Should The Basement Floor Match The Upstairs?

Perhaps you are touring homes, or maybe you have a basement remodel in mind. Either way, you are wondering if the basement floors should match the upstairs floors. This is a great question; flooring material makes a big difference in home usability and design. In this post, we answer this inquiry using ample research and experience.

Basement floors do not need to match the flooring upstairs. Instead, when choosing the flooring for your basement and the upstairs floor, keep in mind the following factors.

  • Intended Use
  • Desired Look
  • Budget
  • Installation Procedure

Keep reading the rest of this post for details on the considerations involved in the bullet points listed above. This provides a useful decision framework when deciding how to floor your basement. In addition, the answers to several questions related to this post are included.

A rustic inspired basement with matching stairs and flooring, Should The Basement Floor Match The Upstairs?

Why Basement and Upstairs Floors Do Not Need to Match

While it is ok and common for basement and upstairs floors to match, they do not need to for a few basic reasons. The first reason is that the use for these two areas is likely not the same. Further, it is very common for basement and upstairs flooring to not match. This means that your mismatched flooring will not draw any unwanted attention and will not affect home value. The following section details how to choose the flooring for each level.

How To Choose Flooring

If you have ever shopped for flooring, you probably noticed a very wide and varied selection. Common flooring types include hardwood, carpet, vinyl, tile, linoleum, concrete, and more. It might seem overwhelming at first but use the following few strategies to narrow your choices down.

Intended Use

Different rooms and floors generally have different primary uses. Matching the flooring to that use is a great way to maximize the utility of the area. For instance, carpeting is very common in bedrooms because it is cozy and comfortable. On the other hand, stone or tile is very common in kitchens because it's easy to clean.

Hardwood flooring or tile imparts a very nice look and is generally preferred for areas where you might entertain. This means it might be more appropriate for the main floor. Carpet is softer and more relaxed, so it might fit a basement that you plan on turning into a man cave or den. Concrete is durable and cheap, so it is perfect for an area that sees heavy use, such as a shop.

Look back at flooring you have seen in other homes and for other uses and prioritize matching your flooring to the intended use for the basement and the main floor. If you are having trouble choosing the right type of flooring, ask a design professional, a contractor, or a local flooring warehouse.

Desired Look

After you have narrowed your flooring choices down by intended use, begin choosing what type looks the best. Maybe you think that either linoleum or tile might be appropriate for a kitchen area but prefer the look of tile. Perhaps you have debated between hardwood and carpet, but find that the hardwood matches your preferred design better.

A large and spacious rustic inspired basement flooring with a large black leather sectional sofa, wooden themed bar, and carpeted flooring

Also, your basement and main floor do not need to be perfectly matched. It is possible to achieve different designs from floor to floor to produce more overall variety. However, it is important that your flooring either fits, matches, or compliments your desired home or floor look.

For a great article full of ideas on how to floor a basement, look no farther than this link, "11 Stunning Basement Flooring Ideas". If you have your heart set on carpet for your basement, read this article for some of the best options open to you, "Best Carpet Types And Colors For The Basement."


Budget is often the crux of a flooring decision. For instance, hardwood floor costs can add up quite quickly. It might not be an option to floor both your main floor and basement with hardwood. Instead, perhaps vinyl, a long laster cheap hardwood look-alike, will get the budget-driven nod for a basement. 

A gorgeous rustic and earthy themed basement with withered stone designed flooring and a round rug complementing the accent chairs

Understand your budget limitations before you set out choosing a flooring type. It is not a fun experience to set your heart on flooring that ends up breaking the budget. Overall, it is very common to choose more expensive flooring for the main floor and cheaper flooring for a basement.

Should flooring be the same throughout the house?

No. Flooring generally should not be the same throughout a house. Instead of choosing a single flooring, match flooring to a room's use. You will notice that bathrooms and kitchens usually have hard floors. Bedrooms and dens have soft floors like carpet, and playrooms and shops usually have tougher, cheaper flooring. Match your flooring to the use your room will see, not to the whole home.

An empty white walled basement flooring with carpeted flooring

It is possible to have consistent flooring throughout multiple rooms. This decision can even look very upscale. Use carpets or area rugs to add color and comfort to hard floors in high-traffic areas.

What is the best flooring for the second floor?

Great second-story floors are laminate/vinyl and carpet. The main advantage of these two flooring types is they reduce the sound that travels from story to story. However, and as highlighted throughout this post, make sure to match your flooring first to the intended use for your rooms.

What is the best waterproof flooring for a basement?

Concrete. Poured concrete floors are the best waterproof flooring for a basement. These floors are tough, long-lasting, relatively cheap, and totally waterproof. Many other flooring types warp and can be ruined if exposed to water. Other waterproof flooring exists, such as tile or stone, but it has a much higher price point and may not be appropriate for all basements.

How do you finish a basement with uneven floors?

Finishing a basement with uneven floors can appear quite daunting at first. However, there are a few techniques to overcome this challenge, including self-leveling compound, using a grinder, and installing a subfloor. We will cover each in this section.

Click here for a kit used for working with self-leveling compounds.

Self-leveling compound is essentially concrete that you mix very, very wet. Pour this onto your uneven floor, and the liquid will naturally make a perfectly level surface. Be sure to do your research first before attempting this project, as there are several tricks necessary for success. These tricks include, but are not limited to, thoroughly cleaning the area and plugging all holes.

Using a power grinder, you can grind down the high spots on your floor. The risk with this is that it is not efficient to fix very irregular flooring and takes a lot of physical labor. Even for floors with slight unevenness, a power grinder can take a very, very long time to produce a level floor.

Installing subflooring involved doubling up carpet pad or screwing down plywood in low areas to match the high areas. Of the techniques recommended here, this is the least professional. Using this subfloor technique is generally used only for small areas of unevenness and basements where you do not greatly care about the finished flooring look.

Do hardwood floors have to match upstairs and downstairs?

No, they do not. Hardwood floors do not have to match upstairs and downstairs. It is a design choice that every homeowner can make themselves. Some people prefer hardwood to be consistent throughout a house, while others prefer hardwood that is different from floor to floor.

What is the most popular flooring in new homes?

Currently, the most popular new flooring is hard-wood look-alike vinyl. This flooring is cheap, looks good, and is very long-lasting. Vinyl is one step down from hardwood, stone, or tile in terms of quality but does enjoy many of the perks of these other expensive floors. Take a look at existing homes with vinyl floors to decide if this flooring is right for you.

In Closing

This post has answered why the basement and main floor flooring do not need to match. We followed with an essential guide on how to choose flooring throughout your home. Finally, we included several useful answers to questions about flooring type and even a quick guide on how to level uneven basements. Good luck with your flooring decisions!

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