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What is the best flooring for a basement?


A basement can make up around one third of the floorspace in a home. The cost of finishing a basement can be half the cost of putting an addition (of smaller space) on the house, and can provide a greater raise on the resale value. A finished basement can be more than just semi-trustworthy storage space and a storm refuge. It can be a play room, a game room, a gym, a family room, a home theater, a full apartment or a home office. It can be anything any room can be, perhaps even an entire floor of rooms, the basic structure of which is already built. Just looking at the pros, it seems strange that unfinished basements would be so common. The problem is not that the cons are insurmountable, just that they are daunting enough to feel insurmountable, or at least not worth the trouble. But look what you get! So we’re going to help you get started with what we think might be the most difficult part of the process, finding the right kind of flooring for your basement.


Vinyl Plank Flooring

The Best Basement Flooring Is Right This Way

The two main issues, in reverse order of importance, are the coldness of the slab of cement which makes up the bottom of your basement, and the inevitable moisture issues which come with basements. When around the installation of flooring, you will hear talk of “the subfloor“. Usually this is the structural part of your house to which the flooring you want to walk on will be attached. In your basement, that’s probably going to be a big slab of poured concrete, underneath which is the Earth itself. In some climates, for some of the year, it will be cooler than some bare feet like to walk on. If you have radiant floor heating, then this is a non-issue, otherwise the best way to handle the temperature, if even it is a concern, is to add another subfloor to the top of the concrete. We’ll call it a super-subfloor to distinguish the two (that’s super as in “above”, and this is definitely not an industry term, so don’t quote us hoping to sound informed). Not only the material itself, but any air space it creates between itself and the concrete, to say nothing of insulation which might fill that space, will help your top flooring stay warm. Now this super-subfloor will be subject to the same moisture issues as your regular flooring.


photo by Literature - No real name given

We can’t say enough about the issue of moisture. If you think your basement is waterproof and dry year round, even during record-breaking storms, you should still have it professionally tested before proceeding as such. Then, even if you get the thumbs up, you should still act with caution, assuming that everything going into your basement needs to be able to handle moisture and water. You see, with a basement we don’t only concern ourselves with moisture drifting in through the concrete from outside. We have to prepare for condensation from general temperature differences and water heaters, also leaks from dish or clothes washers, defrosting refrigerators, iceboxes left cracked open and installed sinks or tubs. Then there are plumbing leaks, to say nothing of burst pipes, and any flooding issue upstairs affecting the downstairs. It is almost best to assume that some day your basement will be wet, or at least very moist.

What this means is that in general we want to keep away from flooring made of organic material. Anything organic will be a source of food for mold and similar allergens that can get a start with moisture. If we follow this advice, we rule out anything made of wood, including most laminates and Oriented Strand Board (called “OSB”, used for subfloors), any organic carpeting and some padding. We should also not install a super-subfloor that sits directly on the concrete, face to face. This can trap moisture. We will need a moisture barrier between any super-subfloor and your concrete.

photo by Eric Schmuttenmaer

Our recommendations will be for an imagined basement where the surface temperature, if an issue, will be taken care of, but moisture will remain a threat.

The Best Options


Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl Plank Flooring

(and related products like Vinyl Composite Tile [VCT], linoleum and marmoleum)

Vinyl flooring is relatively inexpensive, and basically made of plastic, so most of it is 100% waterproof. If you want to see a demonstration, check out our Aquarium Test video.

Our highest recommendation goes to Vinyl Plank Flooring, which has advanced to have amazing wood looks. Vinyl plank flooring can be click-together, just like laminate, or Loose Lay, which makes installation, repair and plank replacement even easier. Both are 100% waterproof. If you have regularly occurring, standing water, Loose Lay is probably the very best option because regular cleaning under the planks is SO easy. Padding and moisture barriers are usually not recommended, and definitely not needed with these floors.

Vinyl is also available in rolls, the first form in which it was sold, also requiring adhesion to an additional subfloor, and slightly more difficult to repair (to say nothing of replace) than the tiles. Since it is a printed floor, the look can be anything from wood to stone to checkerboard – anything that can be photographed (and marketable).

Ceramic and Porcelain Tile

These are as beautiful as they are expensive. Being made of stone, they are almost as water resistant as vinyl, and the tiles can be replaced individually, easing repair. Using larger tiles can make a smaller area look more roomy. Installation is very time intensive, and will get messy. There must be no cracks in the concrete, and it must be perfectly level, or your top flooring will crack. Its one moisture issue comes with the grout. Moisture can seep, and mold can grow, in grout lines. If you’ve raised a super-subfloor above your concrete with a moisture barrier to reduce coldness underfoot, this shouldn’t ever become a problem.

Dal-Tile Cream Porcelain Tile 12 x 12 Marazzi Piazza Vita Elegante Grigio 6 in. x 24 in. Glazed Porcelain Floor Tile Marazzi American Estate Saddle 6x36 Porcelain Wood Plank Tile ULCE Dal-Tile Ivory Porcelain Tile 12 x 12


Directly Coating the Cement

This is the cheapest option, and leaves you with nothing to be affected by moisture, no flooring to warp or rot, you can have any color you want, and it’s easy to apply. Can you paint a wall? Then you can paint a floor. Staining concrete is a touch more difficult, but allows more creativity via acid-etching. You can put some elaborate designs on your floor if you go the staining route.

photo by Engrave-A-Crete

With stain, make sure the sealant applied on top can cope with the “hydrostatic pressure” from rising water beneath the concrete or it will loosen and peel. With paint peeling (and chipping) may just be inevitable over the years, depending on the traffic, requiring touch ups and repainting. There are also refinishing epoxies, sometimes called garage coatings, which are troweled onto a floor. The downsides to these are that installation is going to be a messy affair, the floor will be the temperature of the concrete, and in the case of staining there is a waiting period while it cures.

Rubber Tiles

These are also sold for garages, but can work in a basement as well. They lock together and lay on the floor. If you don’t put down a moisture barrier, water may collect underneath, but the tiles are non-organic, so you don’t have as much risk of mold. You would just have to take them up occasionally, let the floor and tiles dry, and lay them back down. Rubber tiles are squashy, so they will add a tremendous amount of comfort to your walk.

In the next post, we’ll go over the less recommended options. Some can be done in certain circumstances and with special care, and some should just be avoided. We’ll tell you why we think what we think in What are the Worst Floors for a Basement?.

As this is the blog of Floors To Your Home, not Walls To Your Home or Armoires To Your Home, we must limit our advice to our special area. So where do you go for tips and information about walls, counters, lighting, all the other things a room needs to be complete? Who’s the best in those areas?

– – – –
David is a Writer at Floors To Your Home (.com), as well as the PPC Manager, a Marketing Strategy Team member, a Researcher, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jitō. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’) and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on W. David Lichty’s Google+



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Basement Floors

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More basement information:
What are the WORST floors for a basement?
Best Flooring For A Flooding-Prone Basement
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David is a Writer at Floors To Your Home (.com), as well as the PPC Manager, a Marketing Strategy Team member, a Researcher, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jitō. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in 'play with Beatles multi-tracks') and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on W. David Lichty's Google+

Posted in Vinyl Flooring, waterproof, Which Floor for Which Room? Tagged with: , , , ,
50 comments on “What is the best flooring for a basement?
  1. J says:

    Hello, I would like to convert our garage to a family room/ recreation room and I found this site

    I am contemplating on purchasing the vinyl dance floor. What are your thoughts regarding this flooring system for our garage?

    thank you for your time and I found your blog informative.

  2. David says:

    Hi, J,

    I asked our guy Adam about your situation. He answered:

    Hey David,
    The product they are looking at seems to be a good product and would work in their area. Although, since it is designed to be a dance type of floor costs will be a lot higher than using one of our products. Our Tuff Guy glue down vinyl would be a great choice with the styles we carry, even if they are using it for a dance floor. Other than that any of our laminates would be a great choice too.

  3. Christy says:

    Love, love, love your Blog! Very helpful!
    We are planning to finish our 90 year old unfinished concrete basement this spring! It has 4 separated rooms that I want to be a playroom/craft room/workout room with a small kitchen space. I want to paint the floors since they were originally “saw cut” to look like huge tiles. Can you recommend a good, lasting floor paint that’s right for basements?
    Thanks in advance for your response!

    • David says:

      Hi, Christy, sorry for the delay. I asked our experts, and the consensus is that the best thing we can do is to have you ask a concrete or paint specialist. We don’t deal in any concrete itself, but rather the things some lay over it – vinyl, laminate and such. We’re far enough from experts that we don’t want to give you poor advice (or just poke around the internet – which anyone can do!). I recommend that you check with both a business that handles cement flooring, and a paint specialist, and compare their advice to get the best possible answer. I’m sorry we can’t be much more directly helpful ourselves.

  4. Steve says:

    My wife and I are redoing a basement apartment, and we were told there is a new hardwood option for basements (we were given a sample labled “styleselections featuring Swiftlock Technology”) that is coated at the bottom to prevent moisture from warping the wood. We were told it doesn’t require a subfloor. Have you heard of this? If so, do you have any opinion of it? If not, does it sound feasible?


    • David says:

      Hi, Steve,

      Because we’ve only handled Swiftlock as an overstock purchase, I’ve done some searching online. It’s not been as fruitful as I’d like because of the prevalence of the term “Laminate Wood Flooring”. I needed to see if Swiftlock sells, or even engages with, hardwood at all, and the answer seems to be no, they don’t. Swiftlock makes laminate flooring, not hardwood, and no hardwood we can find has a special coating on the bottom.

      I think you were given confused information, and the person was actually referring to a laminate product. It is a basic part of laminate production to make the bottom layer, called the “backing board,” out of moisture resistant, dimensionally stable (there’s your warp protection) material, usually a melamine plastic. I have a piece on its construction here:


      Your question about subfloors confused me a bit. Most every floor you walk on has a subfloor – wood, concrete, or something like that – under it. I wonder if you were asking whether you would need to put an additional subfloor (of wood, for instance) over concrete? This is often recommended when one installs engineered hardwood in a basement. For laminates (like Swiftlock), which are usually floating floors, it generally isn’t suggested. What you need is an even, flat surface, and a pad with a moisture barrier underneath it. Some of those issues are illustrated here:


      If your interest is in putting hardwood in your basement, then Engineered Hardwood is the only option – no solid is recommended to be installed below ground level. Some basics on that can be found here:


      I know I’m tossing a lot out there, but hope I’ve come close to helping out.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Stumbled across your blog from Google and wondering if you have a suggestion for my basement. I am in the process of redoing the whole thing, but the floor is a bit of a mystery. I’m assuming it is vinyl tile down there (house was built in 1963) and there are at least 3 different layers of tile (vinyl? peel and stick? don’t know). Someone said I shouldn’t take it up because there might be asbestos, and there are some spots where pieces are missing, and someone suggested I put concrete patch down. I would like to try a basement epoxy kit like Rust-Oleum makes, but not sure if it would stick to tile. I’m trying to do this as inexpensive and easily as possible, so any suggestions/tips are greatly appreciated!

  6. Cynthia says:

    Hi. I’m thinking of putting down vinyl planks in my basement. Currently there is a pad and carpet which for the most part has worked well. I had some slight flooding in one corner so I pulled up the carpet removed and replaced the pad and sealed a crack in the concrete floor. I have not had a problem since but who knows I’ve only been here a year. So anyway I was leaning toward the vinyl planks but I read one review which worries me. They said they had problems with the seals staying down and ended up removing the floor only after eight months. The part that worries me is the moisture and mold they said they found under the vinyl. Because it is so water proof it does not breathe and the moisture is trapped between the cement and the flooring. I realize if you don’t have organic flooring there is nothing to grown but after several years of carpeting on the cocrete I’m sure there will be enough organic crud to grow. Any opinions would be helpful.

    • David says:

      Hello, Cynthia,

      Hopefully you no longer have this problem, but If you do have an ongoing water issue in the basement, there is no floor covering (vinyl, laminate, carpet) which will seal that off, keeping the water out if you will. Basement moisture is going to affect any flooring you put down, so the goal is to find the one which will best help you deal with it when or if it happens. With hardwood, laminate and carpet, the material itself can be directly damaged by the water, necessitating some replacement materials. With 100% waterproof vinyl planks or tiles, the planks themselves are not harmed, which solves one of the problems.

      You had a concern about mold, and you are right to have it. Unfortunately, it is not just reliant upon organic material present on your cement before laying your floor covering, but on mold spores present in the air. So even if you bleached your entire basement, floor, walls and ceiling (please don’t!) before laying the floor, water issues could still lead to mold, even under vinyl, which has no organic material in it.

      What this brings up is the need to attend to, in your case, a corner of the basement, should a water issue happen. You would want flooring that is easy to lift up and put back down. When I wrote this article, our click together vinyl planks were the best option, and had become one of our best sellers in the 9 months that we’d had it. At that time, we had yet had no complaints about the material, so we were pretty confident about it (we have had exactly one since then, now a year later – still pretty confident). I’ll be honest, even we were surprised by how well people liked it.

      What we did not have last year, and what might be best for your situation, is loose lay vinyl plank. That link goes to my introductory blog post, explaining it with words and videos. If your corner was to act up again, with a click together you might need to uninstall a good deal of flooring, possibly all of it, in order to get to the wet cement and deal with the issue. With loose lay, you can pull up just the planks in the corner and dry your floor, or just check on it, or if you need to, regularly lift up enough flooring to dry it as needed, and keep mold from getting a chance to grow.

  7. chris bullock says:

    About 5 years ago we installed new carpet and pad in our bsmt. I have noticed a very musty odor in the bsmt. our house is not very old, 16 years old. My thought is that we made a mistake in putting carpet in the bsmt but what to do now? I have been reading that putting carpet was not a good idea. Have any ideas or do we need to replace it with something made for bsmts?

    • David says:

      Adam wrote: It sounds like there is moisture coming into the basement and soaked into the padding of the carpet. Very possible that is where the musty smell is coming from. If moisture is going to be a repeat problem, sounds like the Freedom Loose lay may be the best option. With that material you can easily go right to the place that has the issue and pull up planks, dry it all out, and then just lay them back in place. With the Elite Waterproof Click Flooring, you would have to take up planks from the wall over to the affected area to dry and then replace that much again once the wetness is solved. But either would be a good option, just the Loose Lay may be a tad easier.
      I hope this helps!

      David replied: Thanks, Adam. That answers what should he use (or should have used). Is there any answer for him – aside from pull it up and replace it – for what he should do with what he has now? I want to be as helpful with him as we can if there is anything, some treatment or humidity trick, whatever it might be.

      Adam responded: He can possible try using a de-humidifier to see if that helps. Other than that, the only good way is to make sure it is all dried up. Once dried, he can go to the local home store and see about some concrete sealer, but I would recommend having a professional come to inspect the concrete before doing anything like that.
      Adam Long

  8. Devin Adint says:

    What about the faux wood ceramic tile vs faux wood fiberglass for a basement?

    • David says:

      Fiberglass can be a component in what we’re calling vinyl flooring. Some of our vinyl plank floors have fiberglass in their makeup. If you look up fiberglass flooring, large sheet vinyl products will pop up in the search results. The main issues with basements being moisture, we don’t recommend a big glue down floor. While spills and leaks would be well handled, any moisture coming up under the flooring, or getting around the edges near the walls, would at least corrode the glue, and worse – develop mold in your house. The only fiberglass we would connect you with would be the vinyl planks, gone over (and pictured in their wood looks!) above. Both those and ceramic floors are great options for handling the moisture issues. The lead goes to vinyl plank flooring because it’s less expensive, easier to install, and the actual wood looks are presently better with the vinyl.

  9. Candy says:

    We wanted to know the brand you use. I like the picture you have on this site. I basement flooded for the first time in 33 years. We had carpeting and are changing to laminate flooring that looks like wood. One question we have a large pool table will it hold the pool table without denting?

    • David says:

      We carry a few of brands of laminate at Floors To Your Home. I don’t have a picture of any laminates on this page because we don’t consider it one of the best basement floors. Laminates aren’t good with flooding. Now, if it takes 33 years for a flood, then this may not be a concern for you. All of our laminates should handle the weight of a pool table without denting, though you should use little floor protectors anyway (if only for scratching as the table shifts). If you’re really concerned about durability, check the AC Ratings of any laminate you buy. That link goes to a page explaining the testing process, if you want to look into it. Most of our products are rated AC3, which is the highest rating for any residential use, but some are even rated AC4. That’s a rating for commercial use, tougher than AC3’s. This link goes to our AC4 products. I hope this helps!

  10. Troy says:

    Great blog. Our basement is graded toward a drain. We are considering vinyl planks but have concern over this unevenness of the subfloor. Do you have any recommendations for flooring that would be best on graded floors/uneven spots? Thanks.

    • David says:

      Hi, Troy,

      For most floors there is a small tolerance for unevenness. Over a 10 foot span from any point, let’s say your drain, if the flooring has less than a 1/16″ to 1/8″ grading then you’re fine with almost any kind of flooring, possibly excepting larger ceramic tiles. Vinyl planks of any kind should handle that. If the grading is more than that, for vinyl tiles you would want to avoid click together, because the locking mechanisms could disengage as you walk over them in those areas. Our suggestion would be a loose lay vinyl product. It’s the most pliable, best to conform to a curve. A glue down version would be best overall, to ensure those planks don’t form tiny ridges where they meet each other.

      Now, this has been popular stuff with us, so as I write we have under 2,000 square feet in stock, but we also have a few truckloads coming in the next week or two. I didn’t want you to be shocked if you followed my link after this recommendation.

  11. Laurel says:

    You have made a common mistake. You referred to Marmoleum or linoleum as not being a natural product made entirely of plastic. Nothing could be further from the truth. Lino (not vinyl) is 100% natural made of wood sap, linseed oil, wood flour, cork dust, and minerals such as calcium carbonate on a burlap or canvas back. I believe that despite it being a natural product, the ingredients in it create a natural antiseptic environment which would discourage mould growth. You’ll need to check that out.

    Vinyl on the other hand is a toxic outgassing, and you were correct, plastic to which nothing will grow. So you avoid mould while poisoning yourself with vinyl fumes.

  12. Ron and Ruth says:

    What floor preparation has to be made before using the Vinyl Plank Flooring?
    i.e. Can it be laid on top of the concrete? If so, how does the concrete need to be prepared?
    If a super-subfloor needs to be installed, what is best method?

    • David says:

      Floor prep mainly involves some moisture testing, and leveling, the same kind you would do with any floor. With other flooring, you test H2O to keep the flooring itself from absorbing the moisture. With these, it’s to keep the moisture from building up under the flooring. The vinyl is waterproof, but you could still get a mold issue with unchecked moisture. All flooring needs to be laid upon level subfloors, though vinyl is more forgiving than the more rigid wood or laminate planks. If there are specific areas where there is a dip, say toward a drain, the Loose Lay floors can be glued down, just in those areas.

      That said, no padding is needed underneath – it lays or clicks right over the concrete. As with any floor, you need to read the specific directions, so we include them on every product page.

  13. Dawn Haines says:

    Hi, looking for some guidance, we have undertaken the redo of our basement, carpet pulled up and built a bedroom, now we are on the the floor. We had hoped to put in a Wood Laminate, however when they came to look at the floor they determined that the floor was not level enough some areas 4/16 and some 5/16 (I do not really understand this) I was originally told that only the 5/16 area would need to be raised and now I am being told that the entire area would need to be leveled, thus turning a $2000 project into a $4000 project. 2 questions for you… 1- what grade is ok to install laminate and 2 – what other options are there? I know there is vinyl – however I have not seen a vinyl that I really like perhaps where can I find a nicer looking better quality vinyl.

    The basement does not have any moisture issues.

    thank you

    • David says:

      Hi, Dawn,

      1- what grade is ok to install laminate

      What the contractor means by the level issue is that laminate floors, which usually lock together and float, rather than being nailed or glued down, have a limit to how much the surface under them can raise or lower. If there is too much change in the flatness underneath, planks can unlock from each other, or smack the floor as you walk on them. Very generally that’s about 1/16″ across any 3 foot span of the subfloor. So if the 5/16″ goes in 1 direction, only sloping down or only rising up, and it’s across, say, 14 or 15 feet, then you could be okay, while the same amount over a 2 foot stretch would make the flooring wobble, or planks disengage from the other planks.

      2 – what other options are there? I know there is vinyl – however I have not seen a vinyl that I really like perhaps where can I find a nicer looking better quality vinyl.

      If you are not going to level the floor, then a glue down vinyl plank might be able to conform to the sloping of the floor. This is different than the big sheets of vinyl most think of. Vinyls have their tolerances too, and we don’t know all of your details, but we have Loose Lay Vinyl Plank Flooring called Supreme Elite Click (formerly Tuff Guy – same stuff, different name), which can be glued down over all the floor, or just in certain areas. Unlike laminate, it’s basically floppy, or maybe ‘bendy’ is more accurate. It’s looks are designed to approach the quality of a good laminate – I think they meet it. We’ve actually been sold out of it until just this month, and it’s starting to come back in. I’ve linked to our page so you can get a look at the kinds we have. If you went with this, you could loose lay the planks wherever the floor is perfectly level, but where there is a slope we would recommend using an adhesive.

      The second half of this post on our two major waterproof floors has a video showing how these floors go down loose, then how you might use them with an adhesive. Even if you don’t get it from us, it may be the style you want to look for in your situation.

      Thanks for asking, Dawn!
      – David (helped by Adam)

  14. Dan says:

    Hi Dave,
    I love this blog! I was hoping you can help me out with this. Here is my situation: I have an apartment condo in Virginia, that is on the basement level. There is concrete underneath the wall-to-wall carpeting, and underneath the concrete is the earth. The ceiling is about 8′ and I don’t think there is anymore room to create a subfloor above the concrete or people will feel like they might hit their head on the ceiling. I have moved out of the home and plan on renting it out to anyone who will take it (I.e. people with pets included). Based on all that, what is my best option for flooring? Keeping in mind moisture first, and warmth especially in the winter time second. Do you have a best option?

    • David says:

      Hey, Dan, thanks for the compliment!

      I have two suggestions. Moisture first. If you have the slightest regular flooding, or any kind of persistent leak or seepage rising up through the concrete, many options are eliminated. You would be left with a cement paint, ceramic tiling or vinyl planks. Of those, the vinyl would definitely be the warmest option, and I would recommend a Loose Lay style. These tend to be thicker than click together vinyl planks, which makes them the warmest of all. Also, if left loose, when there is any build up of water, individual planks can be pulled right up (that link shows how in a video), the water can be dealt with, then the planks can be wiped dry and put right back down. On the other hand, if the floor has a slope, these can be glued down wherever the level changes, which solves a different problem that can happen in basements.

      If the moisture issue is reliably just humidity, never standing water, then for a warmer floor than vinyl you could go with a nice, 12mm thick laminate floor or an engineered hardwood floor. For laminates, you would probably want to get a product with no padding attached. 12mm is the thickest (therefore warmest) laminate, and the reason for no pad is that you would then have the option to put a felt pad of 4 or 5 mm underneath it, increasing warmth even more. If there is attached padding, the felt is not an option because of the extra height.

      A floating engineered hardwood could be warmer than a laminate, but it may also react more to humidity. I put some advice about using engineered hardwood in basements in my alarmingly titled Worst Basement Floors post, so do check that out before going with anything in this realm.

      I hope this is helpful!

  15. Dan says:

    That is more than helpful! Thank you sir!!!

  16. Dan says:

    Hi Dave,
    So I just got back from a flooring store/hardware store armed with the information you provided me. When I spoke with the attendant, I explained the above situation, and told them what products I was looking for. They said that I should also take a look at a new product called TrafficMaster Allure. According to the specs, it seems to be durable with a 25 yr warrantee, water proof (good for pet accidents), and specifically said it was good for concrete basements. It also seemsto be cheaper than the other options, which is good for my pocket since I will be renting it out to tenants.

    I wanted to get your opinion on the product. Are you familiar with Allure? Do you think it would be a good option based on my specific situation explained in my previous posting above?

  17. Stephen says:

    Hello David

    My wife and I are in the process of fixing our basement following some water flooding.
    We currently have wool carpet which we will not use again..and there are concerns with future flooding.
    We thought that laminate with a vapour subfloor would be the best thing but after reading your info, it appears that laminate is not the best flooring for the basement. With vinyl flooring, are there any concerns with the toxins in the glue that are used to install the floor. My family..wife and two kids are alergic to certain chemicals. Any advice would be appreciated.

  18. Stuart Weinstein says:

    I am planning to put a vinyl plank down on a basement floor that has been painted i want to have a thermal break so i am considering 1/4 in cork as a underlayment. Would this be a good option? Should I also put a poly vapor barrier underneath the cork?

    • David says:

      Stuart, none of our vinyl floors require a vapor barrier, and even recommend not using one. The same is advised for anything that could be an ‘underlayment’, which is what cork becomes here. That’s not just because it’s under the vinyl, but because it’s a little pliable – it pushes down as you step on it. The click together planks might separate over such a floor, because you could lower one plank out of the locking mechanism as you step down on it. With Loose Lay, the planks can’t disconnect because they aren’t connected in the first place, but you could disrupt the smooth surface, possibly even create a tripping hazard. These floors need to go down directly over a hard surface, basically a subfloor.

  19. Michael says:

    I have 11′ x 13′ room in my basement that I wanted to install vinyl laminate plank in. I prepared the floor by cleaning and priming the concrete and laying down self leveling concrete using Mapei products. I am waiting for it to properly cure and planning my next steps.

    I have found lots of videos and discussions about installing the self leveling compound and about installing vinyl laminate plank, however I wanted to know what is required before installation.

    1. Does the new Self Leveling Concrete need to be sealed?
    2. If so what is recommended, poly or sealant or both?
    3. Does an underlayment need to be installed on the sealed floor before vinyl laminate plank is installed? If so what is recommended for a basement installation?
    4. Can anyone recommend a vinyl laminate plank brand, that is durable for a basement application, meaning resistant to dampness of a basement, and easy to install?

    • David says:

      (I hope you don’t mind the re-formatting, Michael – I numbered your questions to make this easier to follow)

      1. The reasons for sealing or not sealing your subfloor won’t have much to do with any floating vinyl plank floor. What is important is the moisture issues in your basement, and it sounds like you have some. Mapie should have documentation about whether you can (probably yes), and if so, what to use. If you are using a glue-down product, there may be an issue with the adhesive being able to stick to a coat of sealant. We sell one brand of adhesive for our few glue-down floors, and its documentation says, “Surface Preparation: Subfloors must be structurally sound, dry, smooth, flat, level and free of excess moisture/alkali and all substances (oil, wax, grease, paint, oil based sealers, etc.) that might interfere with the performance of the flooring or its installation.”

      2. This answer is basically the same as above, check the Mapei documentation for this, especially if you go with a floating floor. Floating vinyl plank floors just need a flat surface to go over. They have few other requirements.

      3. Here I’ll say no, pretty much across the board. Obviously you don’t want one with a glue-down floors (you’re just glueing it to the underlayment), and with both of our vinyl planks, the click-together and the Loose Lay, padding and underlayment are just a no-no. Not only do you not need it, you don’t want it.

      4. I wrote a post on what I think is The Best Flooring For A Flooding-Prone Basement. For reasons I detail there, especially in your case where it sounds like moisture will be at least a recurrant issue, Loose Lay Vinyl would be the way to go. We carry two kinds of Supreme Elite Freedom Loose Lay Vinyl

      – David

  20. Ivy @ Vinyl Flooring San Antonio says:

    I also suggest that Vinyl flooring would be a great choice. Great to read your post. Nicely written. Appreciate all your efforts and would like to say thanks for sharing with us.

  21. Lisa says:

    is there any good insulation above subfloor or concrete flooring you can use that’s eco friendly and not too expensive? Thanks.

    • Meredith says:

      Lisa, since insulation is usually installed underneath a subfloor you’re going to probably want to look at padding instead. The thicker the pad, the more insulation it will provide, however you want to be sure your padding is compatible with whatever flooring material you lay over it. Our Super Felt pad is made of recycled fibers and is the thickest padding we sell but it’s a premium product and may not be suitable for all floors. Again, its suitability depends on the type of flooring you’re installing over it. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you’ve got ay more questions.

      • David says:

        Hi, Lisa,

        Following up on Meredith’s reply, there is a type of product we don’t carry, so we can’t be as informative as we prefer to be, but it is designed to solve floor temperature issues. It’s a modular subfloor, coming in 2′ x 2′ squares 1″ thick. They lock together and claim to raise floor temps by about 9 degrees. The link above is to their own site, and details on eco-friendliness and cost I hope will be there.

  22. Nate says:

    I’m interested in vinyl plank flooring in a basement. The basement doesn’t leak but during the summer I have to run a dehumidifier to keep the humidity under 50%. My concern is that the vinyl plank won’t let the concrete breathe and cause moisture/mold under the planks. I’ve seen a few posts online where this has happened to some people. If I don’t go with plank flooring I’ll probably just go with stained concrete or an polyurethane garage type coating on the floor. Thanks.

    • David says:

      Hiya, Nate,

      Vinyl planks are not porous, where laminates and hardwoods can be a little, and the seams can also be much tighter than the seams in other flooring, so moisture rising from the cement is a very reasonable concern for you to have. Sorry to be harsh here, but just ignore any salesperson who tells you otherwise, and I’m also sorry to say that some will. If you’re running a humidifier, then you do have moisture vapor coming up through the floor for sure. There is nothing wrong with that; it’s how normal floors work in certain conditions. Now, at some levels, the vapor could go around the floor and up through the walls with absolutely no problems for you, but at others it might not. To be certain, you would need to have the moisture levels of your floor tested, probably well into the summer period when you use the humidifier. The test is called a calcium chloride test, and it should be done in three spots for 1000 square feet, with one more spot added for every additional 1000 square feet you may have. The results will determine whether you would need moisture protection. If you do, it could be a moisture barrier placed under a click together, floating vinyl plank floor, but under a glue down or loose lay, you would need to use a sealing compound. That’s because you don’t want to glue your flooring to a plastic barrier, and loose lay also needs to contact the surface directly. Those sealants can range from $2-$5 per square foot, which is quite a hefty cost (more than most of our floors).

      If you decide to place anything on the concrete, you should definitely have testing done, and then share your specific results with a reliable installer or floor specialist who demonstrates an awareness of proper moisture concerns with vinyl in basements. Following their lead, you should have all of these sorts of potential problems taken care of, and if this sounds like a massive hassle with needless costs, then you have those other options you’re considering!


      • Nate says:

        Thanks for the info! I would definitely want to run the moisture test before putting down flooring. Switching gears a little here but what’s your thoughts on carpet in the basement? I do have 1000sf to cover and thinking that maybe to keep cost down that carpet could be another solution. I’ve heard that if I leave out the padding the carpet would still breathe and allow the water vapor pass through.

        BTW are you local to Indianapolis? I live in the area and will definitely stop in at one of your stores


        • David says:

          Hey, I’m glad to help! Since the issue with your basement is vapor, not water rising up through the cement, carpeting could be excellent. It is the most breathable floor covering. Also, regarding the pad, there are “open cell” and “closed cell” types of carpet padding. Most types are open cell, and those will also breathe. A closed cell type would be something like a rubber padding. You’re right, you might save money, even with carpet and pad, if you do decide to use padding.

          I will say that the downside of carpeting has to do with allergies. Carpet traps stuff like dust and dander. Even a carpet which is maintained in a pretty normal manor can still release that stuff back into the air, concentrating the allergens a bit more than usual, which can bother some people. Many with allergies avoid carpet as a rule, though there is a flip side. If you have allergies and the carpeting is maintained above the norm, such as vacuuming it every day or two instead of every week or two, and using a household steam cleaner every month instead of every six months, then the carpet can actually create a better airborne allergy environment because basically, a carpet functions like a great big air filter. It grasps particles that would simply blow across a smooth laminate, and cycle back into the airflow. If you keep it really clean, then it will be keeping the allergen levels down, lower than an uncarpeted room, rather than raising them, because it will trap stuff, but then you’d remove it before it gets released back into the air. It’s pretty hot and cold on the allergy issue, not much middle, so most sufferers just stay away from it – people with serious allergies, I mean. If you don’t have allergy issues, then it doesn’t matter, but I wanted to be open about that.

          We are local to Indianapolis. We have three stores. Our Noblesville location probably has the most carpet samples to see (as well as plenty of vinyl plank and others). Lafayette Road has more carpet actually in stock. Our Avon location is brand new, so if they’re close by, definitely stop in, because they do have some carpeting to see, just not yet as much as the other two places. Here’s where you’ll find us:

          Noblesville Store
          16080 Prosperity Drive
          Noblesville, In. 46060
          Phone: 317-565-6170
          Mon-Fri (9a-8p), Sat (10a-6p)

          Indianapolis Store
          4640 Lafayette Rd.
          Indianapolis, In. 46254
          Phone: 317-472-8888
          Mon-Sat (10a-6p)

          Avon Store
          8187 E US HWY 36
          Avon, IN 46123
          Phone: 317-754-2270
          Mon-Sat (10a-6p)

          Thanks for replying back, Nate, and I hope this helps!
          – David

          • Nate says:

            David, I’m back Ha ha. I’ve been doing more research on the flooring options. Now I’m thinking about putting down a subfloor such as Dricore or DMX 1Step then maybe using regular laminate flooring. Seems that this will give me a thermal break between the concrete and floor which should help out with moisture vapor issues if there is any. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks!

            • David says:

              Hi, Nate!

              I wanted to look into those two products since we don’t carry them here. What you’re thinking sounds like a good idea! If I read correctly, both of those act as moisture barriers, good for your laminate, and they would allow some breathing – good for your cement. My guess is that the moisture will still enter the area through your walls, so the dehumidifier may remain a feature of your basement. As much as I can, I give a thumb up, and I would just run the situation by whomever you get the subfloor from, because they will know details and tips about that which I do not, and that’s almost always helpful.

              Take care, Nate!

  23. Keegan says:

    Are comments closed now?

  24. Daniel says:

    I’ve just started learning more about LVP and had no idea there was this much to know. Just the amount of brands themselves is a lot to think about and make comparisons between. I’ve narrowed my focus on Shaw’s Floorte Pro Series (which is a bit more manageable for me), specifically series 3,5,6 and 7.

    So far in my research, I’ve like how the durability really stands out. I know this is a huge deal after reading dozens of comments online about scratches and scuff marks, and how sharp objects are the main weakness according to the above article. The Floorte series seem to have strong offerings to guard against those concerns with their different finishes. The main ones of those being their ArmourBead Finish and ScufResist Platinum Finish. Part of what makes the ScufResist Platinum Finish so strong is the inclusion of Aluminum Oxide being mixed with the finish. It’s a high-end compound makes the wear-layer of the LVP extremely hard. It’s layered into their Series 6 Vigorous and Series 7 Nobility.

    What other brands does everyone recommend looking into before making a purchase?

  25. Kristen says:

    Hey Daniel. Thanks for the interesting information about LVP. I’ve been a bit hesitant about what brand of LVP because I’ve heard a lot of different stories about which is the best. Would you care to share where you were able to find all of this information? Was it a reputable source, or did you go to Shaw’s business page? Any information will be great! Thanks!

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