rubber tiles, it will absorb the impact of their fall better than hardwood or concrete, decreasing the chance of injury.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is attractive and suitable for living and dining rooms. However, because solid hardwood is an organic material, it is less than ideal for basement flooring because it doesn’t effectively resist moisture. The result is an attractive and expensive flooring type that is susceptible to damage in a damp environment.

Engineered Wood Flooring

Although engineered hardwood contains organic material, it benefits from an artificial core that is more resistant to the elements than solid hardwood. Engineered wood is also more effective at absorbing sound than many of the harder materials on the market.

If your basement experiences flooding, engineered wood can be more challenging to take up than some other flooring options, especially if it’s nailed or glued in place. It’s also more expensive than many other options.  

Concrete Flooring

Concrete is one of the most durable and water-resistant flooring options available, requiring no subfloor. Its appearance is utilitarian, trading a more industrial look for the classic hardwood of the past. Concrete, despite its functionality, is the coldest flooring material and one of the most difficult to heat.

It also provides substandard sound absorption, so if you intend to use your basement as a music studio or entertainment room, you’ll need to install extensive insulation materials on the walls and add a rug to the floor.

Painting and Sealing Flooring for Basements

Whether you choose an organic or inorganic material for your basement’s flooring, a slip-resistant, protective polyurethane coating can provide numerous benefits. Durabak can seal the topmost layer to prevent moisture penetration.

Should you paint a concrete floor? There are many benefits to doing so. Painting a basement floor made of concrete with Durabak textured paint can help reduce the risk of slip and falls, but you’ll need to seal it for the best results. When you seal a concrete basement floor, it prevents moisture from the ground below your home from seeping up through the floor and dampening a living or storage space.

Painting vs. Staining Your Basement Floor

When finishing your basement floor, you might be wondering whether to opt for basement floor paint vs. basement floor staining. If you’re working with a basic concrete basement floor, applying a stain doesn’t provide a protective coating. Instead, a stain permeates the porous surface of the concrete and requires a sealer. 

If you paint a basement floor, it provides a more polished, complete look aesthetically, but the paint can crack or chip if improperly applied. Especially in new homes, as the foundation settles, you may also have to touch up your flooring finishes in case the concrete flooring heaves or cracks.

It’s important to remember that paint alone isn’t sufficient for filling in cracks and holes in your basement floor. You’ll need to apply a latex or epoxy patching product first.

How to Apply Durabak

Since Durabak begins to cure when it’s exposed to the air, don’t open the can until you’ve prepped the surface you’ll be painting. Stir the paint and pour a small amount into a roller tray. Close the can until you need more. Roll the first coat of Durabak on the concrete surface using the stipple roller sleeve. If necessary, you can use a paintbrush for fine detail work, such as filling in corners.  

To prepare old concrete surfaces, clean them with muriatic acid. The ideal solution consists of 45–50% muriatic acid and three to four parts water. Using a hard-bristled brush, apply the solution to the concrete surface and agitate it for about 10 minutes to open the material’s pores for better adhesion. When it’s time to neutralize the acid, removing any harmful residues, use a 5% solution of ammonia and water.

Once completely dry, you can also use a brush to remove any remaining residue. Wipe the concrete surfaces with Xylene or Solvide and allow them to evaporate before applying Durabak.

wooden, under construction basement

The Paint That’s Got Your Back

Regardless of the type of flooring you choose for your basement; you can protect it against water using Durabak — a polyurethane, anti-slip coating. Our products are useful for protecting all surfaces from basement flooring to truck beds.

When you apply Durabak, you create a water and UV-resistant surface that protects the underlying layer against abrasion and corrosion. You can choose from various colors and opt for smooth or textured Durabak depending on what surface you’re coating. Durabak can be applied to wood, concrete, rubber, and more, allowing you to improve the durability and longevity of any surface.

Images:
Photo by Vlad B on Unsplash
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash
Photo by Real Twin Photos on Unsplash

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