If you want the comfort and warmth of carpet without the hassle of wall-to-wall installation, opt for this basement flooring idea: 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. They can also be more easily replaced in the event of a stain, leak, or flooding. Here, carpet tiles in cream and orange were laid down to create a chevron pattern that plays up the room's vibrant color scheme. For a less attention-grabbing basement floor covering, use a single neutral color.
Carpet tiles come in larger sizes (18x18 and 19.7x19.7) so you can achieve a bold basement flooring design and enjoy the texture and warmth of carpet as added benefits.
For a tough, inexpensive basement flooring, 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. Sheet vinyl is a good choice for basements because it's water-resistant and easy to clean.
Slate tiles (or any stone tile) are a contemporary and sleek option for basement flooring. These types of flooring 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.
Vinyl flooring for the basement comes in a wide range of patterns and colors to suit any decorating style. Modern vinyl, an updated version of rubber flooring for the basement, 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. If installed correctly, it is also a close-to-waterproof basement flooring option.
Because most types of hardwood are not recommended for below-grade installation, consider laminate flooring for the basement 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.
There are many basement flooring options, but you can also dress up the standard concrete basement floor. 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.
Self-stick vinyl tiles are easy for do-it-yourselfers to install over a concrete floor. They're also inexpensive and easy to clean. Most vinyl tiles come in 12x12-inch squares, but look for 16x16-inch squares to create the illusion of greater floor space.
To create a pattern, draw your floor to scale on graph paper and work out the placement of colors. Start with the stripes 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.
Add color to basement stairs 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.
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.
For a no-fuss look, leave the concrete basement floors in their 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).
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.
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.
Cork flooring for the basement is a great flooring solution that still looks natural. It is soft underfoot and hides dirt with the natural color variations. The same properties that make it soft underfoot also make it a good insulator, so it absorbs sound and also feels warm on your toes when it's cold out but comfortably cool when temperatures soar. It is also mold-resistant, making it perfect for a musty basement in need of a pick-me-up.