Best Floors For Basements Prone To Floods

Published by Home Service Stars on

Flooding or leaky basements is a very common problem in many homes. If you ask your friends, you’ll probably find out that about half of them have some kind of issue with properly retaining moisture in their basement floors. Every winter, many homeowners have issues with finding the best way to stop flood damage in a basement prone to flooding. To stop water damage, bacteria build-up, and other issues caused by floods, you’ll need to waterproof your basement and find the best flooring for that. We’ll go over some of the best options for luxury vinyl, sheet vinyl, rubber, ceramic tile, and epoxy over concrete.

Pro Tips For Basements That Flood

Let’s start off by figuring out how badly your basement floods. If your flooding is severe, getting new flooring would be like putting lipstick on a pig: you would first need to address larger issues at hand. In these cases, it’s best to speak with a professional about how you can address the foundational issues in your home. 

However, most other homes can get away with strategically picking the correct kind of flooring. This can help prevent damage in your basement while still remaining fully functional. To do this, start by doing a moisture check in your basement to assess just how badly the flooding problem is. 

How To Do a Moisture Check

Before you install any kind of flooring in your basement, you need to do a moisture check. If your basement isn’t resisting moisture properly, you’ll need to get a dehumidifier and call a professional for advice before you lay down any flooring. Issues with moisture can cause problems with bacteria build-up, mold, and water damage to your subfloors. 

To do a moisture check, all you have to do is lay a plastic sheet, roughly 2 feet by 4 feet, on your floor. If you don’t have extra plastic sheets, use a clear garbage bag and cut that open. 

Next, lay your plastic sheet down on the floor and tape down its edges. In 24 to 48 hours, remove the tape and inspect the plastic sheet. 

Check for moisture on the plastic, black marks on your floor, and other signs of mold and mildew such as smells. If there are signs of moisture resistance or mildew, you’ll need to contact a professional contractor before you lay down floors. 

The Best Option To Waterproof Your Basement

When deciding which flooring is best for your basement, you need to consider things like what you’re using the basement for and what your budget is. 

Depending on your budget and how your basement is resisting moisture, you may be limited to what you can use for your basement’s flooring. 

Start by deciding what you’re going to use your basement for. If your basement is just for storage, you don’t have to be too concerned about your floor’s look and feel. However, if this will eventually become a gym, playroom, or home theatre, you’ll want to consider other important factors on top of how well the floor will resist water damage. When choosing your flooring, consider a floor’s:

  • Look
  • Feel
  • Durability 
  • Price 
  • Water resistance 

Later in this article, we’ll use this to rank our top basement flooring choices. 

Regardless, if your basement will eventually be turned into a fully functioning living space, you’ll need the most water-proof option regardless of how well your basement resists water because basements are often prone to moisture issues and flooding. Many cheap and easy-to-install options won’t hold up to these problems. 

Here are some of our suggestions for your basement’s flooring based on what you want to use the space for. 

Family Rooms and Playrooms

basement playroom with luxury vinyl and rubber mats

If you’re using your basement for a family room, playroom, or any other recreational space, you’ll want flooring that’s durable and comfortable. These floors not only need to endure a lot of traffic and wear from play but will also need to be comfortable and warm enough. Generally, most homeowners will likely want an attractive-looking floor in these spaces as well.  

For basement family and playrooms, you’ll likely need either a luxury vinyl or a ceramic tile option. Both of these options are very attractive and can withstand moisture. Luxury vinyl will be warmer and more comfortable than ceramic tile, but the tile will resist water damage better. 

In our experience, although both these options will still be cold, they are softer than epoxy or stained concrete. You can also warm up your space with area rugs and rubber mats. Any rug or rubber mat will be much cheaper to replace than an entire carpet if your basement floods. Although carpet will be warmer, basements prone to flooding won’t do well with carpet, as carpet is more prone to mold bacteria growth. 

We’ll go over how to make luxury vinyl more comfortable, warmer, and less prone to water damage. 

Home Gyms and Yoga Studios

in-home gym with rubber mats as flooring

Dedicating your basement to an in-home gym or yoga studio is a great option if your basement tends to flood. There are lots of options that are thankfully incredibly water-resistant and work perfectly for gyms. 

The best option for an at-home fitness room like this is to use rubber flooring. Rubber flooring is water-resistant and is also what most professional gyms use for flooring. It’s very comfortable and sturdy enough for floor work and yoga. 

Other options you can use for a space like this include epoxy or stained concrete. Although both these options are hard and cold, you’ll likely be wearing shoes while working out, which won’t be as much of a concern. Epoxy and concrete are also super easy to clean and mop up. If you’re going to be sweating all over your floor, you’ll need to be able to clean up easily.

Offices and Home Studios

in-home office or studio with concrete flooring. A young disabled woman sits at a desk and works on her laptop.

Many people now work from home, and the basement is a good way to separate your workspace from the rest of your home. For home offices and studios, consider epoxy, stained concrete, or floor paint. These are the easiest options to install and are the most water-resistant. Although they won’t be the warmest or most comfortable option for your feet, your floors will have a more “professional work environment” feel. 

For those of you who often bring clients into your office for a consultation, your home studio won’t feel like it’s in your leaky basement. Instead, you can decorate your office or studio into an industrial-style workspace. Luxury vinyl can still work in a space like this, but if there’s high foot traffic coming through, it’ll be harder for you to clean up easily.  

If you’re an artist or craftsman, stained concrete and epoxy are super durable options. Whether you’re a painter or woodworker, your in-home shop needs durable flooring for everything your floors will need to endure. 

Extra Storage (Best Option For The Leakest Basements!)

If you’re using your basement for extra storage, any kind of flooring will do. However, the best flooring that can withstand the moisture and flooding your basement often experiences will be stained concrete or epoxy. Since your basement is only for storage purposes, invest more of your budget into custom shelving. 

If your basement often floods or you have issues with moisture resistance on your floors, using your basement purely for storage is the safest option. You will need shelves high enough off the ground so that your belongings won’t be damaged. 

Until you have a professional flood-proof your basement, you’re limited to what you can use as flooring. However, this doesn’t mean your basement is completely useless. There are some things you can do to minimize flooding in your basement, and it starts with your floors. 

What To With Basements That Often Flood

If your basement floods often, it’s imperative that you consult with a professional. Having water penetrate your home’s foundation can not only cause health issues for everyone living in the space, but it will eventually eat away at your home’s structural integrity. 

After your basement floods, you’ll first need to remove all the old and damaged flooring. After cleaning the subflooring, allow the floors to fully dry. It’s important to allow your floors to fully dry before you install any new flooring into the basement, even if you’re just using stained concrete or epoxy. 

There are a few other basic things you can do to stop your basement from flooding again and help better resist moisture. 

  • Leveling your floors will prevent water from pooling in certain areas. It’s important to do this before you add any kind of flooring above your subfloors. You can either grind down old floors or add more concrete to areas that pool. 
  • Make sure your floor is structurally sound before you add any kind of flooring. There should be no cracks or crumbling in your subfloor. As we mentioned, water can eat away at your home’s structure and can cause a multitude of very expensive problems.
  • Maintain dryness by testing the moisture levels and using a dehumidifier. The level of dryness in your basement will determine what kind of flooring is best suited for your basement. 
  • Consider radiant heating to warm your basement and prevent moisture build-up. Not all flooring options do well with heating, so be sure to consult with a contractor before you install.

Types of Flooring To Install In Basements    

It’s important to research what kind of floors you’re going to install in your basement. Now that you know what the best options are for what you’re intending on doing to your basement, it’s time to go into some more detail about each of our suggestions. 

We rated each of these options by the biggest concerns homeowners will face with basements that flood often. In each of these options, we’ll go over a material’s:

  • Look
  • Feel
  • Durability 
  • Price 
  • Water resistance

Luxury Vinyl

This is a very popular option that’s widely available in almost any hardware store. Luxury vinyl looks amazing and is around $2 to $7 per square foot. If your basement has minimal issues with moisture and flooding, you can use waterproof luxury vinyl. 

Not all vinyl is made the same. There are some options out there that won’t withstand water the way you’ll need it to.

vinyl planks damaged due to flooding
Luxury vinyl planks with water damage.

Also Read: Home Depot’s Lifeproof Vinyl Review 

If you apply a cork underlayment to your floors, your luxury vinyl will resist water better. However, as far as our top recommendations go, luxury vinyl is the least durable when it comes to water resistance. As you can see from our example, luxury vinyl can bubble, peel, and discolor after substantial flooding. With this being one of the more expensive options to replace after sustaining water damage, it may not be worth it in some cases. 

Sheet Vinyl

Sheet vinyl is relatively easy to install but will show seams and bubbles if not properly installed. Although you should repair any irregularities from water damage before you install any flooring over your subfloors, sheet vinyl will show this evidence the most. You will need a very large roll for your basement, which can be hard to maneuver and install if you’re an amateur. 

As far as price goes, sheet vinyl is definitely our most affordable option. You can find options from $0.75 to $4 per foot in a variety of styles. Keep in mind that although there’s a wide variety, it still doesn’t compare to the look of luxury vinyl or even plank vinyl. You’re also limited to what you can choose, as you need an entirely waterproof product. 

Sheet vinyl is made from plastic. It was a popular choice in kitchens and bathrooms in the 70s all the way up to the 90s because of its water-resistant design. However, this doesn’t mean that it can withstand flooding and frequent moisture issues. Sheet vinyl can become moldy and can curl if it’s not specifically made to be waterproof. 

Rubber 

Rubber is one of the best materials for basements prone to floods. It’s amazing for home gyms, yoga studios, and makes a super safe and comfortable playroom. Unlike these other materials, rubber doesn’t necessarily need an adhesive to be installed, making it the easiest out of all our options to install. 

Rubber is totally impervious to water and water damage. It can easily wick away moisture and bacteria. This means that it’s highly unlikely to have any issues with mold. 

The biggest downside is that rubber can discolor if not cleaned properly, it has a very distinct smell, and it can be quite expensive- ranging from $3 to $6 per square foot. 

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is not susceptible to mold or mildew and can easily resist moisture. The grout can develop mold and can be hard to clean. With regular maintenance and a yearly deep clean, it shouldn’t be too hard for you to maintain the grout and tiles. You can also apply a water-resistant sealant, which will further protect your tiles. 

Ceramic tile is very hard and cold. You could easily solve this with area rugs, or rubber mats if you want a more waterproof solution. 

Ceramic tiles cost between $2 to $4 per square foot if you install it on your own. Unless you’re confident in your tile-laying skills, you might want to hire a professional to install ceramic tiles.  

Epoxy and Stained Concrete

Epoxy and stained concrete are waterproof, highly resistant to bacteria and mold, and is very easy to clean. For an extra layer of protection on concrete, you should use an epoxy finish on top of your concrete, as this helps minimize damage. 

There are many colors available in these materials. Epoxy only costs around $3 to $7 per square foot to install and is the most long-lasting option of all our picks. 

On the downside, your floors will always be cold and the epoxy will leave a distinct ammonia smell. The smell will eventually leave over time, thankfully. 

However, if your moisture is coming from your concrete subfloor, you shouldn’t immediately opt for pouring epoxy over it. You need to handle the access moisture issues beforehand. Otherwise, you risk damaging the epoxy, concrete, and foundation of your home. 

Free Quotes For Bsement Flooring Installation

Before you jump into installing floors on your own or even with a contractor, be sure to ask around for a few quotes first. You don’t need to commit to a contractor right away, but asking for multiple estimates and opinions will help you make a more informed decision.

If you want to skip reading through endless reviews and just want a quick quote, call Home Service Stars to talk to a local partnered contractor in your area. 


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