When decorating or remodeling a basement, opting for one of the best flooring for basements is a must. Whether you want to transform your basement into an extra bedroom or living area, or use it as a utility room or even for storage, the type of flooring you opt for can both upgrade the space and protect it.
We asked Brian Walsh, associate director of Concept Interiors, about what to look for when shopping for the best flooring for basements. “The best basement flooring should be waterproof or at least moisture-resistant,” Walsh says.
He also advises that the material of the flooring—as long as it’s appropriate for basement use (you can’t use solid wood in a basement as fluctuating moisture levels could cause the flooring to buckle or split)—doesn’t matter as much as the prep-work. “The building must be prepped, whether you want to use the basement as a wet room or not, so that water doesn’t get in,” he says.
Our top pick for the best flooring for a basement is the ProCore Plus Waterproof Interlocking Vinyl Plank Flooring. These vinyl planks are easy to install thanks to their interlocking mechanism and are waterproof for guaranteed protection from moisture and even leaks.
Here are the eight best flooring options for basements.
ProCore Plus Waterproof Interlocking Vinyl Plank Flooring
Why You Should Get It: It’s a 100% waterproof basement flooring option that is easy to install thanks to its interlocking design.
Keep in Mind: It’s not skid resistant and can’t be used over cork underlayment.
As our top pick for the best flooring for basements, the ProCore Plus is a luxury vinyl plank that is totally waterproof and scratch-resistant. It can be used over an array of floors, including concrete, vinyl, tile, and wood. Though it’s made of vinyl with a urethane protective layer, it has a realistic wood-grain design that can easily pass as actual wood.
This smooth plank might not be skid-resistant, but it has a low-gloss finish that doesn’t make it slippery. Spills are easily wiped away and it’s resistant to stains, too. The ProCore Plus has a micro-beveled edge to easily interlock the pieces together for simple installation, even on basement flooring that may be a little bumpy. The planks fit together securely and stay in place.
It’s available in three wooden finishes—warm honey oak, a darker Tudor oak, and a gray forged oak—and one box can cover just over 23 square feet of flooring. The manufacturer also offers a lifetime residential warranty for extra peace of mind. It’s a mid-priced flooring option, and one that is sure to last a long time.
Price at time of publish: $70 for 23 square feet
- Plank Size: 47.75 inches x 7 inches x 5 millimeters
- Price per square foot: $2.99
- Material: Vinyl
- Waterproof: Yes
- Installation Method: Interlocking
Best Vinyl Tile:
TrafficMASTER Seashore Wood Peel and Stick Vinyl Tile Flooring
Why You Should Get It: It’s extremely economical and looks like real wood.
Keep in Mind: It’s not fully waterproof, so it’s not suitable for a wet room or shower room.
For a basement overhaul on a budget, the TrafficMaster Vinyl Tile Flooring is the best basement flooring for you. Not only is it super quick and easy to install—just peel and stick the tiles to the floor—but it’s also sound absorbent and groutable. You’re even able to cut it down to size using a box cutter and a steel ruler in order to score the tile. You can then snap it for a clean cut.
You can install this vinyl tile over concrete, vinyl, and tile, and, though it’s not fully waterproof, it is water resistant, so any drink spills can be cleaned up effortlessly with a classic kitchen mop using your regular household floor cleaner. It doesn’t require an underlayment, which brings the total cost of renewing your basement floors even lower, and there’s even a 30-year manufacturer’s warranty for residential use.
The other great thing about the peel-and-stick installation method is that if one tile or an area happens to get damaged somehow, you can simply remove just that piece and replace it seamlessly. It has a realistic wooden look and is available in an array of finishes, such as white wood, beach sand wood, and gray wood.
Price at time of publish: $28 for 20 square feet
- Plank Size: 24 inches x 12 inches x 2 millimeters
- Price per square foot: $1.39
- Material: Vinyl
- Waterproof: No (it’s moisture resistant)
- Installation Method: Peel-and-stick
Happybuy Boat Carpet
Why You Should Get It: It provides a cozy carpeted look to any basement floor while still being waterproof.
Keep in Mind: Only the backing is waterproof, meaning the floors underneath will stay safe, but the top would still need to be suitably dried if wet to prevent mold build-up.
You may not think of carpet as the best basement flooring option, but this Happybuy Boat Carpet can do the job splendidly. Alleviating any concerns you may have about structural damage, this marine-grade carpet has a waterproof backing that ensures no water will penetrate through and get to your basement floors underneath it.
Since it’s carpet, it has a non-slip surface and provides a more cozy atmosphere if you’re planning on using the basement as an extra bedroom, playroom, or living area. The roll can easily be cut down to size using a utility cutter, and you only need carpet glue or adhesive tape to stick it in place. To clean, you can simply use a vacuum or wet/dry cleaner, and it has a low-pile construction for easy stain removal.
Extremely affordable, this carpet was made for use on boat decks, so it can take its fair share of spills and still remain intact and durable. It comes in six different colors, including light brown, black, and blue, to suit any decor style. It’s also available in a selection of sizes.
Price at time of publish: $110 for 138 square feet
- Size: 23 feet x 6 feet x 4.6 millimeters
- Price per square foot: $1.01
- Material: Polyester fiber
- Waterproof: Yes (backing)
- Installation Method: Carpet glue
Best Slate Tile:
MSI Gauged Slate Floor and Wall Tile
Why You Should Get It: This tile not only looks great, but it’s also skid-resistant and can be used on walls, too.
Keep in Mind: This flooring option requires an underlayment.
Though designed for use in the main home, like a kitchen or bathroom where their full glory can be displayed, the MSI Gauges Slate Floor and Wall Tiles are a great option for basements as they’re entirely waterproof, extremely durable, and have a natural stone construction featuring low moisture absorption.
The tile comes in two dark shades—blue and black—that provides a high-end look to any space, and it’s compatible for use over under-floor heating. The low-sheen and slightly textured finish make it skid-resistant if installed properly. There’s a one-year limited warranty, which isn’t as long as other options, but it still gives you plenty of time to be convinced of the product’s durability.
Since this is a tile product, it should really be installed by a professional tiler (unless you’re experienced with using mortar and a wet saw to cut tiles). In any event, the manufacturer recommends that non-sanded grout be used. Since this product is made from natural stone, it should also be sealed with a penetrating sealer.
Price at time of publish: $35 for 10 square feet
- Tile Size: 24 x 12 x 0.375 inches
- Price per square foot: $3.50
- Material: Natural slate stone
- Waterproof: Yes
- Installation Method: Mortar
Home Decorators Collection Water-Resistant Laminate Wood Flooring
Why You Should Get It: It’s water resistant and looks like real wood, at a fraction of the cost. It’s also easy to install thanks to its click-lock mechanism.
Keep in Mind: Underlayment is required.
Another product that would look just as good in your main living space thanks to its real hardwood look, the Home Decorators Collection Laminate Wood Flooring can also be used to jazz up any basement. Ideal if you’re planning on converting the basement into an extra living space, man-cave, or she-shed, this laminate flooring has a warm yet chic vibe.
Even if you have pets and kids, the floor will stay intact thanks to its superior scratch resistance. There’s a lifetime warranty when used residentially (seven years for commercial use), and installation is a breeze. The click-lock tongue and groove mechanism along the long end of the plank allows for the pieces to fit together like a jigsaw; they snap in securely and don’t require glue either.
You’ll need to install an underlayment prior to fitting these planks, but they’re suitable for any type you prefer, including concrete, cork, plywood, and vinyl. You can even fit them over underfloor warming. Though it looks like real wood, it doesn’t come with any of the polishing, varnishing, or waxing that hardwood requires.
Price at time of publish: $59 for 23.69 square feet
- Plank Size: 50.67 inches x 7.48 inches x 8 millimeters
- Price per square foot: $2.49
- Material: Laminate
- Waterproof: Yes
- Installation Method: Click-lock
Best Engineered Wood:
Pergo WoodCraft + WetProtect Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Why You Should Get It: It has the high-end look and feel of real wood, is totally waterproof, and easy to install.
Keep in Mind: It can prove quite expensive to furnish a larger basement.
With its waterproof technology, the Pergo WoodCraft Engineered Hardwood Flooring is an excellent choice for basements. This flooring option is super durable and scratch resistant, and it’s also dent-proof so you don’t have to tread on eggshells on it.
The planks do require an underlayment, but you can install them on any type of subflooring. Installation is as simple as clicking the pieces together thanks to their interlocking design. It’s also recommended that you finish the installation off with a waterproof perimeter seal to cover any expansion gaps, such as the Simple Solutions Waterproof Quarter Round.
You can choose from eight wooden finishes, all of which feature that expensive real hardwood grainy effect for a stylish, high-end look. The manufacturer backs its product with a lifetime warranty for residential use and offers an impressive 10-year commercial warranty, too.
Price at time of publish: $108 for 24.54 square feet
- Plank Size: 47.16 x 7.5 x 0.37 inches
- Price per square foot: $4.39
- Material: Engineered hardwood
- Waterproof: Yes
- Installation Method: Click-lock
APC Cork Floor Tiles
Why You Should Get It: This basement floor option provides sound control and reduction of thermal transmission.
Keep in Mind: This option is not waterproof.
There are many benefits to choosing a cork flooring. For starters, it provides sound control and doesn’t let heat escape, potentially saving you money on the electricity bill. Cork, by nature, is slip-resistant thanks to its textured finish, and it’s also a sustainable option as it’s made from eco-friendly natural materials.
These APC Cork Floor Tiles come in 14 different natural cork shades to suit your personal style, and can be easily installed using glue on top of concrete or wooden subfloors. While not the cheapest option available, these cork tiles provide a unique flooring finish that’s sure to be a talking point. They’re also comfortable and almost bouncy to walk on with bare feet.
Since cork is oftentimes used as an underlayment, these tiles require no extra subfloor underneath. They’re scratch and stain resistant, and aren’t prone to mold or mildew either. As an extra safety feature, they’re also fire retardant. Though they’re covered with a protected coating, they’re not waterproof, so any spills should be mopped up immediately.
Price at time of publish: $205 for 36 square feet
- Size: 12 x varies x 0.18 inches
- Price per square foot: $5.69
- Material: Natural cork
- Waterproof: No
- Installation Method: Glue
Rubber-Cal Black Rubber Flooring
Why You Should Get It: It’s great for basements that will see a lot of foot traffic, can be used as a non-slip gym floor, and is resistant to pet claws, too.
Keep in Mind: It has more of an industrial look and feel to it.
For anyone planning to turn their basement into a home gym, the Rubber-Cal Black Rubber Flooring is the way forward. To keep you safe through those sweaty workouts, this flooring option is slip-resistant thanks to its grippy texture and diamond-pattern. This is the type of flooring used in many garages so it’s hardy enough to handle even the heaviest weights being dropped on it.
The Rubber-Cal flooring is totally waterproof and can even live through a flood (though we hope no one needs to actually test that out). You can clean it using any method—a broom, mop, or a vacuum—and can use a household detergent on it, too, if it gets extra dirty. It’s not UV resistant, but this shouldn’t be an issue in a basement. Rubber is also a natural insulator, so it has the capacity to keep the warmth in.
Installation is easy using a double-sided carpet tape, or, for a more permanent fixture, you can use a polyurethane-based glue. This flooring can be installed over wood, concrete, and asphalt (it’s so waterproof that it is even suitable for outdoor use). It’s only available in black, but you can choose from 13 different sizes to suit your needs. What’s more, you can cut it down to size using a sharp utility knife and a straight ruler to guide you.
Price at time of publish: $132 for 60 square feet
- Size: 48 inches x 180 inches x 3 millimeters
- Price per square foot: $2.19
- Material: Rubber
- Waterproof: Yes
- Installation Method: Loose lay, adhesive tape, or glue
The Bottom Line
With its attractive wood-grain design, the ProCore Plus Waterproof Interlocking Vinyl Plank Flooring is our top pick for the best flooring for basements. This durable and high-density product is 100% waterproof, stain and scratch resistant, can be installed over most subflooring types, and has an interlocking mechanism that makes it a cinch to install.
What to Know About Flooring for Basements Before Shopping
If you’re finishing your basement, you’ll be relieved to know that flooring for basements comes in various options, such as tiles, planks, and rolls. Typically, the manufacturer will state the number of square feet of coverage for each pack of flooring you buy.
“You need at least an estimate of the size of your basement so you can work out the overall cost,” Walsh says. You can use a simple tape measure to find any room’s size. Find the length and the width, then multiply the numbers together to get the overall square footage.
Another aspect to consider in relation to the size of the basement flooring option is the location of the room. “If there is a very narrow stairwell to the basement,” Walsh says, “you wouldn’t want to opt for massive rolls of flooring as it would be difficult to carry them to the designated area.” It would also prove more difficult to manage and cut down to size.
The most suitable materials for basement flooring are those that are waterproof or moisture resistant. These include vinyl, engineered wood, rubber, and even carpet as long as it’s marine-grade. Tiles made from porcelain or ceramic are also suitable. Solid wood isn’t a good option as it is porous and susceptible to buckling or splitting if it comes in contact with even the smallest amount of moisture.
“As long as the prep work has been done correctly, the material of the basement flooring you choose doesn’t make too much of a difference unless you are building a wet room,” Walsh says. In this case, you’d need fully waterproof flooring, not just one that is moisture-resistant. He also recommends choosing basement flooring that has more of a grip for safety.
When it comes to design, Walsh says that you don’t have to sacrifice your preferences to comply with building standards. “If you wanted a timber look, for example, you don’t have to buy a timber floor,” he explains. “There are many basement-appropriate flooring options that look like wood, such as vinyl or laminate.”
Basement Conditions and Waterproofing
Flooring made specifically for basements is commonly waterproof or at least moisture resistant. This is because basements are usually the first place in the home that could flood. “All basements should be tanked,” Walsh says.
A term used in the industry, ‘tanking’ is the process of waterproofing a building by applying a coating or a membrane to the walls to prevent water from getting into the basement. Once tanked, everything will be waterproof in the basement from wall to ceiling level.
However, Walsh suggests that if you are intending to use the basement as a bedroom or an office, the inside doesn’t have to be fully waterproof. “You just have to have the building prepped so that water doesn’t get into the basement,” he says. “Unless you’re building a wet room or shower room where water could be poured directly onto the floor, the flooring doesn’t have to be entirely waterproof.”
Just like other types of flooring, each flooring for basements options will have their own installation method. These include using a glue or tape adhesive or tile mortar. Engineered wood and laminate flooring planks usually feature a click-in or interlocking design for easier installation. Other options, such as vinyl tiles or rolls, could have a peel and stick design.
Some basement flooring types require an underlayment to be installed first. Underlayment can provide a high buffer from water and moisture that can come up through the concrete basement floor. These can come in the form of cork, plywood, floating plywood that doesn’t touch the ground, rigid foam insulation, or oriented strand-board. Many basement flooring options, however, can be installed without an underlayment as they have been designed with an integrated buffer.
Your Questions, Answered
Can you install basement flooring yourself?
If you’re DIY-savvy, there’s no reason you couldn’t attempt to install the flooring yourself when remodeling your basement. With so many easy installation methods, such as peel-and-stick and click-lock tiles, installing flooring has become easier than ever.
However, Walsh advises against doing it yourself if you’ve never installed any type of flooring before or are a bit apprehensive. If you do attempt to go for it solo, he recommends obtaining professional advice prior to installation, depending on the material you’ve settled on. “If the tanking is done correctly, it shouldn’t be any different to installing any other type of flooring,” Walsh says.
How often does basement flooring need to be replaced?
“Though it is entirely dependent on the material and use of the basement, you won’t have to change the flooring any sooner than the manufacturer’s recommendation,” Walsh says.
Most flooring options have a manufacturer’s warranty of 10 years or more. If there has been damage, such as a flood or major leak, and the flooring has been compromised, you’ll need to change it out sooner to prevent further structural damage.
Who We Are
This article was written by Kat de Naoum, who has over 10 years of commerce writing experience. Kat is also the commerce editor-at-large at Thomas-Xometry, the leading U.S. online platform for supplier discovery and product sourcing. For this article, Kat reviewed multiple basement flooring options, and researched factors such as each flooring’s size, material, waterproofing, and value for money. She also spoke to Brian Walsh, associate director of Concept Interiors, a commercial and residential interior fit-outs company.