The Best Flooring for Basements in 2019

Basement Floor of Luxury Home

What is the best basement floor?

Talk about a loaded question! Anytime I hear someone ask a question that starts with Best, it scares me! Everyone’s opinion is different. However, when dealing with basements, the Best question, and answer, is a bit more clear.

The 2 Big Basement Floor Questions

child playing in basement on lvp floor

Cute Sugared Up Kid On Your Floor

There are 2 big questions to ask when we are helping a customer select a basement floor. First, are there any moisture issues, or is there potential for moisture issues? Secondly, is your basement an extension of your main living space, or a dungeon that is perfect for sugared-up kids, or somewhere in between?

Moisture is to most flooring like kryptonite is to Superman, so if you have moisture issues, your best bet is a floor that is waterproof, like luxury vinyl planks or luxury vinyl tiles. The newer floating vinyl floors are inexpensive, click together for easy installation, and virtually indestructible. Oh…and waterproof. Perfect for a wet basement.

Some people use their basements as extra room when entertaining, and prefer their upstairs décor to flow into the basement. As the upstairs is usually hardwood flooring, we are frequently tasked with helping select the right hardwood for a basement installation. This require the use of an engineered hardwood floor. As I have covered in other blogs regarding the construction of engineered floors, they are made of plys of wood. Each layer in a multi-ply floor would have the grain running perpendicular to the layers on either side.

somerset hardwood board cross section

Somerset Engineered Hardwood Cross Section

Basement Floor Kryptonite

This limits the expansion and contraction that the flooring will exhibit due to changes in moisture level. Remember the kryptonite? Moisture effects on wood is contraction and expansion, depending on whether the moisture levels decrease or increase. Both can be devastating to a solid wood floor, or even a low-end engineered. As a general rule, the more plys, the more stable that floor will be.

Cupped hardwood floor from moisture damage

Cupped Hardwood Floor From Moisture Damage

The Basement Flooring Lead Shield

laying down flooring glue to create a moisture barrier and sound suppressant

Putting Glue Down In The Basement

Another way to control the effects of moisture on your basement floor is to choose special glues with moisture barriers. These adhesives will be urethane based, instead of water. This allows the urethane, when cured, to form a moisture barrier between your concrete slab and your flooring. Some versions also include crack suppressant and sound reducers. While they can get expensive, having to reinstall a floor due to water problems is even more expensive!

The Floating Floor Option

floating floor click lock application

Floating Floor Example For Basements

Don’t forget, most engineered floors can be floated. While floating floors in a basement will not be attached to your concrete, they are still susceptible to expansion. Extra expansion space around the perimeter of your room will help, but still we like a high-ply floor to limit expansion.

Will your Basement Floors Accommodate Action or Archives?

Our second question was about your usage. It seems like the most common uses for basements are storage or a place to send the kids when a parent lacks the energy or will to apply the normal rules. Send them to the basement! Upon arrival, the kids quickly assume the behavior of a frat party at an AirBNB. It is at this point that the question of what is the best floor to install in your basement becomes more easily answered.

Luxury Vinyl Plank is the King

Luxury Vinyl Plank, or LVP, is easily the best choice. Because the lifetime of a floor is determined by it’s change in appearance, an LVP floor with variegated color and a distressed or hand scraped surface is the way to go. A variegated color means it will hardly ever look unkempt, while the handscraped surface means any damage that may be inflicted will be hidden among the other surface variations.

Another possibility to consider is buying an LVP with Aluminum Oxide, like Shaw’s Brasstown Creek available at ReallyCheapFloors.com. While almost all hardwood floors come from the factory with aluminum oxide particles suspended in the finish, very few LVPs do. Why? Because it is expensive! While the addition of aluminum oxide will run the price of a floor up another 30-50 cents, I can assure you it will lengthen the lifetime of your floor due to increased scratch and abrasion resistance. You can read more about ScufResist Platinum from Shaw by clicking here.

I hope I have been able to help with this question. If you have more questions, please do not hesitate to call us and ask. One of our flooring professionals will be happy to help.