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Smart Basement Flooring Options

Applying Floor Adhesive

Proper preparation is key to a basement floor project.

Trends in Basement Flooring

Homeowners often want practicality and innovation when it comes to finishing or remodeling a basement. Here’s what's happening in four popular areas:

Carpet Squares: While carpeting may warm up the home’s basement floor, it’s not the best solution for moisture prevention. One growing trend is laying carpet squares over concrete. That way, if there are any water issues, an individual square can be ripped up quickly and the floor can be mopped before mold sets in.

Tile Innovations: There’s no rule stating the whole floor must be covered with one material. Flooring can be mixed, in terms of usage and functions. For basement remodels, your clients might appreciate broader offerings that include porcelain tiles finished to resemble wood planks, natural stone or concrete.

Cork: Because it’s soft and it breathes, cork may provide more comfort than a concrete floor. Plus cork doesn’t rot. If it gets wet, just sponge it up. Cork is a very durable material that’s being used more in sub-level kitchens and bars. Just be sure the product manufacturer recommends it for below-grade or basement installations.

Sustainable Flooring: More than a buzzword, this is one of the fastest-growing trends in flooring. Look for labels with certifications that guarantee high percentages of biodegradable or recycled content in carpet, ceramic tiles and wood flooring.

Commercial-Inspired Floors

Some homeowners are opting for commercial applications in residences as a wider variety of style choices become available. Two common choices are:

Stained Concrete: One of the newer trends is staining and finishing concrete basement slabs. Concrete isn't ideal for walking around, but it’s a durable and inexpensive option for workshops and large, open game rooms. To offset concrete’s cold feel, your clients can warm up their room with a variety of floor-warming products.

Linoleum: No longer associated with drab colors and industrial construction, linoleum is coming back in rich, bold colors. And since it’s a sustainable material (made of linseed oil) and doesn’t emit toxins like vinyl floors, it’s a smart option for your eco-friendly clients.



Raised subfloors designed specifically for basements provide a moisture barrier that allows the concrete to breathe. They work with floating subfloors that have built-in air vents blowing directly onto the concrete, thereby reducing the possibility of mold growth.

In flood-prone areas, steer clear of this sort of option. It can create a micro-climate between the concrete and finished flooring where mold and insects can grow. Typically the only way to repair it to rip out the whole floor.


No basement flooring can totally prevent the buildup of moisture. When addressing water issues, get to the source of the problem before doing any new installations. That will increase your success rate drastically.

Creating a Moisture-Resistant Basement

Many times, it’s not the finishes but the substrate material underneath that’s causing a basement’s water problem. Here are three ways to avoid wetness:

  1. Check the sloping. Many basements are built without the proper sloping to naturally eliminate water. Do some intense water-proofing and install a drainage system before getting to the floor itself. Allow for the grade to have proper slope prior to installing the stone base.
  2. Do a moisture test on the slab. Any readings above 10% moisture content may be reason for concern, and you’re likely to have problems with whatever material you select.
  3. Check the carpet’s perm rating. The permeability rating tells you the rate of water vapor passage through the material. The higher the perm rating, the more it allows moisture to transfer through it, potentially avoiding mold and mildew buildup.

The idea also applies to products like porcelain tiles, which range from nonvitreous (low-dense and highly absorbent) to impervious (very dense and nonabsorbent).