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Basement Flooring

Carpet, Linoleum, and Ceramic are Top Basement Floor Options, While an Optional Underlayment Adds Comfort

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When finishing your basement, one of the most important decisions to make is what type of floor to install. There are many options available, each with its own set of strengths. Home Improvement Educator breaks down the most common basement flooring choices and their associated costs in this comprehensive buying guide.

Types of Basement Flooring

Bear in mind that you are not limited to just one of the following flooring types in the basement (for example, it might make sense to install ceramic tile in an entranceway and carpet in other areas).

  • Carpet: Many homeowners choose carpet for their basement. Not only does the material feel extremely comfortable underfoot, but it also adds an additional layer of insulation to the floor.
  • Vinyl and Linoleum: These two flooring options stand up well to heavy traffic as well as spills and stains. If you have pets and/or children, vinyl and linoleum are two of the better flooring options on the market.
  • Wood Flooring: Few materials are more durable than hardwood or engineered wood flooring. Both come in a wide variety of wood species, colors, and sizes (thickness and width) to suit any decor.
  • Ceramic Tile: Ceramic tiles are a fantastic choice for basements with radiant floor heating systems or other ambient heating elements such as a fireplace. Without one of these, however, ceramic tile installed above concrete tends to be cold underfoot.

Basement Flooring Considerations

  • Before a basement floor is installed, the basement should be dry and free of any leaks or moisture. If your basement has a problem with running or standing water, contact a basement waterproofing company.
  • Chances are good that your subfloor is a concrete slab, which is porous and allows cold air and moisture in from the outside. Without proper insulation, most basement floors are uncomfortable to walk on. An un-insulated floor can also cause heating bills to skyrocket in the colder months.
  • A number of underlayment products are available that create a barrier between the concrete and the floor. Another option is to build a wooden subfloor consisting of wood framing and plywood. In this scenario, wood effectively replaces concrete as the subfloor and provides additional insulation.

Basement Flooring Costs

  • Carpet costs $4 to $12 per square foot, including installation, depending on the carpeting material and style.
  • Expect vinyl and linoleum to cost $2 to $7 per square foot installed. Economic vinyl options are at the lower end of the spectrum, while high-end vinyl is the most expensive. Linoleum is a midrange product, costing between $3 and $5 per square foot.
  • Hardwood flooring generally costs $6 to $20 per square foot with installation. The species and thickness of the wood play major roles in pricing.
  • Engineered wood flooring is priced similarly to hardwood; expect to pay $6 to $20 per square foot installed.
  • Insulating underlayment can add $100 to $500 to the total project cost depending on the size of the basement and the quality of the materials.
  • Installing a wood subfloor over an existing concrete slab will raise total costs by $500 to $1,000 according to the total square footage covered.
  • Please note that actual prices will vary depending on the area of the country you live in.

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