How to pick the best flooring for your basement

When finishing or remodeling your basement, choosing the type of flooring goes beyond just picking something that looks good. You’ll also want to consider durability, ease of cleaning and of course, overall cost. Other things will also affect your decision like what activities you’ll be doing in the space and heating concerns.

In this short guide I’ll go over some of the most common options as well as what you’ll want to consider with the future activities of the space, and the recommended installation for each option.

flooring-carpet

Carpet

  • Lots of affordable options as well as high-end ones too
  • Fairly inexpensive to install

Carpet insulates better than tile or other hard-floor options, so it’s a good choice for a basement. It is also better for home theatre acoustics due to it’s sound deadening qualities. If you want to make it more comfortable to walk on and sit on, spend a little more money on a decent quality underpad – this can make a lot of difference. The disadvantages of carpet are that bad spills can be difficult to remove and it will start to pick up mold if not kept dry.

flooring-tile

Tile

  • Louder Acoustics
  • Colder feel
  • Easy to clean
  • Semi-Permanent
  • More time-consuming to install

Tile can be a good option for children’s areas because of it’s durability and ease of cleaning. This is one option where do-it yourself installation might look decent if you only need to tile a large square area, but if you are tiling a bathroom sink or shower you may want to hire a professional tile installer because a sub-par finished product can detract value from your home. A tip for tile: buy a few extras and keep them in storage because they are notoriously hard to find a perfect match for replacement.

flooring-linoleum

Linoleum

  • Easy to clean
  • Affordable
  • Durable to spills and objects dropped on it

This is one where it is easy to tell the difference between an install done by an experienced professional or a do-it-yourself amateur. Take care when moving heavy furniture and keep clean from sand and grit to avoid damage. While it can sometimes be repaired, patched areas from tears or deep scratches stick out like a sore thumb.

flooring-hardwood

Laminate Hardwood or Engineered Flooring

  • Affordable to High-end options available
  • Easy to install with minimal do-it-yourself skills
  • Louder Acoustics
  • Easy to clean

One of the best ways to rejuvenate a tired old basement is to replace old carpet with a laminate floor. Many of these are called "engineered flooring" because of the multi-layer design and resistance to warping and swelling that afflicts regular hardwood. Rather than sticking with one color with carpet, you can accent your furniture and décor with colored rugs that can be easily changed if you get tired of them. Some of the newer varieties have fluted or textured surfaces that don’t slip as easily as a completely flat floor.

heating-floor-coil

Your best options to keep the basement warm

Everyone knows that for the most part, carpet is warm, and ceramic tile is cold. This is due to the low heat-conductivity of carpet, especially with a separate underlayment. Options like tile have a higher conductivity rating and will have a harder time staying warm when installed directly on a concrete slab.

In-floor heating is something that more people are considering with their basement finishing projects in in our cold Calgary winters. While it can demand that you have a bit more money in your budget, the option isn’t as expensive you might think. This is due to the fact that you can now install the heating coils over top of the slab rather than embedded in the concrete. See our post about How to insulate for better In-Floor Heating