Finished Basements and Project Budgeting – Flooring Options

Budgeting for a new finished basement project can be done, with careful planning, in controllable steps.   For instance, flooring can be done inexpensively now and then upgraded at a later date.

Flooring is one of the larger decisions homeowners have to make regarding a finished basement project budget. 

The four options below for finished basement flooring can be discussed with your Main Line contractor.  There are additional flooring options, but we will focus on these four for now.

The four flooring options are – 

  1. Painted concrete slab, with throw rugs
  2. Carpeting or carpet tile
  3. Vinyl plank flooring
  4. Engineered hardwood flooring

Finished Basements – Painted Concrete Slab

Painting over the concrete slab is a very basic finish, that would suffice in likely warmer climates or if the space was not going to be used during the Winter months.  

This is the least expensive option for a new finished basement, though likely a temporary option until new flooring can be allocated in the homeowner’s budget.

Needless to say, painting over the concrete slab still involves certain labor steps – such as vacuuming the floor with a high-powered shop vac, mopping or power-washing the floor, and then using the correct products.  

Be sure to research the process and discuss the product options with your local paint store professionals or your local contractors.

And of course, only power-wash the floor if the basement has a fully operation sump pump and/or interior drain system.

After painting the concrete floor, laying down thick rugs or rugs with thick pads will make the space usable.  

And keep in mind, you can always upgrade the flooring at a later date.  Carpeting, vinyl, or an engineered hardwood floor can always be added when the budget allows.

Finished Basements – Carpeting 

When homeowners consider carpeting for a new finished basement, they always worry about the big “what if” – what if there is a water leak.  Well, installing carpet tile takes care of this worry.  

By using carpet tile, you can always simply replace the water damaged section.  Carpet tiles are mostly laid down loosely, and take minimal skills suitable even for a novice DIY installation.  

You can also install carpet tile with double-sided tape, or a glue.  Be sure to research which installation process works best, and try out a test area first before installing the entire floor.

Be certain to order an additional 20-30% or so beyond the actual square footage you will need.  This way, you have the new replacement carpet tile on-hand anytime you need them, even if for getting rid of a permanent food stain or wine stain.

If you are not familiar with carpet tile, both Lowe’s and Home Depot carry displays in most stores.  Or call your local flooring stores to see if they have samples.

A note on quality expectations with carpet tiles is that the floor needs to be relatively flat.  If your basement slab is not flat, then you may need to hire a professional to lay down floor leveler first.

Finished Basements – Vinyl Plank Flooring

Vinyl plank flooring is the most popular flooring product used in finished basements. They are easy to install, easy to care for, and can be replaced in sections if necessary.

Compared to hardwood, vinyl plank flooring is a fraction of the overall costs considering the costs of the product, supplies, and tools needed.  Not to mention the cost of labor.  Most vinyl plank flooring can be installed by do-it-yourselfers.

And vinyl plank flooring is relatively comfortable to walk on and is quite attractive visually, coming in various colors and mimicked wood grain patterns. 

Depending on the chosen vinyl flooring product, the easiest install are click-lock, or floating floors.  These can be relatively easy to install even for an inexperienced DIY person.

Two other installation styles involve either a grip-strip or require glue installation.  The grip-strip is manufacturer applied adhesive to the product, that also becomes a floating floor.

The glue down vinyl plank flooring can be quite involved, and it may be best to hire a professional floor installer.  This method requires more tools, more planning, and a certain level of skill.  In turn, increasing the overall costs.

Finished Basements – Engineered Hardwood Flooring

For homeowners who love the look and feel of a hardwood floor, and have to have it, then engineered hardwood flooring is the best option.

It will be much more costly than vinyl plank flooring, but will give a much more formal feel to the finished basement spaces. 

Engineered hardwood is not susceptible to moisture fluctuations, or warping, like regular hardwood floorings.  As a local contractor, I would never suggest installing actual hardwood flooring on a basement slab.  

The engineered hardwood flooring can be installed directly onto the concrete slab.  Though, floor leveling may be required beforehand depending on the condition of the existing slab. By no means would I ever suggest a DIY installation for engineered hardwood.  A highly-skilled tech or an experienced floor installer should be hired for installing an engineered hardwood floor.