10 reasons vinyl flooring is the best for concrete slab basements

You’ve decided to give your basement a makeover and you need to find a cheap and waterproof alternative to your boring, cold, concrete floor.

Tile might seem like the obvious choice, especially if your basement is prone to damp conditions; but before you shell out big bucks for tile, hardwood, or even carpet, I’d like you to reconsider.

There’s a better option for your concrete floors, one that won’t break the bank, or your back, when you’re trying to install it. Here are ten really great reasons why vinyl plank flooring is the best option for concrete basement.

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It’s easier to install than tile

Most people love the idea of having ceramic or other types of tile flooring. However, there’s a big investment of labor to consider when you install tile. There’s the careful measuring, the mess of the adhesive or grout that you use, and the stress of trying to make it all line up just right. It can be a huge undertaking, not to mention the mess that comes with the tiling process.

If you need to cut a tile to fit a certain spot, you’d better have the right tools or you risk damaging the tile and winding up with a very unprofessional looking finished result. Tile floors are not for the faint of heart or casual DIY fan. Plank flooring, however, is literally a ‘snap’ to install and there’s nearly zero clean-up so you can install it in the basement in one day.

Unlike Laminate & Linoleum Vinyl is waterproof

Vinyl flooring is made to be waterproof, not just water resistant. It can literally be exposed to wet conditions for days and obtain absolutely no damage. This makes it a great choice for areas where there might be a tendency for dampness to form, like in basements.

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If flooding in your basement is a concern, vinyl is the material you want. It’s made of plastic so water just can’t penetrate it. This is why it’s become so popular for use in bathrooms and areas with constant or frequent moisture. Overflowing tubs, spilled pet water dishes, and leaking dishwashers or toilets are no match for it.

Laminate flooring is water resistant, to a point. If water pools and remains on top of laminate, it will eventually cause swelling and damage. Linoleum flooring looks waterproof, but it’s actually only water resistant. If water pools on linoleum, it can penetrate the material and cause it to peel away from the floor underneath.

It’s a floating floor: No adhesive, no nails, no problems

As far as quick and clean installation goes, plank flooring is hard to beat. It snaps together like puzzle pieces over your concrete slab, making the a ‘floating’ floor. You don’t even need special tools for the job, most people have everything they need in their toolbox already. This makes installation much less work than most other types of flooring.

Unlike sheet vinyl, which can be awkward to cut and install, planks don’t require adhesive or nails. Planks are a great choice if you ever plan on changing or replacing your flooring, or if you plan on selling your home. Future inhabitants of the home will have no trouble replacing the floor because they can easily remove it piece by piece.

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This is also a good thing if you ever need to make repairs. One damaged plank can be swapped out for an undamaged one. You just have to unlock the tiles by the wall, then unlock each one leading up to the damaged one. With other flooring, you might actually cause more damage trying to replace the section of flooring unless you hire a professional to do the repairs.

It’s warmer than ceramic tile

If you’ve ever walked barefoot on ceramic tile, you know how cool they can be. This may be nice if you live in a place that stays hot all year round, but for chilly nights when you want to use your basement, you better wear your slippers if you have ceramic.

Vinyl feels warm underfoot, and it cushions the bottoms of your feet better than ceramic tile too. Of course, vinyl placed on concrete won’t be as warm as it would be over a wood subfloor, but its complete water resistance outweighs this negative. Plus, it’s still warmer than ceramic tiles and especially bare cement.

Better than engineered hardwood in damp basements

Many people love engineered hardwood because it’s more water resistant than regular hardwood. It does offer better protection against moisture, but it’s nowhere near as hardy as vinyl when it comes to resisting moisture damage.

The top layer of engineered hardwood is made of real wood, which is porous, and the backing below the top finish layer is made of plywood or a similar material. Even with a protective sealant on top and a vapor barrier installed below it, it’s not waterproof, only water resistant.

More durable than cork or even bamboo

Natural wood floors are beautiful but they don’t hold up to heavy traffic well. Vinyl plank flooring is more durable than either cork or bamboo, making it a great choice if your basement floor gets a lot of foot traffic. Some luxury vinyl planks have an extra thick top layer that’s even more durable and resistant to scuffs and minor scrapes.

If you have pets, this added durability will be a blessing. Not only will vinyl hold up to their scrabbling claws, it will also withstand spilled water and those inevitable ‘accidents’ that always seem to occur.

Of course, pets aren’t the only things that wear on your floors. Spilled drinks and dropped toys can wreak havoc on bamboo and cork but vinyl can take the abuse.

If you really want to make sure you’re getting the most durable product, look for a brand with a top layer of 20mil or higher. Mil refers to the depth of the topmost layer, while millimeters usually refers to the overall thickness of the plank. The thicker top layer helps protect against scratches, stains, and fading. Look for descriptions such as ‘diamond hardened’ and ‘titanium’ on the packaging to find planks with an extra tough top coat.

It looks just like hardwood or tile

These could be real wood planks (I doubt it) or luxury vinyl. Can you tell the difference? Img Source

At one time, vinyl had a reputation for looking, well, fake. Like its cousin, laminate, it was seen as something cheaper or lesser than actual hardwood flooring or even ceramic tile. But times have changed, and one of the most flexible flooring materials available today also happens to be some of the most attractive.

Luxury vinyl plank flooring looks more like hardwood or tile than ever before. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns that closely imitate various types of wood flooring. Once they’re installed in your basement, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference between them and real hardwood.

With so much flexibility and such an authentic look, it really gives most other flooring materials a run for their money.

Interlocking planks are easy to install

If you’re installing your own floor, it’s is one of the easiest types to install on your own. The planks simply lock together, not unlike puzzle pieces, without the need for any adhesive or nails. You can install vinyl planks on top of most existing floors, including cement basement slabs, and the planks are completely waterproof.

If you have a damp basement it is recommended to lay a vapor barrier between the concrete slab and the planks. The planks themselves won’t get damaged by moisture but mildew can grow on the bottom of them. The easiest as well as cheapest way to avoid mildew is to lay down a vapor barrier first.

Planks are thicker than sheet vinyl but still much thinner than tile or hardwood. This allows you to install them right on top of your existing floor without adding much height. You may have to remove the base trim (if you have any installed) in order to get the planks in, but you can replace it once the floor is installed.

You may also need to level any high or low spots on your existing floor. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but any large bumps or divets may affect the way it lays. Self leveling concrete, available at Home Depot, will fix most of your problems.

The flexibility of the planks means you can work them in individually instead of placing full rows. You don’t need any specialty tools–you probably have everything you need in your toolbox already. If you need to cut the planks, a sharp utility knife is all you need.

Vinyl planks are cheaper than porcelain tile

Porcelain seems to be a favorite for damp spaces like bathrooms and basements. It’s okay for small spaces, but if you’re covering a large area, porcelain can get very expensive pretty quickly. Low quality tiles start around $0.50 per square foot, but if you want good quality, you may pay up to $15 per square foot for porcelain.

That's a lot of flooring, and at half the cost of porcelain tile you'll save a ton with vinyl. Img source

Vinyl plank flooring is much more budget-friendly. It costs anywhere from $2 to $7 per square foot and are easier to install. If you install porcelain tile, you have the added expense of renting or buying a tile cutter and you’ll have buy thinset and grout too. Vinyl doesn’t require any special tools and cleanup is a breeze compared to porcelain.

If you’re trying to save money but don’t want to settle for an unattractive floor, vinyl is the perfect solution. It’s practical and attractive, but it’s also reasonably priced, making it a great solution for your basement or any room in your house.

No subfloor needed

If you were to install carpet over concrete, you’d need to first lay down a plywood subfloor. You might also need to install an additional moisture barrier to prevent mold, mildew, and rot in your carpet. These added layers can take a great deal of time to install before you ever get to your carpet installation.

It’s tempting to look at the cost of carpet and compare it with the cost of vinyl plank, but most people don’t consider the added cost of installation. If you have to apply a moisture barrier plus lay down sleeper joists to build a base for your plywood floor, the cost of installation goes up substantially.

Vinyl may not be as soft underfoot as carpet, but you probably won’t get any complaints. It’s low cost, low maintenance, and quick to install, giving it quite an edge when compared to carpet.

Vinyl planks are safe to use with radiant heating

Cold, damp basements aren’t much fun. Radiant heating, however, can help transform your humid basement into a cozy little den that’s perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Luckily radiant heating works really well with a floating vinyl plank floor.

Now that's an extertaining space that can handle a lot of foot traffic. Img Source

Most manufacturers recommend that the temperature of the radiant heating be set at no higher than 85 degrees Fahrenheit when used with it, but that’s plenty warm enough to keep the chill away. They also recommend that the heating element be at least a half inch away from the bottom of the vinyl planks.

Should you ever need access to the radiant heating system for any reason, vinyl planks are easy to remove without causing any damage. This flexibility can save you a lot of hassle if you ever have to make repairs to the heating system. Plus, once you’re finished with repairs, you can put the planks back and the floor will still look just as good as it ever .

If you’re undecided about what type of flooring to buy for your basement, vinyl plank should definitely be your top consideration, especially if you have ever had a wet floor. It looks great, rivals any hardwood floor in appearance, and installs quick and easy. Of course, the practicality of a material that’s completely impervious to water can’t be overlooked, which makes it a great option for bathrooms too.

Whether you’re looking to simply cover your concrete slab or turn your basement into a bonafide living space, vinyl is the best choice for your basement floor.

Page Last Updated On Sept 10, 2018 by Scott Jenkins