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Basement Flooring Ideas

Choose durable, moisture-proof flooring for basement living areas.


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    • Add Color and Pattern with Carpet Tiles

      If you want the comfort and warmth of carpet without the hassle of wall-to-wall installation, opt for self-adhesive carpet tiles. They're easy for DIYers to install, they don't need a pad underneath, and they can be applied directly to clean, dry concrete.

      Here, carpet tiles in white, brown, and two shades of red were laid down to create a random checkerboard pattern that plays up the room's trendy color scheme. For a less-attention-getting floor covering, use a single neutral color.

    • Flooring Tips

      Ready to select new flooring for your basement or another space? Watch this first.

    • Opt for Easy Care with Vinyl

      For a tough, cost-effective basement floor covering, consider vinyl sheet flooring. Cushion-backed vinyl sheet flooring glues easily to concrete subfloors and offers an extra measure of comfort over hard concrete slabs. The subfloor must be completely smooth and free of defects, however, or the imperfections will eventually show through the flooring.

    • Choose Slate for Elegance

      Slate tiles cover the stairs, landing, and lower-level guest suite in this contemporary home. Stone tiles offer natural elegance and are durable and easy to clean, but they are cool underfoot. For lower-level areas, consider installing an electric radiant-heat system over the concrete subfloor before laying the tiles.

    • Lay Vinyl Flooring in Mudrooms

      Vinyl flooring comes in a wide range of patterns and colors to suit any decorating style. Modern vinyl wears well and cleans up easily, which makes it a good choice for basement mudroom areas. It's less expensive than most flooring options, averaging about $1 to $5 per square foot.

    • For the Look of Wood, Try Laminates

      Because most types of hardwood are not recommended for below-grade installation, consider laminate flooring instead. Laminates consist of a decorative image (such as natural wood grain) printed onto paper or other fibrous material, treated with plastic or resin, and bonded to a rigid core such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

      Laminates resist moisture and stains and can be installed over concrete or a plywood subfloor. The technology continues to improve, producing ever more realistic imitations of natural materials, so you can get the look of real wood without the shrinking and warping.

    • Play Up Concrete with Paint

      If your concrete floor is smooth, dry, and free of imperfections, consider playing it up with paint. This is the least expensive finishing option for basement floors and is ideal for casual spaces.

      The keys to success with painting concrete are a completely dry subfloor and primer and floor paint specially formulated for concrete. If you're building new, install a vapor barrier and gravel under the concrete subfloor to ensure that it stays dry.

    • Install Budget-Friendly Vinyl Floor Tiles

      Self-stick vinyl tiles are easy for do-it-yourselfers to install over a concrete floor. They're also inexpensive and easy to clean. To create a pattern like the one here, draw your floor to scale on graph paper and work out the placement of colors. Start with the diagonals across the center of the room and work toward the edges.

      It's a good idea to do a test patch first to see how the adhesive performs on your floor. Lay down four squares and leave them in place for 24 hours. If you can pull them up, you will need to use a tile adhesive.

    • Get the Look of Parquet with Laminates

      Solid-wood parquet isn't suitable for basement installation--it's too easily damaged by moisture--but you can get the look affordably with prefabricated or laminate parquet.

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      Paint the Stairs

      Add color to the basement stair by painting only the risers. If the stairs have a glossy finish, apply a deglossing primer first, then brush on your choice of eggshell or satin latex paint. The risers may need scrubbing from time to time to eliminate shoe marks, but because they don't receive the wear that the treads do, they don't need to be painted with specialty floor paint.

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      Apply Vinyl Flooring

      If you have a straight run of floor, installation of sheet vinyl should be relatively simple. Sheet vinyl is a good choice for basement laundry rooms because it's water-resistant and easy to clean. A diamond pattern like this one helps give the illusion of greater width to the long, narrow room.

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      Engineered Wood for Basement Floors

      Get the look of real wood in the basement with an engineered-wood floor. Engineered wood consists of two or more layers of wood laminated together, similar to plywood (but not to be confused with laminate flooring). The top layer is hardwood veneer and the lower layers are usually softwood. It's suitable for below-grade installations because it shrinks and expands less than solid wood flooring.

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      Seal Concrete Against Moisture

      For that hip urban look, leave the concrete in its natural state. Because concrete is very porous, it will soak up anything that's spilled on it (think of oil spots on garage floors). To make it moisture-resistant, seal it with a clear sealer made for use on concrete (check with a home improvement center).

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      Warm the Floors with an Area Rug

      Regardless of the flooring you choose for the basement, a large area rug will add warmth underfoot and help anchor the seating group visually. Use a rubber pad under the rug to improve comfort. Avoid a foam pad because it may deteriorate after prolonged exposure to humid conditions.

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      Use Oversize Squares to Expand Space

      Most vinyl tiles come in 12x12-inch squares, but to create the illusion of greater floor space, look for 16x16-inch squares. Carpet tiles come in larger sizes (18x18 and 19.7x19.7) so you can achieve an even bolder effect and enjoy the texture and warmth of carpet as added benefits.

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      Paint Stripes on Concrete Basement Floors

      For an inexpensive and stylish floor finish, paint concrete in a striped pattern. Apply wide stripes of light and dark gray first, then add narrow stripes of brighter colors. Use painter's tape to create the pattern.

      Prep the surface by cleaning it with TSP. Remove loose paint and oily spots and let the surface dry thoroughly. Apply a primer and floor paint formulated for concrete.

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      Choose Ceramic Tile for Easy Care

      Ceramic tiles laid in groups of four and set on the diagonal create a checkerboard pattern that visually expands this living area.

      Ceramic tile is available in many styles and colors and installs easily over concrete. Be sure to choose tiles fabricated for floor installation. As a basement flooring material, ceramic tile is durable, low-maintenance, and moisture resistant.

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      Next Slideshow Basement Lighting Ideas

      Basement Lighting Ideas

      Create a well-lit basement using track lighting, recessed lighting, and other lighting fixtures.
      Begin Slideshow »

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