8 Best Flooring Options for Wet Basements: Comparison Table Included


Any flooring material can actually be used in basements as long as your basement has a good damp and floor protection system and remain dry. The sad reality though is that a lot of houses with below-ground basements will experience heavy dampness and even flooding in their lifetime. Even if you were able to pump out the water, your floor, if not 100% waterproof, is already damaged.

It is best then to future protect your basements and already use a 100% waterproof floor from the start. Even if you think your basements will not get damp or flooded right now, you’ll feel better knowing that your floor will never get damaged with any amount of water it gets in contact with.

For wet basements, aside from being 100% waterproof, there are a few more aspects of the flooring you should be considering. Basements are flexible spaces that can be practically used for anything such as a mudroom or laundry room, lounge, home theater, office, or guest room. With this in mind, the floor should also be adaptable which have these additional aspects, other than being 100% waterproof, which are:

Durable – The basement flooring material you install should be strong enough to absorb or resist any physical abuse it might encounter without breaking apart. This includes dropping of hard or sharp objects, scratches, and heavy foot traffic.

Low-maintenance – A low-upkeep flooring is always good. Cleaning the floor should only take you a few minutes to do. This should only require you to make a quick sweeping and mopping of the floor every few days.

Non-slip – You’re trying to future proof your basements, so if ever your basement floor gets flooded or wet, you would not want to slip and fall. The flooring then should have enough traction even when wet.

Appeal and Style Adaptability – If the flooring is to be adaptable and be used for different functions, it should aesthetically look good and be able to adapt well to whatever style or design you plan on doing.

The best flooring to use for wet basements usually are inorganic materials. Meaning you should avoid materials that contain anything that are carbon-based and will get extremely damaged with heavy exposure to moisture changes. Wood flooring is definitely not a good choice for wet basements.

Here’s a quick overview of the flooring materials discussed in the list later. I’ve assigned a score, from 1-5, for each of the important aspects of each of the materials. The higher the score the better the specific aspect is. You can use this table as a guide when you decide what flooring material to use for your basements.

MaterialWaterproofDurableLow-maintenanceNon-slipAppeal and Style Adaptability
Total Rating
1. Ceramic Plank or Ceramic Tile4353419
2. Porcelain Plank or Porcelain Tile4454522
3. WPC Vinyl Plank or Vinyl Tile5454523
4. SPC Vinyl Plank or Vinyl Tile5454523
5. Sealed Concrete Flooring5554322
6. Epoxy Floor Coating5555424
7. Pebble Washout or Exposed Aggregate Flooring5554322
8. Rubber Flooring5455322

With all these in mind, here are the details for the best flooring materials you can use for wet basements:

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1. Ceramic Plank or Ceramic Tile

PROS

  • High water-resistance
  • Durable
  • Extremely scratch-proof
  • Available in tiles and planks. Wood and stone looking styles are also available.
  • Affordable.
  • Low-maintenance. Cleaning it is very easy.

CONS

  • May break with a hard and heavy objects drops on it. Not ideal for a home gym with heavy weights.
  • Can be slippery when wet. Choose one that is textured for more traction.
  • Hard and cold to the touch.

Ceramic is made from a mixture of clay minerals and water which is then heated and baked into a hard, water-resistant material. It is available in tiles or in planks form. It also comes in a variety of styles, colors, and textures. Popular choices are those that look like wood or stone.

Ceramic is one of the cheapest flooring material you can use for your wet basement. Although technically, it’s not 100% waterproof and it’s still a bit porous, it is still dense enough for it to hold the water for a long time before it lets it pass through. And even if it gets submerged for a long time, it will not get damaged with water.

Ceramic tiles or planks are hard and durable enough to last for a mid to high traffic use. It might break though if a hard, and heavy object accidentally falls on it, so it might not be a good flooring to use if you plan to make your basement into a home gym with heavy weights. You could provide a thick rubber mat placed over the heavy weights if you still want to use this flooring for a home gym.

Ceramic flooring is extremely scratch-proof. You don’t have to worry about placing heavy furniture and then moving them around as these won’t create any scratches to your floor.

It’s fairly low-maintenance. Just a quick sweeping and occasional mopping will keep it clean.

If you must have a wood looking floor for your basement, ceramic planks are the cheapest alternative you can use that won’t get damaged with water. Several plank sizes and wood colors are available for you to choose from.

You would need to hire a skilled professional to install this for you though as aligning the tiles or planks, and making it level requires a lot of skill and experience.

Ceramic tiles or planks can be slippery when wet. Choose a textured ceramic to give it more traction. It is best to test the traction by stepping on the ceramic tile or plank when you go out buying.

Ceramic flooring can also be hard and cold to the touch and it might be uncomfortable to walk on barefooted if that’s your thing. You can add a radiant underfloor heating system though to address this.

If you have more budget, go for porcelain tiles or porcelain planks instead. It’s basically a denser and stronger type of ceramic which will last longer.

2. Porcelain Plank or Porcelain Tile

PROS

  • Very high water-resistance
  • Very Durable
  • Extremely scratch-proof.
  • Available in tiles and planks. Wood and stone looking styles are also available.
  • Affordable.
  • Low-maintenance. Cleaning it is very easy.

CONS

  • May break with a hard and heavy objects drops on it.
  • Is more expensive than ceramic flooring.
  • Hard and cold to the touch.

Porcelain planks or porcelain tiles have almost the same characteristic as ceramic. It is also made from a mixture of clay minerals and water but unlike ceramic, it is processed differently. Baked much longer and hotter, porcelain is denser and much more harder than ceramic.

Because it’s much more dense than ceramic, porcelain tiles or planks are almost 100% waterproof, almost impermeable to water. It will definitely not going to get damaged even when submerged in water for a long time.

It also comes in different tile and planks sizes, and also in different colors and styles. In my opinion, porcelain tiles and porcelain planks have better and more options for look and style as compared to ceramic. More options for any design style you plan to do on your basements. They even have better looking and convincing wood and stone finishes.

Porcelain flooring are harder and more durable than ceramic. Although it can still break when a hard and heavy object falls on it, it can resist it better than most ceramic flooring. Placing a rubber mat over your heavy weights are still advisable if you want to use this flooring for a home gym basement space.

Porcelain tiles or planks are also made with more options with texture and traction. There are porcelain flooring that were designed to use outside and is non-slip even when wet, which you can definitely use also for wet basements.

Although more expensive than ceramic, porcelain flooring is still affordable than other flooring materials.

3. WPC Vinyl Plank or Vinyl Tile

PROS

  • 100% waterproof.
  • Durable and resilient.
  • Will not break from heavy objects falling on it.
  • Scratch resistant with some degree.
  • Available in tiles and planks. Wood and stone looking styles look excellent.
  • Affordable.
  • Low-maintenance. Cleaning it is very easy.
  • Soft and quiet to walk on.
  • Warmer to the touch than ceramic or porcelain flooring.
  • Good traction.
  • Easy to install as a DIY project.

CONS

  • Can produce dents if a hard and heavy object falls on it.
  • Imperfections such as bumps, dents, or uneven surface of the subfloor can project to it.

Vinyl flooring comes in planks, tiles, and even sheets. It also known as Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) or Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP). They can be made with either a Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) core or with a Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) core. All of these are 100% waterproof and can be used for wet basements. You can learn more about why LVPs are good for basements by following this link.

Considering the aesthetics and the ease of installation, I’ve only included the WPC vinyl plank or tile, and the SPC vinyl plank or tile in this list.

WPC vinyl flooring is made with a core that is made from a mixture of wood pulp and plastic composite and then topped with a digitally printed design. It usually includes styles that resemble wood and stones that look and feel like the real thing. This can also be an excellent alternative if you want a wood looking floor for your basements.

Although both WPC and SPC vinyl flooring have rigid core, WPC vinyl flooring feel softer and quieter to walk on. Both of them though feel warmer to the touch than ceramic or porcelain flooring.

This flooring can be used for any type of space you plan to make your basement. It will not break even if a hard and heavy object drops on it. It will however, could produce dents. It has high scratch resistance but it is not scratch proof and may still get scratched. You can install furniture pads to your furniture legs to protect the floor when you move your furniture around.

Most vinyl flooring are non-slip and won’t be slippery even when wet. It is still best though to check and test it for traction before you but it.

This can be easily installed, even for a DIY project. Cleaning and maintaining it is also equally as easy. It is also as affordable as ceramic and porcelain flooring, if not cheaper.

The only thing you have to be aware of though is that any uneven, or bumps and dents in the surface of your subfloor may project to the vinyl flooring. Make sure that you have a smooth subfloor before you install this.

4. SPC Vinyl Plank or vinyl tile

PROS

  • 100% waterproof.
  • Durable.
  • Resists dents better than WPC vinyl tile or planks.
  • Will not break from heavy objects falling on it.
  • Scratch resistant with some degree.
  • Available in tiles and planks. Wood and stone looking styles look excellent.
  • Affordable.
  • Low-maintenance. Cleaning it is very easy.
  • Soft and quiet to walk on.
  • Warmer to the touch than ceramic or porcelain flooring.
  • Good traction.
  • Easy to install as a DIY project.

CONS

  • Imperfections such as bumps, dents, or uneven surface of the subfloor can project to it.

SPC vinyl plank or tile, as mentioned above, is almost the same as WPC vinyl plank or tile. The difference is their core.

SPC vinyl plank or tile uses a stone plastic composite core. The flooring material is also 100% waterproof.

It has the same characteristics as WPC vinyl plank or tile. It also comes in a variety of styles and colors. The only difference is that SPC vinyl plank or tile is more rigid and is usually used on areas that are exposed to heavy traffic use.

Since it is more rigid, it can resist dents better than WPC can. It is a good option to use for home gym basements as it won’t break or get dented easily even when hard and heavy objects fall on it.

It is not as soft and quiet to walk on as WPC but it still has good traction even when wet.

You can learn more about why LVPs are good for basements by following this link.

5. Sealed Concrete Flooring

PROS

  • 100% waterproof.
  • Very hard and durable.
  • Good for heavy traffic use.

CONS

  • Need to be resealed every 2-5 years to continuously protect it from stains and developing surface cracks.
  • Design style to use this for is limited.

Sealed concrete floors are excellent for wet basements. Aside from it being 100% waterproof, it is very hard and durable and will last a lifetime. It is scratchproof and can be used to house heavy furniture and equipment.

Sealing concrete floors help prevent it from staining if standing water is left for a long time. Sealing also protects it from getting micro cracks on the surface and helps it looking good for a long time.

Although you need to reseal concrete flooring every 2-5 years to protect it from getting cracks, and staining, it is virtually low-maintenance. An occasional sweeping and mopping are good enough to keep it clean.

It has a very unique look to it though and will only fit a few design styles. It is often used for a modern or industrial design style of rooms.

Because of its durability, you can use sealed concrete flooring for heavy traffic use, even resist heavy objects falling on to it.

It’s quite hard and cold to the touch but adding mats or area rugs on small areas of your basement can add a bit of softness and warmth to the room. Radiant underfloor heating can also be added for more warmth.

6. Epoxy Floor Coating

PROS

  • 100% waterproof.
  • Very hard and durable.
  • It is scratch proof and will not crack.
  • Good for heavy traffic use.
  • Low-maintenance.
  • Look and style is very customizable.

CONS

  • Can be a on the expensive side.
  • A skilled professional is needed to apply this flooring material.

Epoxy floor coating is usually applied on concrete floors to make it more durable, but it can also be applied on wood subfloor but with extra preparation work. Epoxy floor coating is applied in liquid form to any surface and then hardens into a seamless, very hard and durable, and 100% waterproof top coat.

It is scratchproof and it will never crack. You can use this flooring material to house heavy furniture and equipment.

The look and style are very customizable and is usually done by a skilled professional. You can have it looking like a shiny metal or a glossy stone finish. The video above shows how it is applied and how to create its unique look and style. You can have it customized to match whatever design style you plan to make in your basement.

The surface has good traction to walk on, even when wet. It also is very easy to clean just like the rest in this list. Just a simple sweep of the broom and occasional mopping is enough to keep it spotless.

It can be cold and hard to the touch. This also is a bit on the expensive side compared to the other materials on the list.

7. Pebble Washout or Exposed Aggregate Flooring

PROS

  • 100% waterproof.
  • Very hard and durable.
  • It is scratch proof
  • Good for heavy traffic use.
  • Low-maintenance.
  • Look and style is very customizable.

CONS

  • A skilled professional is needed to apply this flooring material.
  • Design style to use this flooring material for is limited.

Pebble washout or exposed aggregate flooring is very similar to sealed concrete flooring but with pebbles or small aggregates added to the surface to give it some texture and a bit of a rustic look to it. The video above shows an example of a floor being rendered with a pebble washout floor finish.

The pebbles or aggregates to be used can be of different colors and arranged to produce interesting shapes and patterns to your floor similar to the image below.

image by Flooring Specialist Malaysia

Because its base is concrete, it is also very hard and durable, and will definitely last a lifetime. It is also 100% waterproof. You might need to seal and reseal every 2-5 years to protect the pebbles and grout in between from stains.

The design style you can use this for is limited to a few, just like the sealed concrete flooring. It can work for a zen type lounge or even for a modern industrial looking office in your basement.

8. Rubber Flooring

PROS

  • 100% waterproof.
  • Durable and resilient.
  • Grippy and has a very good traction.
  • It can be installed by DIY.

CONS

  • Design style to use this flooring material for is very limited. Usually used for home gyms or playroom setup.

Rubber flooring can work well for basement you plan to convert into a home gym. It is very resilient and will absorb impact from hard and heavy objects dropped on to it. It is also 100% waterproof and can definitely work well with wet basements.

The video above shows how this type of flooring is installed.

It is available in sheets or rolls, or tiles. There’s even option for wet pouring, which might already be too impractically expensive for your needs. Usually, for residential use, the sheets or rolls is a very good option to use.

Rubber flooring is normally used for home gyms or playroom type of setup and it might not be the best flooring to use for another function of space for your basement. Although it is normally sold in black color, there are actually other available colors you can get in the market. Mix and match colored rubber tiles or sheets to give your basement floors a bit of play with the design.

Rubber is intrinsically grippy, so the flooring does have a very good traction even when wet.

The trick to choosing the best flooring for your wet basement is to first decide on the kind of space you plan to use your basement for. All the materials listed here on this article can be used for wet basements but their aesthetic aspects will not work for all design styles. Knowing what specific space and the design style you want for that space will help you better decide for the right flooring material to use.

Angelo

He is an architect for more than 20 years. He is passionate about design and architecture and enjoys sharing his knowledge and information with people as well.

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