September 23, 2023

Best Flooring for A Wet Basement

stained basement floor

Recently, I received a question from a reader who’s having a few problems with her basement flooring as the installed flooring is buckled and dark from the water that’s penetrating their room. It seems like they’ve got a drainage issue that pretty much keeps the place wet or damp most of the time. Read her problem just below and then we’ll discuss if there is a solution for these wet floors.

“We have a basement level that is susceptible to water penetration from an exterior drainage problem. Unfortunately, we only found out about this after we installed bamboo flooring which is now buckled and dark from the moisture. (It’s really not possible to fix the exterior drainage problem.) We’re going to take out the flooring, but we’re not sure what to put in. The subfloor seems to be a mix of concrete and plywood. We can’t put in a floating floor. I could really use some advice. Assume that the floor will be damp all the time :-(.

Well, as you can tell Jocelyn is in a little bit of a pickle here without being able to fix the drainage issue. One thing that would help would be a bit more knowledge and information about what exactly that drain problem is that’s keeping the floor wet. Not knowing is causing me a bit of a problem here as we can’t decipher where it’s coming from.

The window, walls, or up through the concrete. Another puzzling piece as well as how much water is actually getting in. At any rate, you should do all that you can to at least minimize the water coming into the lower level as this could be a potentially dangerous and unhealthy situation.

Whether that is having a company come in and waterproof the basement or taking measures into your own hands to do so, then do the best you can. Nobody wants to end up potentially flooded. Hopefully, nothing of value is down there as you certainly wouldn’t want it ruined and be out of pocket on it or worse, something not replaceable like family heirlooms.

What I wouldn’t use for flooring this room

Let’s start here first as it’s easier to say no than yes, at least for me. Wooden subfloors or any type of subfloor that maintains solid contact with your concrete floor would be out. That’s not to say that you can’t have a subfloor, as there are other types that will leave a vapor barrier in between it and the concrete so it can dry appropriately and also not rot from the water.

Carpet or carpet tiles would also be out. The carpet will mildew and mold and the adhesives used to stick the tiles in place typically don’t hold up to repeated soaks in water. Engineered or laminate flooring would also not be a wise choice as you can already see what it’s done to your bamboo flooring.

These would also likely buckle into an unsightly mess as well. I know most folks have an affinity for hardwood floors, but this basement is a no-no.

Possible Wet Basement Flooring Ideas

Idea 1: Paint the floor. This could be a viable solution for many reasons. One, it’s cheaper to paint it than to install some type of flooring on it. Two, you can pretty much get any color that you’d like to have down there. Three, it won’t buckle or rot with water exposure, provided you get the right kind of paint. Finally, painting is easy. If you can paint a wall then you can paint a floor. Just don’t paint yourself into a corner. The one drawback with a painted basement floor is that in a few years or so, you’ll probably have to paint it again as it will likely chip and peel in places depending on the exposure and traffic.

Idea 2: Stained floor. This is actually a growing trend. Although a little tougher than simply painting the floor, the outcome is beautiful and you can get really creative design-wise with etchings and such. Plus with all the different types and colors of stains, you have a wide range of choices to pick from. Look for some more from me soon on this one.

Idea 3: Tiled basement floor. This is another very viable option for wet basements. This one will take a little bit more manual labor than others as you’ll have to haul it all downstairs, but it also opens up the realm of possibilities as you’ll be able to use single patterns, multiple patterns, sizes, borders, etc. You can get very creative with using tiles and when they do get wet you just have to mop them up.

These are suggestions and are to be used at your own risk. I would definitely consult a local professional to take a better look at the issue and then make a decision as to what you want to do with your basement floor.

“Best” is one of those words I don’t like to use much as it’s more of an opinion word. Not being a very opinionated type of person, especially surrounding one’s home as it’s in the eye of the beholder (or homeowner in this case), I like to leave that part to you to make as to which one of these solutions would be the best flooring for a wet basement.

As a closing thought, when dealing with a wet basement, consider the drainage issue and choose moisture-resistant flooring. Fixing exterior drainage is ideal but not always possible. Minimize water penetration to keep your basement safe. You can hire pros for waterproofing or try DIY methods. Avoid wooden subfloors, carpet, carpet tiles, and laminate flooring as they’re prone to damage. Instead, consider alternatives like painting, stained floors, or tiling for cost-effectiveness and creative options. Consult a local professional for expert guidance. Ultimately, let your personal preference guide you to the best solution for your unique needs.

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