Water damage is a huge concern when it comes to selecting basement flooring, especially when you live in an area like Vancouver, as we obviously are known for rainfall.
Basements are below ground level, where water from leaking pipes, poor drainage, and surface runoff ends up. Also, most basements have concrete slabs, which are usually uneven for obvious reasons. Uneven, or more specifically, imperfections in the surface, is a real issue to be aware of for installation of flooring in basements. Keep reading to learn more about potential solutions.
Home owners tend to pay more attention to the areas of a home that they spend most of their time in. As a result, many basements end up dark, cold, and damp and a bit neglected.
What if you want a functional basement that defies stereotypes? What basement flooring options do you have?
How will you use your basement?
First and foremost, you must consider how you intend to use your basement. Will your basement be used as storage space, a gym, playroom for your kids, guest bedroom, or laundry room? There are different waterproof basement floors that are ideal for different basement applications.
What are your preferences?
When choosing waterproof basement flooring, you can't ignore your own preferences. For instance, if you plan to have a functional basement, you may want a waterproof floor that is soft on your feet and/or looks a certain way. You may also have budget preferences or like to install more than one floor type in your basement.
You’ll also need to consider if your basement is prone to water intrusion or flooding. Does your basement get moist or damp often? What subfloor do you have? Is it level? What is the size of your basement?
Although you may be tempted to concentrate on the waterproof or water-resistant features of a floor, making the above considerations will ensure you get the best waterproof basement floor for your home.
Waterproof basement flooring options
- LVT / Engineered vinyl flooring
Engineered vinyl flooring features a hyper-realistic very durable top vinyl layer and a stable core. The flooring, which is sometimes referred to as LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) or LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) flooring, has components manufactured expertly into planks or panels before being fastened.
The flooring is a good option for people searching for waterproof basement flooring with unmatched comfort and soundproof features given the flooring’s cushioning and insulation. The flooring is also perfect if you are looking for basement flooring that resembles hardwood flooring.
Luxury vinyl flooring is relatively new. However, the flooring looks realistic and currently is one of the most popular options, more so than other flooring options. The flooring also offers very impressive water and moisture resistance. You can also install the floor with little to no flooring installation experience.
The flooring comes in planks, tiles, and simple installation instructions. Engineered vinyl flooring will work well in basements among other areas in homes that are prone to water or moisture damage.
Important: For perfect installation and service, the flooring should be installed in a flat and level subfloor. Unevenness causes wobbling and premature damage. Even though the flooring is waterproof, you will also need a vapor barrier to protect the flooring from water originating underneath. Most waterproof basement floors tend to be waterproof only if the water originates from the top.
Also note: LVT flooring can telegraph the imperfections in your concrete subfloor. To avoid this, see SPC Rigid core flooring below.
- Ceramic and porcelain tiles
As far as waterproofing goes, ceramic and porcelain tiles are tested and proven. However, they have some cons. If you hate cold floors, this waterproof basement flooring option may not be ideal. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are also hard. When converting your basement into a playroom for your kids, or for seniors, you may want to choose a "softer" floor. Also, the cost factor can't be overlooked, given the flooring requires significant work (labor and floor preparation) to install.
But ceramic and porcelain tiles are highly durable and bound to last a lifetime provided they are installed properly (on top of a cement or concrete board), on a level surface. Poor installation can cause cracks.
- Sheet vinyl
Sheet vinyl flooring comes in large flexible continuous sheets with impressive resistance to water. Sheet vinyl flooring is an inexpensive option compared to many hard surface flooring alternatives. The flooring is nearly waterproof with an almost seamless impervious surface.
Sheet vinyl may not be everyone's first choice when it comes to waterproof basement floors given its dated and somewhat cheap look. Technology has improved LVT and SPC vinyl planks visual appearance so much, that it is hard to accept the older generation of visual appearance on some of the sheet vinyl options. The floor also requires some significant floor preparation work. Furthermore, most DIY enthusiasts don't have the tools/equipment required to install sheet vinyl flooring. What's more, the size of the sheets may not be ideal for floors wider than 12 feet, given the flooring is sold in 12-foot rolls.
Again, note: Like LVT, sheet vinyl will telegraph the imperfections in your concrete subfloor. This is a very real consideration to factor in for basements. Basement subfloors usually have some sort of imperfections, and this will telegraph through and potentially ruin the look of the flooring. To avoid this, see SPC Rigid core flooring below.
- SPC flooring
This is the most popular option in North America right now. You can choose the latest vinyl flooring in the market today – SPC or Stone Plastic Composite flooring. This flooring is an upgrade from engineered vinyl flooring making in some situations, like an uneven concrete subfloor. It the most waterproof vinyl flooring in the market currently. SPC flooring stands out for its waterproof core made of natural limestone powder polyvinyl chloride and stabilizers. Although the flooring is relatively new, it has proven to be resistant to water damage making it ideal for rooms/areas in the home like laundry rooms and basements where moisture and water spills are common.
Besides being waterproof, the flooring has other notable advantages like variety, durability and easy installation and maintenance. The floor is also comfortable and soundproof. However, it will cost you more given it is new and popular.
While there may be other waterproof basement flooring options, the above flooring is bound to perform well even after making common consideration about basement flooring, besides resistance to water or moisture damage. In case you are wondering which floors you should avoid, here’s what you need to know.
The rigid core makes the flooring hide any imperfections. It is easy to install, looks great, and is cost effective to purchase. No wonder this is currently one of the most popular flooring choices in Vancouver, and most of North America.
Flooring to avoid in the basement
You can get all kinds of waterproof basement flooring recommendations today. However, if you are concerned about resistance to moisture and water, avoid flooring with 100% wood. This includes floors like solid hardwood flooring, even if it comes with a warranty. The reality is most of solid wood flooring is not under warranty for below grade installations.
Cork flooring has the same problem. Cork floors absorb moisture readily from the edges even though they may be marketed as water/moisture resistant, be careful.
In a nutshell, most flooring on sale today is water-resistant, not 100% waterproof. Although complete resistance to moisture and water can't be guaranteed, the above options can be relied upon. However, you should talk to a flooring expert before making a buying decision, given the numerous variables that come into play. For instance, waterproof basement flooring can be ineffective simply because of poor installation. It also matters where you buy your flooring. Although cost is also a critical factor, you should consider the long-term implications. A reputable flooring expert should be able to advise you accordingly after putting all factors into consideration.