11 Best Flooring Options for Basements: Pros & Cons, & Waterproof

In many homes in the US, the basement often experiences floods from leaks and water sewage problems. A statistic shows that the water can rise to 1 and a half-inch deep. That amount of water is enough to destroy your basement’s floor beyond repair. And if you can restore it, you will have to spend a lot of money.

So, what are the best waterproof flooring options for basements? How does each material differ from one another? What are materials for the floor cost-efficient and long-lasting?

Here is your guide to upgrading your cellar to something that can withstand water and high-level humidity.

#1 Sheet Vinyl

Vinyl is a durable floor option and the best material to install in your cellar, alongside concrete and ceramic tile.

vinyl tile

There is a distinction between these types of materials and tile or plank vinyl. Sheet vinyl offers a nearly smooth and water-resistant surface. It is always good when moisture is present. If water is present for an extended time, the seams in the tile vinyl may absorb moisture.


The Pros and Cons of Sheet Vinyl

  • It prevents water from coming inside.

  • It’s affordable, with prices as low as cents per square foot.

  • Ceramic tile or concrete is colder to the touch.
  • It is regarded as a low-cost fix.

  • For adherence, a very clean surface is required.

  • Installation of sheet vinyl is not typically a do-it-yourself task.
  • #2 Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

    Tile is the best of many worlds for underground room floor solutions. It’s a completed surface instead of a raw surface like concrete. Nonetheless, this is a polished surface that is appealing on its own. Unlike concrete, it does not require any additional polishing.

    porcelain tile

    You may lay a tile made of ceramic or porcelain directly on a concrete slab. Radiant heating can be layered between the concrete and the tile to warm the tile surface because tile on concrete can be chilly.

    The Pros and Cons of Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

  • In the event of a leak, it dries out and is unaffected.

  • Tile installation in small spaces is a do-it-yourself project.

  • It will never rot.
  • If the temperature is a concern, you may need radiant heating.

  • Installing big sections of tile can be difficult for do-it-yourselfers and may necessitate hiring a professional.

  • Sound absorption is inadequate.

  • A concrete slab may require extensive leveling and maintenance since there is no intervening subfloor to compensate for slab faults.
  • #3 Engineered Wood

    Wood does not withstand extended dampness well because it is sourced from trees and is natural. As a result, solid hardwood is one of the poorest choices for the basement. Engineered wood is a different matter. Engineered wood is dimensionally stable because of the cross-hatched plywood substrate beneath the real wood overlay. It keeps its shape even when exposed to a bit quantity of moisture.

    The Pros and Cons of Engineered Wood

  • It can withstand a small amount of wetness.

  • It is one of the more appealing possibilities when it comes to basements.

  • Sound absorption is exceptional.
  • It must be built on a subfloor of some sort.

  • It is one of the most expensive options.

  • It is more difficult to remove water leaks since it is hammered or screwed to the subfloor.
  • #4 Luxury Vinyl Plank or Tile

    Luxury vinyl is a newer resilient material than the traditional variety adhered to the subfloor with glue that can fit in your mansion. Instead, manufacturers pieced together a luxurious vinyl to create a floating floor. There’s another significant distinction that luxury vinyl can closely resemble the substance. It imitates wood or stone.

    Wood-look luxury vinyl is available in 6 x 48-inch planks. You can heavily stamp it for a texture that more strongly matches actual wood grain because it is relatively thick. Stone-look luxury vinyl tile attempts to imitate the appearance of slate and travertine. You can also find it looks like marble and other popular stones in a vinyl tile format. Stone-look premium vinyl is available in 16-inch by 16-inch squares or smaller.

    The Pros and Cons of Luxury Vinyl Plank or Tile

  • The thick wear layer ensures this vinyl is more durable than sheet or tile vinyl.

  • A floor that is up to twice the thickness of traditional tiles or sheets is slightly warmer.

  • You can turn it into many types of wood and stones and look just like the actual thing.
  • Some homeowners may regard vinyl tile as an inferior material. Luxury tile may not result in a higher resale value.

  • In the event of flooding, luxury vinyl plank and tile may leak water down to the subfloor as a seamed protective coating.

  • The price is higher for a product that is still fundamentally a vinyl tile.
  • #5 Concrete

    Concrete has become more popular among homeowners as utilitarian surfaces have shifted. It is not necessary to leave concrete in its natural state. You may paint or stain it to give it a distinct look. If considerable patching is required, the only method to conceal the patches is to paint them.

    If you choose concrete, make sure you seal it with a waterproofing sealer to keep it damp.

    The Pros and Cons of Concrete

  • It is the most water-resistant option available

  • It necessitates the least quantity of resources.

  • There is no need for a subfloor.
  • This is the coldest of all alternatives, with no method to heat it below.

  • If you want to create a home cinema, poor sound quality is a significant disadvantage.

  • Concrete must be extensively scrubbed and cleaned before you can paint it. It takes more time than one might think.
  • concrete

    #6 Plank Tile

    Porcelain tile in plank sizes is impenetrable to moisture. Thanks to its sharply drawn designs, it resembles natural wood. It is well-known and considered a long-lasting surface. Since it is so durable, many use it in high-traffic locations like restaurants and other commercial establishments. The edges of plank tile are polished, which is the main distinction between it and ordinary tile.

    These tiles are placed edge-to-edge with no mortared grout lines because of the 90-degree edges.

    The Pros and Cons of Plank Tile


  • As a result of its increasing position as a status symbol, it has a higher resale value.
  • It has an attractive appearance.

  • It is waterproof.

  • Grout lines are less when the margins are round.
  • Typically, pricier than standard-sized tile.

  • Even installing radiant heating mats feels chilly underneath. It’s still a ceramic tile.
  • #7 Epoxy

    Basement epoxy is becoming more common than it was previously. It can provide a unique design option while being simple to maintain and long-lasting. The temperature is a crucial disadvantage of epoxy in basements like ceramic tile. This option is chilly and challenging to walk on. A more cushioned surface could be a preferable alternative, depending on your family’s needs.

    Epoxy can help you achieve an industrial look wherever it is installed.

    The Pros and Cons of Epoxy

  • It is water-resistant.

  • It has excellent durability.

  • It can last long.
  • It can be chilly.

  • It can be hard on your feet.
  • #8 Wall-to-Wall Carpeting


    In bathrooms, many chastise wall-to-wall carpeting as a subpar option. That is correct. A carpet does not dry quickly and can harbor mold and mildew. It becomes squishy and unpleasant when wet. But does this imply that carpet is a poor choice for a basement?

    Apart from extreme circumstances such as flooding, basements have less moisture than ordinary bathrooms. You may also use wall-to-wall carpeting in basements to operate with the installation of a solid system.

    cat lying on a carpet

    Your cats and dogs will love it if you install carpet!

    Remember that you should lay basement carpeting on a case-by-case basis. If your basement is fully dry across the year, you could get a decade of service out of it. However, be ready to replace the entire carpet in the event of a water-related disaster.

    Installing carpet squares is a unique alternative to wall-to-wall carpeting. Newer carpet squares are thicker and more beautiful than the ultra-low-pile indoor-outdoor squares. Those have been carpeting basements for decades. Carpet squares will be just as saturated and destroyed as a wall-to-wall carpets in the event of floods. You can rip up and replace carpet squares on a case-by-case basis.

    Keep in mind that the extraction and replacement of wall-to-wall carpeting are more complex.

    The Pros and Cons of Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

  • Even without radiant heating, this is one of the hottest options.

  • It enhances the sound quality of home theater systems.

  • This is a terrific alternative if you have tiny children who want to play on the surface.
  • It is quite costly, especially if you choose thicker heaps and cushioning.

  • Although the carpet can dry, it generally requires industrial-grade drying equipment or services to complete the task. Avoiding mold growth can be hard.
  • #9 Laminate

    laminate floor

    Laminated cellar floors are popular options today. This material is appealing due to its layered graphics and thicker surfaces for deeper embossing. However, it is still subject to moisture concerns beneath the surface. When exposed to water, it will swell over an extended time and remain that way indefinitely. The laminate will not turn back to its original size after drying.

    The top picture and wear layers will also begin to flake away. You can repair water-damaged laminate by replacing it entirely.


    With the installation of a correct underfloor system, a traditional laminate material may work in the basement. The subfloor and the laminate’s foam overlay protect water vapor from the concrete slab. The underfloor technology will also lift the laminate above the water in minor flooding.

    Since waterproof laminate contains no wood, it will not inflate or constrict. It is still an item in need of a market. In North America, it’s tough to come by. The brands that are accessible have restricted design possibilities.

    The Pros and Cons of Laminate

  • Along with its foam underlayment, laminated is one of the warmest options.

  • Do-it-yourself installation is simple.

  • Sound absorption is adequate.
  • Extremely vulnerable to water damage.

  • It is not necessary but highly suggested to install a subfloor.

  • There is a hollow sensation underneath.

  • It may generate static electricity.
  • #10 Rubber

    Gyms and garages are popular places to find this material. Dance studios and swimming pools also commonly use rubber. Is rubber suitable for basements as well?

    If you intend to design your basement as a play zone rather than a formal living space, you might be in luck. Rubber will not work in most homes if not installed properly. Like the kind found in commercial gyms, roll rubber has the fewest gaps. Interlocking rubber tiles are similar in price and are simple to install since they fit together like a jigsaw.

    The Pros and Cons of Rubber

  • It has the recommended insulation against subfloor temperatures, making it nice for your feet.

  • It provides a soft surface.

  • When it comes to moisture resistance, this product excels.
  • It is more for exercise or storage than living spaces. It is not aesthetically pleasing.

  • Water can still escape between seams, especially with overlapping rubber tiles. As a consequence, it’s not waterproof.
  • #11 Cork

    Cork comes from cork trees and is a natural substance. Cork would generally be an excellent fit for below-grade areas because it is soft underfoot and easy to walk on. Cork also feels warm. Still, it is an organic substance susceptible to water damage. If you want to put a cork downstairs, you’ll first need to construct a subfloor system.

    The Pros and Cons of Cork

  • Cork is an excellent insulator for cold basement surfaces.

  • It’s comfortable to walk on.

  • Sound absorption is excellent.
  • Cork is prone to degradation due to its organic nature.

  • Rolling cork is challenging to install on your own, so it’s usually best left to the professionals.
  • Boy playing on a cork floor

    What Floors Are Good for Basements?


    The most recommended for your underground room is vinyl. It is an all-rounder material perfect for withstanding any weather conditions and water leakage.

    Humid air naturally descends to the cellar and condenses against the concrete slab. You can avoid this type of moisture problem using a dehumidifier. A particular concrete slab is also porous, allowing outside moisture to leak into your underground room. Seal your room. Install a vapor barrier or create a raised subfloor on which to put your floor are all options for preventing damage.

    painted concrete

    What to Look For

    Maybe you’re adding living space to your basement or creating a playroom for your kids. You could even be building a bespoke bar. You’ll want to safeguard your investment by choosing materials that will last a lifetime. It ensures your house maximizes its resale value. You may also ensure durability, quality, and level of comfort. Finishing your basement is a major undertaking that demands extensive planning and professional assistance. It’s a good thing you are here because I will help you with your concerns.

    The following are the things to consider when looking for the best basement floor options for your property:

    Moisture Resistance

    When selecting materials to finish the space, it’s essential to be sure they can withstand moisture. Moisture is a serious issue in most basements.


    Considering how you intend to use your basement, you may want to look into the durability of a product. For example, a children’s playroom may require a different material than a personalized bar.

    Comfort Level

    You may use basements for various purposes, including an additional living area or a home theater. Choosing the most suitable material for your particular needs would be best.


    Consider your basement’s temperature in mind. The chilly foundation will create a colder surface if you use ceramic tile or epoxy.

    Best Warm Option: Wall to Wall Carpeting 

    If you desire a warm interior temperature, a carpet for your basement is the ideal alternative. You should install carpeting on an individual basis. If your basement is completely dry throughout the year, it could last a decade. A water-related disaster, such as flooding from the outside, could be devastating. A burst pipe could be something you’ll deal with, or there’s a malfunctioning water heater. Be prepared to replace the entire carpet.

    Carpet squares are a novel alternative to traditional wall-to-wall carpeting. Replace the ultra-low-pile indoor-outdoor squares that are decade-old. Use newer carpet squares that are thicker and more appealing.

    Vinyl vs. Laminate

    The materials used in each style determine how well they can withstand dampness. Since vinyl is entirely synthetic, you may install it in almost any place. Due to the limited moisture resistance, you may only put laminate in certain regions.

    The picture underneath is laminate and is really quite close to wood in looks.

    pergo laminate

    The core layer of the vinyl plank is a deeper, multi-layer PVC vinyl. Planks or tiles of luxury vinyl connect side-to-side to create a floating floor. The vinyl comes in various thicknesses, ranging from 1.5 mm for sheet vinyl to 5 mm for luxury vinyl planks.

    On the other hand, laminate is identical to luxury vinyl planks in appearance and installation. The main distinction is that its core comprises wood byproducts that have been glued together with resins. A hard, clear plastic wear layer covers the printed pattern layer on the top surface. Laminate planks are available in 6 mm to 12 mm thick.

    The vinyl below doesn’t have the same appeal as the laminate, although it is cheaper.

    vinyl flooring


    You’ll find that the options available to you are a lot more refined and stylish than you might anticipate. You have nearly as many options for your basement as you do for any other level of your home. You should avoid solid wood because of its sensitivity to temperature and humidity shifts. Solid wood is costly. The chance of it distorting and breaking in a basement installation makes it a major risk not worth it to take.

    Don’t worry if you have your heart set on a wood-look. Many of the solutions listed above will meet your woodgrain dreams.

    vinyl floor

    Basement Subfloor Options

    The basement subfloor has a lot of responsibilities. The basement subfloor must perform the same functions as above-grade options, unlike the above surfaces. It’s a good thing because the following is a list of options you can consider installing in your basement.

    Two-by-Fours and Plywood

    A traditional way is to construct a basement subfloor out of two-by-fours overlaid with plywood. One advantage is that it keeps costs to a minimum. On the negative side of things, height is an issue because it uses a two-by-four sleeper structure.

    Floating Plywood 

    Plastic sheeting is the only barrier between the concrete and the plywood in this low-cost alternative. This type has the advantage of being thin and straightforward to install.

    Rigid Foam Insulation

    Rigid foam is also an excellent basement subfloor alternative since it creates a thermal barrier between the various layers.

    Specialty Premade Systems

    Subfloor systems do away with the multi-layer method of do-it-yourself systems by fusing all layers into tiles or panels. These tiles are simple to connect, and the subfloor goes down quickly. The disadvantage is the much higher cost.

    A barricade is a prefabricated system that consists of 2-foot by 2-foot by 1-1/8-inch tiles. It also comes with OSB wood on top and closed-cell polystyrene insulation on the bottom. The product’s thinness is the main benefit of these systems.


    What is the best on top of a basement cement floor?

    Vinyl is the most excellent choice for the tops of cement basement floors. Vinyl is available in vinyl plank and vinyl tile. You can make it look almost identical to hardwood and stone materials while still waterproof.

    Manufacturers make vinyl using PVC, making them both durable and water-resistant. Another advantage of a vinyl basement floor is its longevity. Unlike wood, it is constructed of inorganic components. It makes it ideal for high-traffic areas. Vinyl plank may be laid directly on your subfloor, making it significantly faster and easier to install.

    What is the best & cheapest way to cover a concrete floor, & how do I do it?

    Epoxy. Were you looking for a cost-effective alternative to the floor? Consider using ornamental epoxy to seal your concrete slab.

    Epoxy sealed concrete floor can be a transparent or solid color. It can also be a layered free-flowing creation, with only your imagination as a constraint. Epoxy finishes are low-maintenance and cost-effective. They are also easy to do yourself.

    What is the best material, & do you waterproof your basement?

    Epoxy. The coating on epoxy-sealed concrete is waterproof. A cloth or wet vacuum can readily remove water. You can paint or stain bare concrete covered with epoxy. The epoxy is put in multiple applications over several days and has a 20-year lifespan. The cost of installing epoxy ranges from $3.00 to $7.00 per square foot.

    How do you stop water from coming up through the basement where the wall meets the floor?

    The place where the wall meets the floor in the basement is called the cove joint. To properly stop the water from coming through there, address any walls that haven’t been properly waterproofed. The water could also be entering from underneath the house.

    Ensure you have enough drainage, which could involve installing a sump pump.

    What is the best flooring for a basement?

    Vinyl. When choosing the most suitable material for you and your family, vinyl is the best option. Vinyl comes in plank and tile varieties. You can design it to look almost identical to wood and stone surfaces while remaining watertight. They compose of PVC, which makes them both water-resistant and durable.

    Another benefit of vinyl in the basement is its durability. Unlike wood, it is made of inorganic materials. It makes it excellent for high-density areas. Vinyl plank may be installed directly on your subfloor, making installation quicker and easier. Overall, vinyl is a must-have factor a homeowner should invest in.

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