Posted by Dana O'Keefe in Fuzz Buzz Flooring on 7/10/2013

When you're looking to maximize your livable space in your Chicago home you may want to consider redoing your basement. While you may have viewed it primarily as a place for storage, with a little tender care it can become an excellent place for entertaining or for a children’s place space. After you have hired a contractor to build out your space and paint, flooring is the finishing touch to complete the look. Today'sbasement flooring options are as diverse, durable and colorful as your design imagination.

1. Carpeting

The number one choice for most finished basements remains wall-to-wall carpeting. Why? For starters, there are an incredible variety of pattern, texture and color choices to aide in the design process. Wool carpet options will provide the richest choices when you are looking for more than one color. Nylon carpeting, however, will allow for a thicker, softer feel if you want to make the space feel cozier. An added benefit of a nylon carpet from Relax its Lees is the great stain warranties that make using your basement space care free.

Another reason carpeting is popular in Chicago basements is the insulating properties of carpet versus the other choices like hardwood, ceramic tile and vinyl. This is not only a bonus for warmth but also to dampen noise when you are watching your favorite movie in your new home theater. To add to the comfort, Chicago carpet consumers often ask for rubber pad to go over their concrete floors when they are carpeting the basement space. Lastly, of all the flooring options, carpeting typically will be your least expensive flooring choice.

2. Porcelain Tile

The up and coming choice for basement flooring is porcelain tile that looks like real hardwood. The variety of plank sizes range from 6” x 24”, to 6” x 36” to 8” x 48”. The color range and wood varieties that are available will surprise you. If the wood look isn’t to your liking, there are dozens of other porcelain tile styles that can liven up your basement space. Using porcelain tile has the added benefit of reducing the problems associated with flooding or seepage. Once the tile is installed in your basement it becomes very difficult to damage. Additionally, the benefit of using porcelain versus natural stone in a basement space is the relative ease in maintenance.

The downsides to using porcelain in your basement are the added cost (typically two to three times the cost of carpeting), the difficulty of changing it out down the road and tile in the basement will feel cold to the touch. To address the comfort factor, you can always put area rugs on top of the tile. The addition of area rugs in certain parts of your basement room adds a new interior design dimension to the space, while also providing warmth and softness. In addition, there are electric heating systems, like Warmly Yours, that you can put under your tile floor to add to the comfort. When you choose tile for your basement, make sure that you use an isolation crack membrane to protect against the tile cracking, and a product like Grout Boost to minimize the staining of your grout lines.

3. Vinyl

Another great flooring option for your Chicago lower level space is vinyl. Vinyl tiles can be installed in two different ways: glued down or floating. The added advantage to the floating tiles, which click together much like laminate, is that if you get water damage in an area you can simply replace that small area impacted. Also, the cost of installation for a click together product is less than the glued down tiles. Vinyl tiles come in extremely realistic wood and stone visuals that are hard to distinguish from the actual product. Vinyl tiles are frequently being specified in basements that suffer water damage. If you are planning on installing vinyl tiles or planks in your Chicago basement, you will want to make sure that your floor is relatively smooth because any indentations in your concrete will show through the vinyl tile. On the cost spectrum, vinyl planks and tiles typically fall in between carpet and porcelain tile.

4. Wood & Laminate Flooring

Wood and laminate flooring require added preparation and come with increased risk to install in your basement. For starters, because of humidity issues, the only type of wood that is recommended in a basement is engineered hardwood like Kahrs. In other words, you should never install solid wood floors in your basement. If you are going to put wood or laminate in the basement, you will need to test for humidity levels prior to installation and let the wood or laminate acclimate for several days. In addition, as with any wood or laminate flooring, you will want to monitor your humidity levels and temperature of the space carefully. Since most basements will have some level of seepage, it is critical to install a moisture barrier between the concrete and the laminate or wood flooring that you install. This type of installation requires that you float the wood flooring rather than nail it down or glue it down.

To increase your chances of having success with wood or laminate flooring below grade, you may want to invest in a Dri-Core system, which in essence creates a water resistant layer of special plywood that lays between your flooring and the concrete. At the end of the day, wood or laminate flooring installed properly below grade will cost less than porcelain tile but more than carpet and vinyl tile installations. Bear in mind if you have radiant heated floors in your basement, the system must be running for a few days before and after the installation of the wood and certain species of hardwood should not be installed over radiant heat.

5. Cork Flooring

If you're looking for an eco-friendly choice for your basement, choose cork for a natural look. This easy to install flooring is softer than porcelain tile and naturally resistant to moisture and bacteria. Cork can also provide good insulation between your feet and the basement slab and is easy on your body. Most cork floors these days are available in either a tile or a click system. Like with the wood or laminate floors, you will want to install a moisture barrier if you are putting the click type of cork flooring in your basement. A huge benefit to an active household is the sound reducing properties inherent to cork floors. In terms of cost, cork floors will be in the same cost category of wood floors (more than carpet but less than porcelain tile once installed).


Tags: flooring installation , cork flooring , porcelain tile , area rugs , floating , glue down , wool

« Back

Get A Quote Today

Chicago flooring products for residential and commercial installations
Inspiration Galleries »
Browse our expertly curated galleries before your next project
Carpet, hardwood, tile, and vinyl sales
Debbie's Deals »
Find a great deal with our
closeout flooring sales.
Chicago flooring samples
My Flooring Samples »
Order the samples you like,
right to your front door.
Visit our chicago flooring store
Visit Our Chicago Showroom »
Shop our 14,000 sq. ft. showroom for
Chicago's Largest In-Stock Selection
About Home Carpet One
Read Our Story »
Serving Chicago for over
45 years
Take a virtual tour of our chicago flooring showroom
View Our Location »
Find us and view our 
fully stocked showroom