Finishing a basement can be a relatively convenient way to add a bedroom, office, workspace, recreation room, bathroom, family room – or any combination of those rooms – to a home. Depending on the size and design of a basement, the options can be endless.

When it comes to ceilings, most finished basements feature a traditional, drywall ceiling, a drop ceiling, or increasingly, an unfinished ceiling with floor joists, ductwork wiring painted, usually a dark, flat color. Walls? Most finished basements use drywall over studs.

But deciding on flooring for a basement can be something of a challenge.

Water and flooring

While installing traditional hardwood flooring over concrete in a basement is not advisable as the moisture and temperature fluctuations can cause the wood to bow or split, homeowners typically consider the same flooring options for their basements as they would for the main floor or floors of their homes. Tile, engineered hardwoods, luxury vinyl plank and carpet are all viable options for basements – in many cases.

But as part of their decision process, homeowners should assess the likelihood of water getting into their basement. Even if a home is built on a hilltop and has no issues with a cracking foundation and water leaking into its basement, water can still be an issue. Any home with a basement is just a leaking water or drainpipe, a damaged water heater, a bursting washing machine hose or an overflowing toilet away from having significant water in its basement.

This may not be a serious problem in an unfinished basement with a concrete floor and several drains. But water in a basement with carpet or luxury vinyl plank flooring can be an expensive disaster. Water can easily ruin carpeting, or at least stain it. Luxury vinyl planking is usually resistant to water damage so it may not buckle even if it has been soaked in a flooded basement. But that doesn’t necessarily make it an ideal choice.

Water equals mold

One serious problem homeowners face in choosing flooring for a basement is the threat of mold. Water, or even significant moisture, that accumulates for more than a day or two can lead to the growth of mold.

This means a flooded basement finished with carpet or luxury vinyl plank flooring can easily become an ideal environment for mold growth. Even if a homeowner diligently vacuums and dries a soaked carpet, some moisture can easily remain between the carpet and the basement floor, and mold can quickly develop under the carpet. Mold is difficult to eradicate when it’s readily accessible; remediating mold living under a carpet is extremely difficult.

Luxury vinyl planking may resist water damage. But once water gets between it and a concrete basement floor can be all but impossible to remove quickly and completely. Once again, a moist environment ideal for mold growth can be created.

Tile may be the best option for flooring in a finished basement

Professionally installed tile, ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, or even terrazzo or concrete, will not absorb water. It’s relatively easy to clean and dry, and – when installed and sealed properly – will not allow water to accumulate between it and a concrete floor. This gives a homeowner extra protection against mold growth.

Even if mold does at some point grow on tile flooring, it’s able to tolerate powerful cleaning agents used to clean mold. Tile is also durable, making it an excellent option for basements that get significant traffic and/or exposure to pets.

From a décor standpoint, gloss- or semi-gloss finished tile reflect light well, making a room with few or no windows feel brighter, an attractive feature for many basements.

Weigh the risks

Choosing flooring for a finished basement comes down to each homeowner’s situation and tolerance for risk. If a home has a bone-dry basement and new plumbing, then carpet or luxury vinyl plank may be solid options. But, for basements with a history of leaking or in older homes that are more likely to develop plumbing problems, tile may be a better option.

Professional installation can make all the difference

A tile floor installed by experienced professionals can be a homeowner’s best choice when it comes to resisting water and mold, while retaining its beauty for decades.

Our staff and flooring professionals are experts, having installed countless floors in the basements of homes, businesses, schools, and churches. Their expertise and knowledge mean your new floor will be installed perfectly and will be capable of enduring the challenges that come with the basement environment for years to come. Our experienced flooring experts can also assess your situation and present you with the best options for your basement and your goals.

Contact us today and let us help you transform your home with classic tile looks that will endure!