Basement Flooring Options for a Damp Basement – Installation & Cost
If your basement is damp then waterproof flooring is essential. To be clear, there’s a difference between completely waterproof basement flooring and water resistant basement flooring. The former is specifically designed to withstand any amount of water, helpful if your basement is prone to flooding. What we are concerned with in this article is basement flooring that is resistant to the moisture present in a damp basement.
BEST FLOORING FOR DAMP BASEMENTS
- Acid-stained Concrete
- Ceramic Tile
- Vinyl Sheet or Tile
- Luxury Vinyl Tile
- Porcelain Tile
Let’s take a closer look at each of these damp basement flooring options including installation, costs and links to additional information.
Unless you live in a very old home, your basement already contains a concrete slab. However, you might not know that the dull-gray concrete can be transformed into something spectacular with a process known as acid-etch staining, or simply acid staining.
What it is: Depending on the chemical mixture applied, acid etching produces earthy tones, rich browns and tans, gentle blues and greens with highlights of yellow, orange and red.
Acid staining professionals give concrete a makeover to resemble granite, marble, slate, wood, tanned leather or something completely unique. Techniques are employed for results that can mimic slabs, tiles, planks or an expanse of solid material. Topcoats are available too, many with metal flecks in an epoxy base that give the floor luster and depth.
Acid stain won’t work on sealed or painted concrete, and oil spills and other stains might show through the acid stain.
How it is installed: The most widely used acid-etch stains are a blend of water, hydrochloric acid and metallic salts. The mixture etches the surface where the acid and salts react with the calcium hydroxide in the concrete to create a permanent stain.
The stain is available pre-mixed from home improvement stores and online retailers. Most is sprayed on using a garden-type pump sprayer. It may be rolled on too, depending on the look you want to achieve. To create the appearance of variously colored slabs, like a slate floor for example, sections of concrete must be taped off and stained individually.
How much it costs on average: A gallon of stain will cover 225 to 250 square feet. Most costs $60-$70 per gallon, so that’s $0.20-$0.30 per square foot. To have concrete stained professionally costs $2-$3.50 per square foot. Additional topcoats, which aren’t necessary, add $1-$3 per square foot. Polishing concrete costs $1.50-$4 per square foot, but also isn’t necessary. The glossier the finish is polished, the higher the cost.
Concrete Basement Flooring Resources:
An overview from the Concrete Network – www.concretenetwork.com
Stained concrete FAQ – www.concretenetwork.com
There’s a reason ceramic tile is a top choice for showers, kitchen counters and backsplashes and swimming pools – it handles water beautifully, making it a great option for a damp basement.
What it is: Tiles are made from clay, fired to harden and finished with waterproof, decorative glaze. Ceramic tiles are available in many sizes and shapes up to 18 inches in colors across the entire spectrum.
How it is installed: Ceramic can be installed directly on a concrete floor, or a cement backing board can be installed first. Thinset is used to fix the tiles in rows about 1/8” apart, though any design is possible. The space between the tiles is filled with grout which is then sealed to ensure waterproof performance.
How much it costs on average: Most ceramic tile costs $1-$2.50 per square foot. Installation ranges from $6-$15 per square foot depending on the professional qualifications of the installer and the complexity of the job.
Basement Ceramic Tile Resources:
A video demonstrating tile installation on concrete (part 1) – www.youtube.com
VINYL SHEET OR VINYL TILES
If you want an affordable flooring for a damp basement area, and one that comes in a great range of styles, colors and patterns, this is a great choice. You might also hear it referred to as resilient flooring.
What it is: Vinyl is a plastic. A core of vinyl covers a backing made of felt or fiberglass. The vinyl is colored and pressed in a process known as rotogravure to produce the look of tile, marble, wood, etc. A clear top layer of plastic, the wear layer, covers the vinyl.
How it is installed: Sheets of vinyl are trimmed to fit walls, support poles and other architectural features. Seams are glued. Some Sheet vinyl is glued over the entire backing, and some is glued only on the perimeter of the room. Vinyl tiles usually feature peel-and-stick installation, though some require gluing.
How much it costs on average: The material ranges from $1.15 to $3.25 per square foot based on the quality and thickness of the wear layer. Average installation cost is $0.60-$0.90 per square foot.
Vinyl Basement Flooring Resources:
A vinyl installation video from This Old House – www.youtube.com
LUXURY VINYL TILE (LVT)
This newer product offers a significant step up in appearance and quality from standard vinyl flooring. It is made to look like wood planks, natural stone or tile, so you’ll find a color and style to fit the design you want to achieve. Like sheet and tile vinyl the product itself is waterproof and therefore a good choice for a damp basement.
What it is: LVT includes a sturdy vinyl core that is covered with an engraved photograph of the material being replicated. It is textured for further realism. The image is then covered with a clear, durable wear layer.
How it is installed: Piece by piece, with each tile glued down or locked together in a tongue and groove manner to produce a floating floor. When mimicking stone or tile, a space is left between pieces, and grout is applied.
How much it costs on average: The average cost for the material is $4.25-$5.75 per square foot, though premium lines often cost more. LVT installation costs $0.85-$1.70 per square foot.
Basement LVT Resources:
A good overview of luxury vinyl tile – www.homeflooringpros.com
An LVT installation video from a manufacturer – www.youtube.com
PORCELAIN TILE PLANKS
This gorgeous material mimics the look of natural wood, but with a glossy, waterproof surface that is quite durable too. The quality is typically higher than that of ceramic tiles, and many believe that the glazed, textured finish has a superior beauty. Either way it’s another damp basement flooring option that you should consider.
What it is: Porcelain might refer to the type of clay used, but it also refers to any ceramic clay material finished with porcelain glaze. Porcelain planks are created in various lengths, textured and glazed to look like a wide variety of hardwood flooring species and even weathered wood.
How it is installed: Porcelain planks are installed in much the same way tiles are. A thinset mortar is used to attach the tiles to the concrete floor or cement backer board. The tiles are often spaced about 1/8” to 1/4″ apart, and the space is filled with grout. Sometimes, no spacing is used, in order to more closely resemble the look of hardwood floor installation.
How much it costs on average: The average cost of the material is $3-$4 per square foot, but both cheaper and more expensive planks are available. Installation costs $6 to $15 per square foot depending on the expertise of the installer.
Basement Porcelain Tile Resources:
A how-to video on porcelain plank installation – www.youtube.com
Installation tips from a professional installer – www.diytileguy.com