basement flooring ideas

jtwtechJanuary 30, 2006

I'm in the process of finishing my basement and would like to know what type of flooring some of you have used in your basements, and if you have been happy with it.


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In my last basement I put down Pergo laminate flooring with a vapor barrier and padding underlay. It worked well, but it really looked like laminate.

I'm finishing my basement in our new house and I'm planning on going with a floating engineered hardwood with a similar vapor barrier underlay. I've done the research and tested the floor for moisture levels, and with a cross laminated engineered floor it should withstand humidity swings between seasons.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2006 at 1:16AM
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We are a long way from finishing our basement. We thought we would put cork down when we were ready but we saw a TV show that has us rethinking that. It was of a restaurant with concrete floors, they stained it with coffee(it started as a accident) but it looked fabulous. It will be much cheaper than any type of flooring and no worries about possible flooding. The major downside is that concrete is hard, if you spend a lot of time on your feet you may want a softer option.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 6:34PM
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We had carpeting and pad for 20 years. Served us well, seeing that we have had 5 golden retrievers over those years.

Just recently we had electrical radiant heat installed with wood plank looking tile installed. Large job, but looks great.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 1:48PM
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We currently have carpet, but we're planning on renovating. My best case scenario would be hardwood or cork with radiant heat underneath.

To the previous poster who saw something negative about cork in the basement, could you elaborate? It appeals to me because of the softness. What's the downside?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 9:12PM
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I was actually hoping to stain the concrete but due to bad weather and conditions when the floor was poured there are to many flaws in th econcrete - but not enough flaws for it to look planned and artistic - lol.
But maybe when the walls are framed I can rethink that -
I would love to do something artistic with faux painting and seal it!

We have a kids playroom in which I would like to put either a carpet or a soft surface

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 1:39PM
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Hello Pattyt, so pleased to see something about concrete staining on this forum. Is it acid staining you were refering to? What sort of experience have you had? I understand from a concrete acid staining company in Texas that it is a must for any beginner to buy a kit of instructional videos to do a good job, as mistakes are irreversible! I'm trying to find some samples of stain colours to try out on a small slab of concrete first anyway. What happened to your concrete and what were the weather conditions? Is it true you need a regularly finished surface, not one that has been smoothed too much. We live in Canada, and the roof is already on, but we still have ice in the basement, so we haven't had our concrete poured yet. Once ready for that, the radiant heat (water) coils will go in, & they will be buried in the concrete. Does anyone know if staining it will cause any harm to the coils? I'd love to hear from anyone who knows anything about what sounds like fabulous, inexpensive flooring.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 10:16PM
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portopia -
We used an H&C stain on the floor. It was not an acid etched.
In our first room, we used a 12"x12" piece of foam to stamp on a brick red color. While the stain was still wet we sponged on a terra cotta color. Ended up looking like older terra cotta tile- I'll get some pics someday.

We realized after out first application that the stain we picked was for outdoors only-

So in the second room we used the stuff for indoors and put down a base coat of Gray before applying stained 'tiles'. We didn't like the effect as much. So for our third room we sacrificed our brain cells once again and used the outdoor stain.

The outdoor stain is holding up much better than the indoor.

I don't know if this is what you are looking for-

I have seen some gorgeous acid etched floors that were first scored to imitate the look of tile and then stain. But those have all been done professionally.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 9:21PM
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Several posters mentioned they used radiant floor heating. Our architect (for a large addition) has specified that, but I find that it adds $4-6 a square foot. We already have forced air heat and cooling. The radiant floor heating would only be in the addition portion of the basement, but where we are lowering the foundation so we can have higher ceilings. Why is radiant floor heating worth the extra expense where you already have forced air?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 10:15PM
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The acid staining was still in the beginning thought stages - i didn't get to into looking up 411 - I wanted to wait and see how the floors came out first.

Our basement is 40x52
we live in MA
and they (meaning the floor finishers)decided hen they were getting in to get it done.

well they picked a FREEZING cold day!
DH basically spen the day prior and the entire night out there in the house running 2 torpedo heaters that he made 'frames' for to hang from the ceiling.

OUR BAD - we have 10" walls which required us to dig deeper - and we hit a spring. DH made a great drain system (even got the cutest little frog pond elsewhere on the land out of it! LOL) well as added precausion we added a plastic barrier between the stone and the floor.
This caused all the moisture from the concrete to keep resurfacing rather than drain.

It took the floor finishers from 9am until 3am to get the job done - in the mean time they were keeping all of the windows and doorways closed off to keep the heat in and the cold out - and therefore causing them self to get asphixiated (?sp) basically having to take turns leaving the basement, get sick, and going back in.

Now Being paranoid about the water issue we were actually looking at home depot at a subflooring - plastic with grooves - just for exta insurance!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 7:18AM
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I would love to hear more about the concrete staining. This is what I would like to do in our basement. I was going to just use area rugs for certain areas. Here is a site you all might want to check out. It is something you paint on to mimic stone. It is called Spread Stone, and Spread Rock. It had a nice look, and actually is resistant to all sorts of weather and heat. They are using it for counter tops too, and can put hot pans on it. Very interesting.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 3:22PM
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The addition of radiant heat panels in any room is a good idea where cost is not an issue. Especially with the rising cost of gas, electrical supplemental heat is a nice alternative to keeping the forced air heat on continuously.
I use these panels under area rugs where my wife and I watch tv, and they really make a difference! The otherwise cold concrete(tiled) floor is brutal here in the midwest. Another great application is to use these panels in bathrooms UNDER the ceramic tile. It is a nice treat to step out of the shower and onto a warmed tile floor. Hope that answers some questions.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 9:13PM
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You might want to try contacting Benjamin Moore about painting basement floors. They are SO helpful. chery2

    Bookmark   February 26, 2006 at 9:04PM
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We're building in the Pacific NW with a daylight basement. I plan to go with stained concrete initially. However, I'm thinking of DIY'ing other flooring materials in the not too distant future (if I am unhappy with the concrete). I, too, am thinking of cork (especially in the wine cellar, but possibly everywhere). Another surface I am considering has been used/recommended by a co-worker and that is rubber. While not as inexpensive as cork, it would be ideal in areas that the kids frequent or where the workout equipment is going.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rubber flooring

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 12:33PM
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We used "Natural Cork" with a vapor barrier. It is very light in color and hard to see in this pic. DH wanted ceramic tile down there. I wanted something softer for my twins occasional falls. Love the cork. It is soft, warm, and has a degree of soundproofing.

I have a lot of living space down here, so I have a lot of cork.

BUT--I do have a few places that have been gouged by a falling chair, reckless toy, or whatever. So, I am a little disappointed in the durability.

I would still use it again, given the available choices for use below grade.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 1:48PM
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I'm excited to read about the Daich Spread Stone, but I sure wouldn't tackle doing an entire floor. Several years ago I put a faux concrete countertop in my son's house over a laminate. It turned out great, feels like stone (cold to the touch) and has held up beautifully. BUT...getting the texture even required a lot of effort, sanding and more than one coat. Perhaps professionals could accomplish this more readily, but if you're not, when you spread it it leaves little air voids (much like a similar texture of cake frosting). I am going to get some to fill in places in the walls where plaster has pulled away.

That said, look at for a range of concrete stains and paints. I discovered this while doing the countertop and it's what I plan to use on our basement floor. Another place to look for inspiration is They used tape to create grout lines. I'm too chicken to try acid etching in a basement with no ventilation, so will use stains instead. Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 11:07AM
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On the faux concrete countertop, what product did you use? Was it the spread stone? I am looking for ppl who have used it, so I can ask questions. Thanks for the links

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 7:51PM
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Seamer 1, no, I used AquaStone which is a product for faux finishers, but sounds like the same thing...acrylic polymer mixed with marble dust (calcium carbonate). It, too, is designed so it can be used out of doors and I sealed it with their waterborne Polyurethane. As I said, neat product for limited areas, but sounds like a nightmare on something as big as a basement floor. Also, I taped around the sink and when pulling up the tape, it didn't leave really crisp, clean lines which leaves me wondering about creating mortar lines on large areas.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 1:07AM
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Back to the "coffee" stained concrete floor. That sounds interesting. Do you have any details on that? Was it on HGTV?

I'd love to do the acid wash but have heard you really need to get an expert to do it and that is expensive.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 12:33PM
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Has anyone tried just adding a color to the concrete itself. It won't be as nice as a professional stain, but it only costs about $1 per SF.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 12:40AM
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I'm just getting started in the planning the finishing of the house we are buying. My concern with any type of flooring is what if there is a flood or water leak? We aren't in a floodzone or anything but who knows what could happen? I love hardwood but its so expensive that if something did happen it would be a disaster! Also, the basement is going to be a playroom for the kids and I want something soft, so we'll probably end up with carpeting, unless I read about something better.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 10:46PM
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My architect and flooring contractor talked me out of adding color to the concrete:

There is no control over the color, no test strips.
If there is more than one truckload, the color will not match.

I'm looking into acid staining.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 7:03PM
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