7 Best Flooring For Basements That Flood

Image of a flooded basement floor experiencing water damage.Owning a basement is all fun and games until it’s winter and the space floods, forcing you to spend a significant amount of money countering the aftermath. Even worse is that basement flooding can occur at any time, including dry seasons, probably due to a defective plumbing or foundation drainage system.

Fixing a flooded basement can cost up to ten thousand dollars, depending on the degree of damage. But what if you could escape such unforeseen costs and permanently remedy the situation?

It all narrows down to installing the best flooring for basements that flood. With this in place, you can say goodbye to consistent moisture damage and mold growth underneath your basement floor. Let’s dive into more details on some ideal flooring options for such situations to enable you to restore your basement’s former glory. 

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Best flooring for basements that flood

Choosing the ideal flooring solution that adequately suits your flood-prone basement without making a big dent in your wallet can be a tremendous task. Although a waterproof floor can cost an arm and a leg, it guarantees long-term protection from infiltration due to floods and is, therefore, your best bet in this case.

Other factors such as your budget and the purpose of your basement also come into play in selecting a suitable flooring option. While vinyl floors are often labeled as waterproof, be sure to confirm whether the product is a hundred percent waterproof, as this may not be the case for all of them. Rubber, concrete, and ceramic tile floors are effective solutions to flooding basements.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these flooring options to establish the best for your basement.

1. Concrete

If you’re on a tight budget, a concrete floor is a way to go. Despite being known for its porosity, a concrete floor can effectively remedy a flood-prone basement following proper treatment. Treatment, in this case, includes sealing the floor and using epoxy paint, each of which is durable and affordable.

Epoxy paint is among the most rigid paint materials that can also act as a sealant. It also contributes to the floor’s aesthetic appeal and is ideal for basements that serve a recreational purpose.

If you intend to use your below-grade space as a storage or laundry room, concrete floors are the best fit for a small budget. In such cases, you can choose not to install a finished floor because the concrete will serve the purpose anyway. You can opt for affordable dyes and stains to enhance the floor’s appearance, and you’ll be good to go. 

However, if you intend to use the basement as an informal living room or you’re big on aesthetics, a concrete floor may not be your ultimate solution.

2. Vinyl

Luxury vinyl should be your go-to if you use your basement frequently, owing to its ease of maintenance and sturdy wear layer. Vinyl flooring mainly encompasses synthetic materials with a tight interlocking mechanism that makes it impenetrable. However, luxury vinyl isn’t the best suit if you’re working with a limited budget, as it can cost you up to ten dollars per square foot, depending on the design.

Alternatively, you can opt for pocket-friendly sheet vinyl that costs about one to two dollars per square foot. Sheet vinyl is ideal for flood-prone basements with minimal foot traffic because its wear layer isn’t as thick. Even better is that some of the designs feature an inbuilt underlayment, further cutting costs. With vinyl flooring, you will have a variety of designs to choose from, which makes it ideal if you prioritize aesthetics.

In the case of a flood-prone basement, consider opting for waterproof rather than water-resistant vinyl flooring. A hundred percent waterproof vinyl floors can withstand prolonged exposure to moisture and prevent infiltration, while the latter can only hold out against topical spills. Vinyl cores that are utterly waterproof include:

3. Wood Plastic Composite Cores

WPCs are mainly a combination of wood fiber and plastic that make the flooring completely waterproof. This vinyl floor type also features a click-lock installation method that results in tight, impenetrable joints.

4. Stone Plastic Composite Cores

These comprise limestone added to a mixture of stabilizers and PVC, contributing to the floor’s rigidity. SPCs exhibit unmatched durability with low maintenance into the bargain. They are entirely waterproof and feature a floating lock mechanism too.

5. Hybrid

Hybrid vinyl barely differs from SPCs because both have rigid cores and an inbuilt underlayment to counter the floor’s rigidity by providing an extra cushion underfoot. However, unlike SPCs, hybrid vinyl features a highly stain-resistant wear layer that reinforces its waterproof aspect.

6. Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are often used in swimming pools, which speaks volumes about their impervious nature. They are an ultimate go-to if you aim to protect the floor from infiltration while simultaneously enhancing your basement’s elegance. Although they can effectively prevent infiltration, they will not come in handy to avoid damage by fluid that originates from beneath the floor and are relatively expensive. 

7. Rubber

If you’re looking for a simple, affordable, and convenient flooring solution, then this is it. Rubber flooring costs barely ten dollars per square foot without additional installation costs. In addition to easy maintenance, rubber offers a variety of designs to choose from, with durability into the bargain. However, due to its poor insulation property, you may want to use a radiant heat source to make the room feel cozier.

When to Best Use Paints and Stains for Basements?

Thanks to the stand-alone characteristic of concrete floors, you don’t have to use a finish material such as paints or stains, especially if you intend to use the basement as a storage room. However, if you’re into aesthetics, you have to finish off with quality paint or stain because the concrete’s unfinished surface may not be as appealing.

Although both options are ideal for enhancing your basement’s elegance, your choice should depend on where you’re working from and your desired outcome—for instance, staining best suits basements used for recreational activities or hosting guests. Stains come with various color choices and chemically react with the concrete, thereby eliminating any chances of chipping or peeling.

You can either use water or acid-based stains and follow up with a sealant to enhance durability. Quality stain is also a suitable option for when you’re on a tight budget because you will spend barely fifty cents per square foot. However, if your basement is flood-prone or old, staining won’t do the trick because its translucent finish can’t conceal a flawed floor.

Elastomeric paint is best used in flood-prone basements thanks to its watertight nature and flexibility that allows easy expansion and contraction. If you’re dealing with an old basement floor, painting is ideal as it gives the floor a simple, fresh look while protecting it simultaneously. Paint cover’s the floor entirely, making it sufficiently impervious while concealing flaws such as patches and cracks. 

Although paint is more likely to chip after a while, you can counter this drawback by prepping the floor adequately. This entails identifying and patching all cracks and holes, edging and applying at least two coats depending on the manufacture’s specifications, while allowing each coat to cure completely. Epoxy-based sealants also go a long way for flood-prone basements due to their impeccable waterproof aspect.

More importantly, safety comes first when using either stains or paints. Therefore, consider utilizing protective equipment, including gloves and face masks, especially when dealing with acid stains.

When to use Traditional” Basement Flooring Options

Whether your looking for simplicity or are an aesthetics enthusiast, traditional basement flooring options got you covered. They offer different designs, colors, and patterns at your disposal, and most are relatively affordable. Depending on your budget and specific floor needs, you can choose from different types. These include:

Ceramic Tile

Like most flooring options, the ceramic tile industry has evolved and graces you with various designs, some of which mimic wood and stone. This makes them ideal for lounges, playrooms, outdoor spaces; you name it. Additionally, they are completely waterproof, making them ideal for flood-prone basements.

However, ceramic tile isn’t a suitable finish material for wooden subfloors due to the excessive expansion that can result in cracking unless you prepare the subfloor adequately. Additionally, if you intend to use the basement as a storage room for sharp and heavy-duty tools, ceramic isn’t the best choice as the tiles will end up scratching or, worse, breaking.

Natural hardwood

Natural hardwood also comes in various colors and gives you the option to stain the floor depending on your preference. If your basement is dry and serves as a guest room, this should be your go-to. Natural hardwood, however, isn’t the ultimate option if your basement exhibits significant changes in humidity or is flood-prone, thanks to its high susceptibility to moisture damage.

Wall to wall carpet

Carpet is ideal for cozy spaces due to its outstanding aesthetics and superior insulation properties. It, however, can’t withstand flooding, and its maintenance is tedious, mainly if your household includes kids or pets.

How to Best Use Floating Floors for Basements

As the name implies, a floating floor refers to finish material that features a click-lock installation method and therefore floats over the subfloor or underlayment without any adhesives underneath. Installing a waterproof floating floor in a flood-prone basement is one of the best flooring decisions you can make.

Apart from their affordability and ease of installation, you can easily remove floating floors to assess the moisture situation underneath because the floor isn’t affixed to the subfloor. Such floor types come in handy for concrete subfloors whose surface is hard, making it challenging to install nail-down floors. Some even feature a design that allows air to pass beneath them to help dry out moisture.

Floating floors can be any type, mainly laminate, luxury vinyl, and engineered hardwood. Each of these options comes bearing the undebatable convenience of floating floors, but without knowing how to utilize them entirely, you may end up missing out on the benefits thereof. That said, here are some of the tips on how to best use floating floors for basements depending on the flooring material in question.

  • Adequate prepping before installation. This entails cleaning and eliminating subfloor imperfections by leveling the high and low points to enhance stability.
  • Allow the flooring to acclimatize before installing. Consider leaving the flooring in the basement for about forty-eight hours for it to adjust to the prevailing conditions to ease installation.
  • Leave room for expansion. This goes for most, if not all, floating floor types. An expansion gap allows the floor to effortlessly adjust to temperature changes rather than conform to pressure, which is likely to cause significant damage.
  • Clean the floor regularly. This includes wiping away spills soon after they occur, especially in the case of vinyl planks. Wiping the floor regularly with a wet cloth to eliminate debris goes a long way for luxury vinyl and laminate floors. Consider dry cleaning by vacuuming or sweeping the floor for engineered hardwood.
  • Climate control the basement. Basements exhibit regular fluctuations in humidity which can result in irreversible damage to the floor hence the need to climate control the room. You can do so by extending the HVAC system, improving air circulation by opening access points, installing heaters or a fireplace if you intend to use the basement as a chill spot.

Implementing these tips enables you to extend your floor’s longevity and fully utilize the convenience it brings. More importantly, be sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s specifications on how to best use your specific floating floor type.

What is the most durable flooring for a basement?

Generally, the most durable flooring material for any below-grade space is one that exhibits superior moisture-resistant qualities. I would, therefore, recommend vinyl flooring as it’s the most adaptable flooring type. Vinyl comprises mainly plastic, an inorganic material, and can withstand prolonged moisture exposure. Here are some more reasons why vinyl flooring is the most durable option for your basement:

  • Luxury vinyl is a floating floor type. Floating floors are the best bet when dealing with a flood-prone basement. You can easily uninstall the floor to check for any moisture damage beforehand and make repairs if necessary.
  • It offers a warmer option. Today, some vinyl floors come with an attached underlayment that provides an additional cushion underfoot, which comes in handy for cold basements with concrete subfloors.
  • Vinyl flooring mainly comprises synthetic materials. Vinyl floors mainly entail PVC meaning little to no moisture can damage the floor. Additionally, synthetic materials prevent the growth of mold and mildew underneath.
  • Some feature an additional protective layer at the top. The protective layer inhibits penetration of moisture resulting from accidental spills. It also extends the floor’s durability by safeguarding it from scratches and minor scrapes.

Vinyl floors can offer you a look and feel similar to that of hardwood, with a variety of designs into the bargain. It’s ideal if you’re on a tight budget as you don’t need a professional to install or uninstall the flooring. With grouted vinyl tile, you can get a finish similar to that of ceramic tile but warmer. Its inorganic components also enable it to withstand high traffic basements.

When selecting a durable flooring option for your basement, desist from choosing flooring materials that are mainly composed of natural components. Wood, for instance, has its pros but is highly susceptible to moisture damage thanks to its porous nature and is therefore not suitable for basements.

Despite its superior aesthetics, ceramic tile features poor insulation properties, and it is more costly as it requires professional installation. Additionally, below-grade spaces often exhibit cold temperatures, eliminating ceramic tile as an ideal option. Although popular, epoxy flooring is cold and hard underfoot and requires extra cushioning alongside a radiant heat source.

What is the most waterproof flooring?

Before establishing the most waterproof flooring, it is essential to note the difference between a waterproof and a water-resistant floor. Waterproof flooring comprises permanently impervious materials, while the latter can only withstand exposure to liquids for a limited period. While 100% waterproof floors can withstand even floods, expect swelling or warping in the case of water-resistant floors.

Ceramic and porcelain tile exhibit superior waterproof qualities that supersede most flooring options. They feature an impenetrable glaze at the top that also fosters easy cleaning.

However, prolonged use and poor maintenance of ceramic tiles could result in water infiltration. Maintenance entails coating the floor and utilizing underfloor heating to reinforce the waterproof aspect.

You can also opt for vinyl sheet flooring as an ideal waterproof flooring option. Vinyl planks can also be completely waterproof, but there’s a possibility of water seeping through the seams owing to the click-lock installation mechanism. Vinyl sheet counters this drawback as it’s seamless, and the base layer is entirely waterproof.

Below is a video showing how to waterproof a concrete basement floor:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of flooring is good for a flooded basement?

The ultimate flooring solution for a flood-prone basement is good old concrete. It’s affordable, and you won’t have to remove it following a flood. Also, unless you’re enthusiastic about the aesthetics, you don’t have to install a finish material. However, if you do, consider opting for synthetic finish material, preferably vinyl. Alternatively, consider sealing the floor to counter its porosity. You can also finish off with a quality stain or paint to make the floor more appealing.

Can vinyl plank flooring survive flooding?

This depends on the installation process and the length of the floor’s exposure to water. Vinyl planks feature a lock mechanism with seams, through which liquids can seep into following prolonged exposure. However, installing a waterproof membrane underneath the vinyl can prevent floodwater that seeps through the seams from damaging the subfloor. Ultimately, vinyl plank flooring reinforced with a waterproof membrane underneath can survive flooding.

Is rubber flooring flood proof?

Yes. Rubber is flood-proof and offers a variety of thicknesses and color options to choose from, depending on your budget. However, be sure to loosely lay the rubber flooring during installation, preferably using carpet tape for easy removal. Otherwise, you may use cured polyurethane adhesive to keep the flooring intact in the event of a flood.

Is waterproof vinyl flooring good for basements?

Yes. Vinyl flooring is perfect for damp areas such as basements. The floor type is both waterproof and water-resistant. You can have your vinyl floors exposed to wet conditions for days or weeks without significant damage.

The Takeaway

The best flooring for your basement mainly depends on the prevailing conditions and your desired outcome. While traditional flooring options are relatively affordable and grace you with variety, most require professional installation and are barely waterproof. Although ceramic tile is waterproof, it can barely withstand moisture that seeps from beneath the floor. 

Therefore, I recommend using concrete and topping it off with quality paint or stain if you’re aiming for a simple end product. Otherwise, if you’re looking forward to a basement floor that makes a statement, luxury vinyl is for you due to its synthetic nature and superior aesthetics. You can also effortlessly remove and reinstate the vinyl if it needs to cure. That way, your below-grade space will be anything but boring.

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