Is your basement prone to flooding? Even though that is definitely an issue you should look into fixing, different kinds of flooring provide different support to your basement. There are worse and better choices to make if you’re re-flooring your basement, and that’s what we’ll be talking about today.
In today’s article, we’ll be taking a look at the best options of flooring for flooding basements, ranking them from best to worst to see what suits your basement and your budget the best.
Let’s get started!
Ceramic tile is without a doubt the best option for your floor if your basement is prone to flooding. This is the best way to invest your money if you’re looking to minimize the damage of an eventual flood, and it’s not going to be negatively affected by the flood.
Ceramic tiles are usually very good with water, and water isn’t going to cause any damage to them. When they’re set, they’re usually completely waterproof and you won’t have to worry about water getting through them.
The floor rising is a very common sight when a flood occurs – this very often happens with wooden floors as wood drinks the water up. The water will get through the wood and raise it, and the wood itself (be it laminate, parquet, or something else) will grow in size because of the water. Not to mention that it will start to rot.
This problem won’t happen with ceramic tile, as it’s made to withstand the abused water will give it.
It’s the most expensive material out of all the materials on this list, making it sort of a luxury option, but it’s definitely the best option. It’s something I’d definitely recommend you install if you have washing machines in your basement – if you own a business with washing machines, for example. It’s also ideal if you live in a flood-prone area and you can’t exactly defend your home from floods.
Another pro of choosing ceramic tile is the look – if you choose a great design, you’ll see that ceramic tiles really are beautiful and they add a touch of class to the room.
Something that I must stress, though, is that you have to know the source of the flooding. If the flooding is somehow coming from the bottom of the floor, then not even ceramic tiles can help you.
Ceramic tiles are great for flooded basements if the source of the flood is above ground, but if it’s coming from below, then it’s going to cause damage even to ceramic tiles. No material can withstand water when it’s coming from below.
Ceramic tiles are also very good against mold and mildew – they’re not like wood, so they’re not going to drink the water up. They’re also very easy to maintain, so you’re not going to have too much trouble when it comes to cleaning.
There are two more things I must mention – tiles aren’t very good conductors of heat, so installing floor heating is going to prove to be essentially useless. Secondly, they’re prone to cracking if they’re installed on concrete that’s still settling. If you install them on concrete that’s settled, then you’ll be fine, but if the concrete is still settling it might break a tile or two (since they’re one whole unit once they’re connected).
This isn’t too much of a problem, though, as they can be replaced.
They’re also going to prove to be a major ally when it comes to cleaning the flood up. Since they’re not letting the water through to the bottom of the floor, the water is just going to sit still on the tile floor. This makes it very easy to clean up.
- tiles don’t drink water, so they’re not going to let water get to the bottom of the floor
- tiles can be very stylish and they can look really nice
- great against mold and mildew, unlike wood
- they don’t let any water through (if installed properly), so it’s easy to clean the flood up
- they’re easy to maintain, so you don’t have to worry about cleaning
- poor heat conductors, consider installing radiators
- they might crack if installed on settling concrete
- powerless against flooding if the source is coming from below the tiles
Vinyl is another great option, and most people choose it because it’s usually cheaper than ceramic tiles.
It’s not expensive, it’s easy to clean, it’s resistant to mold and mildew and it’s usually almost seamless, so there’s not too much area for water to get through.
If the vinyl flooring is installed properly, the few seams that are there are going to be largely impenetrable and water isn’t going to get through it. It’s also not made from organic material, so vinyl isn’t going to drink the water up and it’s not going to let it go through. It’s really good at resisting moisture since it’s almost entirely synthetic.
Most vinyl floors can be installed as tiles or as planks – this makes them relatively easy to install. They can often come in interlocking patterns which only makes the installation easier, as you can just snap them in place and take them out in the event of a flood to dry them out.
The best feature of vinyl, however, is the styling. You have literally thousands of options with vinyl, as it can imitate any material really well. If you want your floor to look like ceramic tiles, laminate, concrete, rubber – whatever you want! You can choose any pattern you’d like with vinyl and you can easily turn it into something else.
If you purchase higher-end vinyl, you can freely reuse it after the flood has passed if you replace its underlayment – that’s a much cheaper alternative as opposed to reinstalling the entire floor.
Vinyl floors are very strong, flexible, and waterproof, resistant to both extreme heat and cold, which makes it a great choice for any basement – even if there’s no flooding.
However, it’s not as strong and as waterproof as ceramic tile, so it’s not as reliable.
- choice of style – you can style anything you like with vinyl as it can imitate any material, so you can really make your basement floor look like anything you’d like
- price – it’s much cheaper than ceramic tile, making it a great alternative
- ease of installation – since it often comes in tiles of a lock-in system, it’s not difficult to install vinyl floors
- vinyl features – vinyl is resistant to moisture, strong, flexible, cold and heat resistant, waterproof
- it’s not as waterproof as ceramic tile
Rubber grabs the third spot tightly, as it offers a bit more flexibility than both vinyl and ceramic tiles. Even though ceramic tiles are unbeatable when it comes to stopping water – rubber has two features that definitely shine under the spotlight – softness, and warmth.
Rubber floors don’t require an additional layer over them – you don’t need to add a carpet. There are no steps needed for additional heating during the winter as rubber is a much better conductor of heat than ceramic tiles or vinyl. It’s also a great safety covering – especially if you have children playing in the basement – rubber isn’t going to hurt them if they fall.
Rubber floors can be installed very easily – you perhaps won’t even need a professional doing the job, as they’re installed with a removable adhesive. If a flood does happen, all you’ll need to do is take the rubber flooring outside and leave it out to dry. After that, you’ll be able to reinstall it and it’ll be as good as new.
Similar to vinyl, rubber can come in large tiles that snap together, so installation really shouldn’t be a problem. They can also come in large sheets. There are pros and cons for both variations – if you buy sheets of rubber, you’re better protected in case of a flood (as there are fewer seams), but they’re more difficult to install than rubber tiles.
Tiles, on the other hand, are much easier to install because of their snap-together system, but they have more seams and that area is easily penetrable by water. Individual tiles are easier to remove, dry, and reinstall in case of a flood, while sheets are more difficult to reinstall. Sheets, however, don’t allow water to go through as much, so it’s a real 50-50.
Rubber is also fairly inexpensive, so it makes for a sensible choice if you’re on a tighter budget. It’s also a good conductor of heat, so you can install floor heating under the rubber and you’ll definitely feel it, unlike with tiles. It’s also available in many different colors, patterns, and thicknesses – meaning that you can style your floor whichever way you’d like.
Rubber, however, isn’t a good insulator – so your basement is going to lose heat relatively quickly – meaning that you’re going to have to keep it constantly heated.
- softness – rubber is much softer than tiles and vinyl, meaning that it’s softer on feet and it’s safer for children to play on
- warmth – it’s a good conductor of heat, meaning that you can install floor heating under it
- inexpensive – it’s much cheaper than tiles, so it’s a good choice if you’re looking to save money
- simple installation – rubber tiles use a snap-in system which is easy to install, this also makes the tiles easy to take apart for drying after a flood
- styling – rubber comes in all sorts of shapes, designs, etc. – so you can style your basement floor any way you’d like
- not a good insulator – your basement floor will lose heat quickly enough, so installing floor heating might be a good idea
- not as waterproof as tiles or vinyl
This is actually the cheapest option you can choose, but it’s efficient and cost-effective. It’s okay to leave your basement floor unfinished – you can easily paint it or seal it to give it a more attractive look.
Leaving your basement floor unfinished is the least expensive option and it’s the least complicated way to solve this problem. It’s also useful when it comes to mold – when the flooding hits, there’s no flooring for moisture to get stuck under – this leaves little chance for mold to settle.
There is also no floor on top of your concrete, so in case of a flood, you won’t need to replace or reinstall anything. If you seal your floor, you’ll only add additional protection to it and your concrete floor will be able to withstand even more abuse from the flood.
Concrete itself is naturally porous, absorbing water during a flood, but treating it with waterproof sealant or epoxy will make for a cheap and effective way of floodproofing your basement.
The drawback of leaving your basement floor unfinished with concrete is the fact that it will look like that – it’s just concrete. Many people don’t like this idea, so they insist on the installation of ceramic tile or vinyl, but concrete can be stylized.
If you hire a professional, they can paint and then seal the basement floor, adding a touch of style and waterproofness to your basement.
- no need for reinstallation – this is the most important point of a concrete floor in the basement, you won’t need to dry and reinstall anything after a flood
- price and ease of installation – since you don’t have to install anything additionally, you can simply leave your basement floor the way it is, this will cut your costs down significantly
- hygiene – there’s no real room for mold to grow if you have a concrete floor as there’s no room for moisture to stay
- style – plain concrete isn’t exactly the prettiest of sights, so many people insist on installing a floor – you can solve this problem by painting and sealing your concrete
- concrete isn’t completely waterproof – you’ll need to treat it with epoxy or sealant if you want it to be completely waterproof
Engineered Flooring and Laminate
Wood is, obviously, not that good for floods. It’s great flooring if you’re setting it in your living room or your bedroom, but it’s not that good of a choice for basements.
The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, wood will drink that water right up. Since wood is a natural material, it will drink water which will cause it to enlarge. This will cause it to start breaking formation and to start popping up. It will also start to rot. If a flood happens, you can’t just dry it out and reinstall it – you’re going to have to replace the whole floor (or at least the flooded part of it).
Secondly, wood will let water through. Since there are a lot of seams between sets of wood and since wood drinks water, it will literally go right through and get to the bottom of the floor. This will cause your wooden floor to rise.
All in all, wood really isn’t a good choice for your basement if it’s prone to flooding.
However, laminate and engineered flooring are much better options than traditional wood flooring. They’re both more durable than traditional wood that’s used with wooden flooring. They’re also warm and are good conductors of heat, so you can freely install floor heating.
Laminate and engineered flooring are also beautiful and add that touch of class to any room.
Despite all that, I still wouldn’t recommend the installation of either laminate or engineered flooring in your basement if you’re seeing floods.
- style – there’s nothing more stylish than a beautiful laminate or engineered flooring
- durability – they’re more durable than other wooden options
- heat conductors – they’re good heat conductors, so you can install floor heating
- wood drinks water – this will lead to the wood rotting and you won’t be able to just reinstall it, you’ll have to reset the whole floor
- wood lets water through – this will cause your floor to rise and water will do more damage than it would if you installed any other more protective option – despite being more durable than other wooden floors, laminate and engineered flooring still can’t compare to tiles, vinyl, and rubber
Cork is a relatively unexplored option of flooring, so it’s not something that we know much about (yet). It’s become popular only later, as it adds a more warm feeling to the room, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. Since cork is a good conductor of heat, it’s easy to install floor heating under it.
It’s also good for fighting bacteria – it doesn’t promote the growth of it, so it’s a smart solution if you’re worried about your health. Since water will cause mold if it gets into the crevices of the flooring, mold, and bacteria can be a big problem if your basement is prone to flooding. However, cork is very resistant to this, so it’s not going to be a problem.
It’s also very trendy and more and more people are switching to it.
- heat conductor – cork is a good conductor of heat and you can install floor heating under it
- trendy – more and more people are switching to cork as their flooring of choice in their basements as it’s a cool look
- very good against bacteria and mold – cork doesn’t promote mold growth, which is very important with flooded basements
- if there’s a flood, you can just take your cork plates out and dry them before reinstalling them
- it’s still relatively new and unexplored
- since water can pass through the cork, the floor is going to rise if there’s a flood
Carpet is probably the worst option you could have with a flooding basement. Even though it is warm and a good conductor of heat, carpets are generally not waterproof. They’re quite the opposite, actually – carpets drink water up and let it pass through.
In case of a flood, water will go right through your carpet and raise it from the floor. It’s entirely ineffective and it’s pointless to install it in the basement if you’re witnessing floods.
The only advantage of carpet in comparison to other floors is the fact that it provides that homey feel and it can be very stylish. Apart from that, though, installing a carpeted floor is completely useless – might as well save money and not install anything.
When a flood happens, the carpet will let the water get to the concrete below and it will raise the carpet. It’d be much smarter to just leave a plain concrete floor, as water will get to it in its full capacity with or without a carpet. Since carpet is made from fiber, it’s an ideal environment for mold and mildew to grow even if you dry it. You could dry it and reinstall it after the flood, but it’s still likely that you’ll be seeing mold and/or mildew.
- style – carpets can make any floor look stylish
- warm and a heat conductor – carpets are much warmer than tiles, and they’re good heat conductors, so they allow you to install floor heating
- not waterproof at all – carpets have no resistance to water, they will drink it up and let it go through – they’re completely useless for water protection
- mold and mildew – carpets promote the growth of mold and mildew and it’s difficult to get rid of it
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best choice for my flooding basement?
The best option would definitely be ceramic tiles. The thing that sets them apart from all the other alternatives is the fact that they’re completely waterproof – they won’t let a drop get through to the subfloor. However, they’re much more expensive than other alternatives and this is what draws people away from them.
What flooring should I choose if I have a gym in my basement?
The best option for a home gym that’s in a basement would be rubber. Weights aren’t going to damage rubber, while they could easily damage tiles. Rubber is a very close alternative to ceramic tiles, so it will keep your floor safe from both water and weights. Even if there’s no flooding, rubber is still the best choice of flooring for a gym.
What are some things to keep in mind when flooring or reflooring a basement?
When you’re reflooring your basement, you should call in an expert to check for pre-existing issues with moisture. As I’ve already explained, moisture is a big issue (especially if you have wooden flooring) and it poses a threat to your health. Any problems with moisture need to be solved first before you start doing any other work.
Hardwood and vinyl can’t be installed if you have any problems with drainage, so you need to take care of that, as well.
If your home is ensured for flooding, you need to have a talk with your insurance company. Insurance companies will only insure your floor if you’re replacing the floor with the same product. So, if you have hardwood floors but you decided to replace them with ceramic tiling, you need to communicate that to your insurance company.
What if I use my basement as a laundry room?
The best fit for laundry rooms is waterproof vinyl. Even though it’s a bit more expensive than regular vinyl, it’s definitely worth the money. Your risk of an internal flood is larger if you have a washing machine (or multiple washing machines) in your basement.
What’s the simplest flooring to install?
This is a three-way tie between vinyl, rubber, and carpet. Since you can install all three of these in tiles, they’re pretty simple to install, the only difference being in the way they’re shaped.
Ceramic tiles, for example, need an expert to install them – as they’re complicated and tiling with ceramic is a skill that needs to be taught.
What’s the best flooring for a playroom basement?
The best flooring for this purpose is definitely carpet. However, I’ve already explained why carpet is generally a bad flooring option if your basement has problems with floods, and rubber would perhaps be a smarter alternative.
Rubber is still soft enough so no kids will hurt themselves, but it’s not going to let water through.