December 9, 2021
How to Revive Your Basement’s Concrete Floor
The average basement floor is concrete, utilitarian, and unfinished. While concrete basement floors offer a timeless, minimalistic look, they don’t fit all design aesthetics. There are many ways to keep the great benefits of concrete (easy maintenance and durability), while updating the look of your floors. One way to refresh the look of your old basement floor is to refinish it. You also have the option of installing something over the concrete during a basement remodel.
Below we’ve listed our best basement flooring options so you can revive the lowest level of your home from the ground up.
Basement Flooring Options
There are many options for reviving your existing concrete floor or topping it with something else, including:
- Stained concrete
- Concrete overlays and epoxies
- Luxury vinyl plank flooring or regular vinyl flooring
- Heated porcelain or ceramic tile floors
- Cork flooring
- Carpet tiles or wall to wall carpet
- Engineered or solid hardwood
- Laminate flooring
- Rubber flooring
The first few basement flooring options will revive concrete that you already have. The other flooring options can be considered if you’re ready to move on from concrete flooring.
How to Choose the Best Basement Flooring for Your Home
The best flooring for basements depends entirely on your usage and needs.
If you live in a damp climate like the Pacific Northwest, covering an existing concrete floor with carpet or hardwood floors may not be the best choice. Instead, look for moisture-resistant or waterproof products that meet your cost, comfort, durability, appearance, and installation objectives. A flooring installation professional or showroom salesperson can help you narrow down the choices.
Before making a final decision, consider factors like your home’s age, history of basement plumbing repairs, the condition of the existing concrete slab, and potential for flooding or mold growth. Now that you’ve considered your needs, it’s time to explore the basement flooring options.
Staining a Basement Floor
Your first impulse might be to stain the existing floor a different color. This option depends on how your concrete looks and if it was stained in the past. Unfinished concrete tends to act like a sponge and soak up everything it’s exposed to, including a penetrating sealant or stain. Any stain applied to your basement floor in the past will dictate its coloration forever, so if you already have marks (paint, wine, or other dark spills) or the floor was previously professionally stained, a new stain ay not achieve your desired look.
The old color is permanent and cannot be changed without investing a lot of time and money. It requires expensive equipment (mechanical grinder, HEPA vacuum for toxic dust particles, etc.) and should be left to the pros if you decide to go that route.
If your concrete is relatively new and/or unmarked, then a stain may help breathe new life into the space. It will create a fade-resistant, permanent color to act as the starting point for your basement design. You can choose subtle hints of color, bold mixes, and even custom graphics. There are endless possibilities. When having your floor professionally re-stained, consider a luxurious polished finish for a more refined look.
Basement Concrete Floor Overlay
A concrete overlay is another attractive way to update your basement floor and is gaining popularity. A concrete overlay is essentially a top layer of concrete that is poured over your existing foundation. This overlay can help level your basement and repair any imperfections that were there. It offers a more smooth, sophisticated surface that works much better with a wide variety of design styles. In other words, it feels “finished” instead of industrial.
In addition to looking great, the benefits of a concrete overlay include minimal maintenance, strength, and durability. Like stains, you can also customize a concrete overlay in various colors and patterns. You can even have the overlay stamped or stenciled, as well as choose from different finishes in varying degrees of shine or texture.
Some concrete overlays replicate the look of natural stone at a fraction of the cost. Or create a more minimalistic space by keeping your floor a solid, polished gray. Many Seattle homeowners choose to keep their overlay neutral. The downsides to a concrete overlay floor may include: being cool to the touch, needing to be resealed in the future, and the potential of cracking over time.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring for the Basement
If your basement gets a lot of foot traffic (kids, pets, etc.) and is a main living space in your home, a luxury vinyl plank (LVP) floor is a great choice. LVP is referred to interchangeably as Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVF). Luxury vinyl is softer and warmer on the foot than concrete. When installed in a moisture-prone basement, a free-floating luxury vinyl floor also withstands spills and natural moisture very well. It’s not completely waterproof like sheets of vinyl, but still works very well as a durable basement flooring option!
Available in numerous colors and styles, a high-quality luxury vinyl plank in a natural hue will wear very well—providing you with years of low-maintenance enjoyment. Most of today’s luxury vinyl is almost indecipherable from hardwood and at a much lower price point.
Heated Porcelain or Ceramic Tile Floors
Tile is a waterproof flooring material that often easily installs over concrete and is still very durable. Tile styles and colors are limitless and can be highly customized to your home design.
Porcelain and ceramic tiles conduct radiant heat well and can be installed with a floor heating system below them. There are many benefits to heated floors, most noticeably it will help keep a cool basement that much warmer. Tile floors retain warmth long after the heating system turns off, so they are efficient too!
Marmoleum Basement Flooring
It’s not your grandparents’ linoleum anymore! Marmoleum is an environmentally friendly, kid-safe flooring material. Marmoleum Click is a snap-together product made from natural ingredients that quickly reach room temperature, providing a comfortable, year-round surface for walking and playing. Regular Marmoleum should be professionally installed, and can even be sealed for additional longevity.
Marmoleum comes in a wide variety of colors and designs, giving you creative flexibility within any décor. It’s durable, eco-friendly, and warmer on the feet than bare concrete. In addition to its practicality, a Marmoleum floor is a healthier choice for household members with allergies or asthma too!
When installing a Marmoleum floor, you will need to put down a moisture barrier first. With all its positives, a Marmoleum Click floor is not suitable for every basement, including those with high humidity or floors that are uneven, pitched or bumpy.
Cork Flooring for the Basement
Cork is exceptionally quiet underfoot, environmentally friendly, comfortable and serves as a natural thermal insulator, so it makes for wonderful basement flooring. Typical skepticism includes: it’s not going to last, it going to dent, etc. While cork flooring is less common, it’s gaining in popularity fast for it’s numerous benefits. Cork flooring is sealed to prevent moisture absorption and staining. Sometimes, it can even be refinished like hardwood can.
Take one gander at the selection of cork they have in the store and you’ll see just how versatile cork can be. Colors, patterns and hues can all play a factor into the look of cork. Some of the colored cork doesn’t even resemble cork, but rather a tile or painted floor—with plenty of added comfort. Cork flooring patterns are natural and geometric at the same time, for those looking for an edgier option.
What to Look for in a Basement Remodeling Company
Finding the best contractor for your basement remodeling project is essential. Choose a contractor that specializes in the style you’re looking for and has worked on similar projects before. Do your research, ask for references, get written estimates, and check online reviews posted on Yelp, Google, or Houzz.
At Model Remodel, we are design-build contractors who’ve built a solid reputation in the Seattle area by transforming outdated homes into highly functional, luxurious living spaces with our conception-to-completion home remodeling solutions. We’ve remodeled dozens of basements, from home gyms to mother-in-law suites to family game rooms. To get started bringing your basement remodel to life, tell us more about your objectives today via our online form.