Carpet Vs Vinyl Plank In The Basement – Which To Choose?

If you're in the middle of a basement renovation, you may be choosing whether to put carpet or vinyl plank on the floor? Is one better than the other for this application? We've researched to see why you might choose one over the other and have those answers for you here.

There's no right or wrong reason for either carpet or vinyl plank as your basement flooring. It comes down to what you want and how dry your basement is. If your basement tends to hold moisture, then you'll probably want to stick with vinyl plank. But many low-pile carpet options could be great for a basement as well.

We're going to explore these options in greater detail. We'll also look at what kind of carpets can work for a basement; if there are types, you can lay directly on concrete. With vinyl plank flooring, we'll discuss if you need an underlay on top of concrete and if the vinyl plank flooring is waterproof. Keep reading for all of this information.

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Carpet Versus Vinyl Plank Flooring In Your Basement

Basements allow adding additional usable space for your home. Though they are not always included in the square footage, all that will matter is having that real space when you're living there. Maybe you need a playroom for your kids' toys, a room for the band to practice in, or a cozy living space for watching movies. Your basement can be finished out in a way that makes it have real value to you.

One catch with basements, though, is moisture. It's essential to have a good sense of your own basement. Has it been well-waterproofed? Does it tend to smell musty? Is it a walk-out basement with great natural light? All of those factors will need to be considered when choosing the type of flooring you're going to use.

The Pros And Cons Of Vinyl Plank Flooring In Your Basement

Hallway with billiard poll and red sofa near the small bar.

Vinyl Plank flooring is a wildly popular option for homeowners these days. It comes in a vast array of colors and styles and is relatively inexpensive. It wears well for pets, kids, and general dirt. It's also pretty easy to install for DIY'ers. 

Cons are that it is not as soft to the touch as carpet. It's louder than carpet and, if installed incorrectly, could shift and move underfoot.

Do You Need An Underlay For Vinyl Plank Flooring On Concrete?

Underlays are manufactured fabrics that roll out in sheets beneath flooring choices like vinyl planks and carpet. Most basements typically have a concrete finished floor at the builder stage. So do you need an underlay between the concrete and your vinyl plank flooring?

The main thing to consider is if your concrete floor is level. If it's not, that's going to be your first thing to tackle before laying a vinyl plank floor. If it is level, you don't have to have an underlay. However, an underlay will provide some noise reduction and additional cushiness. If your basement has any moisture, you'll need a moisture barrier before laying either the underlay or the vinyl plank.

Click here for this flooring underlay on Amazon.

Is Vinyl Plank Flooring Waterproof?

This depends on the product you buy. Some vinyl plank is moisture resistant, and other brands are waterproof. Depending upon your basement, it may be more prudent for you to buy one brand over another. 

This vinyl plank flooring from Lucida is 100% waterproof. Click here for this on Amazon.

The Pros And Cons Of Putting Carpet In Your Basement

New Game Room With Pool and Air Hockey Tables

Another popular option for basements is to use carpeting. Pros for using carpeting are that it's soft, it will muffle sound, it looks warm and cozy, and it is relatively inexpensive. And if you're using a carpet square product, then it's pretty easy to install on your own.

Cons to using carpet in a basement have to do with moisture. If your basement has any tendency toward holding moisture or is not moisture-proofed, carpeting can end up smelling musty and hanging onto mold and mildew. Carpet is also more apt to hold onto stains than plank flooring is.

Can You Lay Carpet Directly On Concrete?

If you're sure that your basement is free from moisture, you can install your carpet directly onto concrete. However, you're still going to want to run your tack strips around the edges and lay down a carpet mat before installing the carpet on top. 

If your concrete has moisture issues, you can always carpet your basement in a multi-step way. First, put down a layer of dimpled polyethylene above your concrete. Cover this with the plywood subfloor. Then finish with your carpet pad and carpet. This method creates some space and airflow between your carpet and the concrete floor of the basement.

Click here for this moisture barrier on Amazon.

What Kind Of Carpet Is Good For The Basement?

Several kinds of carpets will work well in basements, and we'll look at each of them here.

Synthetic Fiber Carpets

Because moisture is sometimes a concern in basements, synthetic fibers are well-suited. They'll typically retain less moisture than natural fibers, and they also tend to be easier to get stains out of. Look for materials like nylon, polyester, or triexta when seeking a synthetic fiber carpet.

Low Pile Carpets

Pile refers to the thickness of carpets, and a low pile carpet is lower to the ground without a lot of fluffiness. You can still put a nice thick carpet pad beneath it so that it's squishy and comfortable, but a lower pile carpet will dry out more quickly and hold up to the hard use a basement playroom might get.

Carpet Squares

Another fun idea for the basement is the use of carpet squares or carpet tiles. One huge advantage to this application is that if you do end up with moisture in your basement, it's easy to replace a section of carpet tiles rather than the whole thing. They often will adhere to the concrete with an included adhesive backing.

Often you can buy a large box of these carpet tiles in a mix of colors which will create a fun patchwork quilt of a floor. Of course, they are also available in solid colors if you prefer a more cohesive look.

Click here for this large assortment of carpet tiles on Amazon.

If you like solid colors, those are available as well. Check to see what square footage they will cover. This brand comes in a box of 9 tiles that covers approx 34 square feet of area.

Click here for this on Amazon.

Your Beautiful Finished Basement

Beautiful new apartmen

A finished basement is a real boon to any homeowner. It will allow your family to spread and have some breathing room for whatever your favorite activity. A big part of making a room look great is the flooring. Whichever route you take, we're sure it's going to be fantastic.

If you enjoyed this post here at, please check out a few of our others below:

6 Best Flooring Types For Basement Stairs

How To Make A Basement Smell Better [9 Helpful Methods]

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