What flooring material is right for my basement?

What flooring material is right for my basement?

Like some families, you may use your basement as a rec room. It’s a carefree place to entertain family and friends and it’s the one place in the house where no one has to worry about spilling a drink or the dog making a mess. 

That’s why, when choosing the right material for your basement floor, it’s important to choose something that has a low initial cost, is easy and inexpensive to maintain, and is incredibly durable.

Below, I’ll explain how a polished concrete basement floor compares to other flooring choices when it comes to cost, maintenance and lifespan.


Initial cost: Between $2 and $6 per square foot.

Maintenance: Carpet retains dirt and stains, requiring constant shampooing. It also has a tendency toward mold and mildew in humid environments and harbors allergens, which can quickly become unhealthy, unsightly and stinky.

Lifespan: Usually 10 years or less.


Initial cost: Between $8 and $15 per square foot.

Maintenance: Hardwood floors require special cleaning and maintenance products and require a recoating every five to 10 years at a cost of approximately $1.50 per square foot.

Lifespan: Lifetime with proper maintenance.

Ceramic tile

Initial cost: Between $9 and $12 per square foot.

Maintenance: Tile has a tendency to crack and fall out, and the likelihood of this happening grows exponentially every year. Grout is a dirt magnet and a real pain to clean – something you need to do fairly often. 

Lifespan: Ceramic tile can last a lifetime if you’re very careful and don’t step on it too hard.

Polished concrete

Initial cost: Between $3 and $6 per square foot.

Maintenance: Polished concrete stands up to virtually any kind of abuse. It may need a touch-up after eight to 10 years, at a very low cost. 

Lifespan: Will most likely outlast your home. 

The lowest floor in your home should be of the longest lasting material and of the highest quality with the lowest maintenance costs. From initial cost to long-term maintenance, polished concrete floors stand head-and-shoulders above other floor coverings and are a great option to consider for your basement floor.

About this Angie’s List Expert: Larry L. Bally is the owner of Great American Hardwood Flooring, providing flooring sales and installation in Wichita, Kan. Since 1985, Great American Hardwood Flooring has specialized in hardwood, laminate, ceramic tile and concrete flooring installation and repair. They are a recipient of the 2013 Angie’s List Super Service Award.

As of March 10, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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Carol Brown

Subject: Polished basement floors

The information in this article is misleading to homeowners. Creating a polished concrete floor in an existing basement presents many obstacles to overcome. Nor is polished concrete maintenance free. I've copied and pasted the following more accurate information on pricing from Concrete Network.com: Pricing for polished concrete floors: $3-$7/sq ft
This price is usually for commercial floors and includes staining or scoring the floors, according to John Buteyn of Colorado Hardscapes.
$6-$12/ sq ft
The typical cost for polished concrete in a residential floor because it is more difficult to get a consistent look using a smaller machine, according to Buteyn.

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