Deciding between carpet and vinyl in a basement

April 16, 2012

We're working on the final frontier in the basement finishing process -- we’re hoping next month to get the flooring installed. After that there’s still plenty to do – it’s just going to be lots of smaller projects, most of which I can do. Tile, painting, trim work, etc.

We’ve been thinking long and hard about the flooring we want in the basement, and thankfully we’ve had the past two months to figure it all out.

Initially, I was on the peel and stick train and was ready to go – I loved what I put down in the laundry room:

peel and stick tile floor

And there are wood floor looking pieces that are installed similarly. They look SO REAL. And the price isn’t bad at all.

I was kind of hooked on a hard surface for the basement for two reasons – I do my most of my work outs down there (in front of the TV) and I thought a hard surface would work best. And second, I just thought a hard floor was the only option for basements.

Well, I picked up a few pieces of the faux wood and tried it out – and I loved it. But there were a couple issues – it did not stick to the concrete (like it did on the subfloor in the laundry room), and I was concerned that it was just going to be too hard. There would be practically no buffer between the concrete and us.

Keeping the floors concrete were never really an option for us because our concrete isn’t in great shape (aesthetically) and with the Bub still being small, I was not crazy about keeping it so hard, even with rugs down throughout.

So even though I know we could have glued down the vinyl wood planks, I decided to nix that idea. I read TONS of reviews online where folks were complaining about severe off gases from the glue used for the installation of the floors. (Some said it only lasted a week, some said it never went away and they had to completely remove the floors!)

We thought about laminate or engineered floors for about two hot seconds and quickly realized those were a no-go. The price was the biggie – it was just too expensive. And after the water issues we had upstairs with laminate, we weren’t ready to take that chance in the basement.

Sooo…we started toying with carpet. Up till about six weeks ago, I would NEVER have considered carpet for a basement. I guess it’s because back in my day (you know, the 80’s), all I remember is carpet being a no-no for lower levels. I remember the “wet” smell from many basements because of water issues in those with carpet.

But we’ve had very few issues with water in our basement. It’s built so there should never been any issues, and honestly the biggest problem we’ve had was from inside – our humidifier on the main level malfunctioning and leaking through the duct work to the basement.

The only other problem spot we’ve ever had has been under the back door. Lucky for us the guys who have been doing all the work for us used to specialize in fixing/preventing leaks in homes. So they are double checking those trouble spots for us now that the basement is finished.

And we figure, if we do have problems, carpet will be the easiest and cheapest to replace if we have to. After the water issues we had upstairs last year – I’m all good with easy and cheap. ;)

Soooo…now it’s time to decide on the one. My first stop was Home Depot and Lowes to check out samples. It was a bit overwhelming, so I took samples I liked and went to a local carpet store to get more info.

That’s where I found one I loved:

But it turns out I loved it because it was $4 a square foot. ;) Too much for what we want to spend – we are covering about 700 square feet with it.

But I knew I loved the look of it – I dig the small design that repeats throughout.

I was going to check out the hardware stores again, but then the handymen gave us the name of a carpet guy they’ve worked with a bunch of times.

And his prices are CRAZY good. Whoaza.

He brought this frieze sample that I loved because it’s supa soft:

brown frieze carpetfrieze carpet 

But because of the whole working out thing, and because this will be on the stairs (for now – I may finish them off myself some day), I wanted something that would wear really well. We have a frieze on the stairs now and you can definitely see wear (it flattens out).

I’m sure a nice, more expensive frieze would not do that, but I really just had my heart set on a low pile option.

So I was thrilled when he pulled out this one!:

  cut and loop carpet

It’s called a cut and loop carpet and I love it.

The price is amahzing (name that show!) – the quote for carpet, padding and installation is right at $2,000. I thought that was pretty spiffy.

The options we’re looking at are the six or so in the middle here:

mohawk cut and loop carpet

Well, probably not that lighter one. I value my sanity. ;) (At first I actually wanted to go with a dark carpet!)

Our carpet upstairs has held up well and I love the color – so I’m going to see what color matches it best and probably just go with that. This is a Mohawk brand carpet and it has a stain guarantee and all that good stuff. We won’t be wearing shoes down there for the most part (except to work out!) so I’m not so worried about stains.

The biggest reasons for carpet in the basement are the comfy factor for the kiddo, the warmth factor (because it can still get a tad chilly down there) and the biggest one – because the hubby wants carpet. :) It’s rare he has a strong opinion when it comes to the house (he trusts me), so when he does, I go with it.

My late father-in-law was a carpet and tile guy, and he taught us that one of the most important decisions is the padding – and we’re going with a nice eight pound padding that will make the floor extra cushy.

So there. you. go. -- the process that we went through to get to our basement flooring decision. We’re hoping to get it installed in May – I’m hoping for earlier in the month, because every time we come up from the basement we track drywall dust all over the house. It’s driving me a little bonkers. :)

What type of flooring do you have in your basement? Am I the only one who would never have though of carpet for a lower level? What color would you go for? I’m leaning toward one with a gray undertone instead of brown, that’s what we have upstairs and I’ve been happy with it. And it will go well with the paint colors…more on those soon. :)

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  1. Yep. Check! Right on! We had the very same dilemma when we finished our basement this time last year. Thought on it from every angle like you just said!

    It's like you plucked this right outta my brain. :)

    And we came up with the same decision too. It's cold down here, and we thought with any other flooring. . . it would feel cold, dark, hard, and maybe even kind of unfinished. We're happy with it though!

    Love what you picked!

  2. I like the bottom left, of the six in the middle picture. Looks grey to me, so maybe it's the same one you love also. I thought I might be the first commenter, but at least I get to be the second!:) I like the carpet too, some friends of mine have tile, and their basement is SO COLD.

  3. We have finished 2 basements so far, and opted for carpet in both. We actually chose the same carpet you did for the first basement. We loved it, but it ended up not being a good match for us. Looped carpet is tough with dogs and kids. It pulls on the dog's toenails and on the kid's toys. I was constantly cutting the loops that had pulled out. So, in the second basement, we opted for the frieze. So far, so good! Can't wait to see the finished pics!!!

  4. We have that type of carpet on our second floor and stairs. It looks great but will get the occasional pull if my pooch hasn't had his mani-pedi in awhile. ;). I think you'll love it. So many color options. Ours is a medium oatmeal colour which helps to hide a plethora of sins. I'm very excited to see your basement transformation! We still have to do ours. A daunting task to say the least. The only thing we've decided on is the layout and cork flooring.

    Laurie@The Baking Bookworm

  5. Oh my gosh - we have a lot of experience with this. Our basement was originally carpeted with a really rough berber style carpet. Then our basement had flooding issues and we had to remove it and it stunk so bad. We had our basement tiled and since then no water problems!!

    So in 2008 we replaced it with something that looked the same as the $4 per foot you showed - I swear it is exactly the same! We got a great deal on it through our CarpetOne since it was a remnant.

    2 years later - water fixture bursts on master bathroom and floods entire house including our super soft carpet. The carpet was a total loss as well as our original 1930's hard wood floors. So replaced it with something like in the 2nd picture. Not as soft, but same general pattern.

    We have cats, no kids or dogs - but the carpet still looks great. Its only been 2 years though.

    The master bedroom carpet is a plush that is made of corn - it so soft! Soft enough to sleep on.

  6. A few more things. 've renovated the same basement twice in 5 years now so I know the pitfalls - hah!

    Add more heating ducts! We missed doing it the first time and had to use electric heaters to supplement. It gets cold in Iowa! The 2nd time around we added more ducting and it was cheap for our contractor to do it while they were here. Around $300 for 3 rooms. It is worth it.

    We also put cheaper glue-down vinyl flooring in the bathroom and laundry room.

    Also run your any cabling now while the walls and ceilings are open. We ran ethernet (network cable), coax for tvs, and speaker cable for the tvs My husband and I are both engineers and this was important to us. I think it's also a good selling feature if you ever decide to move. We sometimes wish we would have pulled more cable.

  7. We have a partially finished basement; still awaiting the trim and flooring. We decided on this product:
    When done, depending on the colors you choose, it looks a lot like terrazzo floors. We all do messy crafts and projects and for half the year our garage is too cold to work out there, so we end up doing even woodworking in the basement. We thought that a hard surface was a better choice than carpet. We currently have area rugs on top of the cement, and will continue to use them after the floor is finished. This has the added bonus of only costing a couple hundred for the whole basement. Even if the basement never gets water from outside, there is always the chance of broken pipes, washing machine catastrophes, and overflowing toilets to threaten carpets, and I'd rather keep the rugs down to a size that can be pulled out and laid in the sun.

  8. We have Pergo in a hand scraped cherry style....gorgeous! It has been seven years and has withstood workouts, school projects, tap shoes, and countless parties. We also had carpet installed in our previous home. Nice to have carpet when the kids are little. Jane

  9. Funny, I was the exact opposite - I always thought you had to install carpet in basements because of the leak issues. We have carpet and I love it. It's just so much more cozy (and isnt that the point of a basement?)

  10. Hi here,First let me say that i love your blog, there is no day that i dont check on it, i live in Utah but i'm from Guatemala, anyways I believe my house has the same carpet that you pick if not very very similar, I love it it is nice and not sure that color but i can find out if you like and they put something on it that everytime my kids spill something is just a bubble on top, and i have a 5 year and almost 2 year , my house was a parade of home house but just so u all know i did not pick the house hubby did ( yes i was mad) but it does not look like this now we change colors on walls and i dont have the nice furniture that they had on it , but i do love my carpet and also the backsplash on the kitchen witch is the same wood on the floor,you can see it on this link
    anyways good luck and your house is looking great thanks to you, my hat off for you.

  11. It's funny- I was sure that carpet was the only real option for basements! Of course, I live in the desert, so we don't really have any flooding issues...ever.
    We're also finishing up our basement now and I'm just chomping at the bit, wanting to look at paint chips and carpet samples, but we're a lot farther back in the process than you are. We have to change a bunch of plumbing around (our next big expense), then cut larger windows in the foundation (our house is about 60 years old and just has the 1'x2' windows, no wells) and then we'll finally be able to get to the rest of of the framing. And THEN I'll get to start thinking about carpet samples for real. I'm not going to lie, I'm a little envious. Not too much, though, because (like you) I don't mind taking my time about house decisions. Hopefully all the extra time will pay off with something I'll love for a long time, right?
    Love seeing the progress you made; hooray for finished basements!

  12. Just an fyi, I have used the peel n stick in 3 rooms on concrete, at first you don't think it's sticking but after a day or so it's stuck, I don't have any trouble with mine moving at all. Basement is looking good, can't wait to see it done! And as for carpet, I think it's a good plan, think of all the dust bunnies in all the corners with tile or wood.

  13. We have carpet in our basement {with the exception of my craft room} and I am very happy with it. It's actually very close {if not the same} to the carpet you chose. It definitely gives it a more cozy feeling and it wears well. Sounds like your basement is coming along wonderfully!

  14. When we had a basement (when we lived in the North where they actually HAVE basements!), it was carpeted. Just from the warm factor alone, I wouldn't have used anything else!

  15. My basement is actually a cellar and there is no way I will ever make it into something pretty! However, everyone I know who does have a basement has carpet in the living spaces and vinyl or tile in the bath (obviously) and laundry room. I think it is important to note your comment about padding. You made a great decision. Never go cheap on the padding. You can put higher end padding under cheaper carpet and have great results. If you put cheap padding under good carpet, the carpet will mat down and show traffic patterns in a very short time.

  16. My parents live in Michigan and have had our basement flood quite a few times, unfortunately. Luckily, the worst they ever had was before they started finishing the basement, so when it came to finishing, they were aware of the dangers. They are finishing it room by room, so to avoid the really cold concrete and possible flooding issues, they built the floor up off the floor - about 1 1/2" or so. It really makes a difference with such cold concrete! They then carpeted over that, I couldn't really tell you if it was frieze or not, but it has held up pretty well, and since the water never reaches over there or to that high, they have no problems with smell.

  17. We remodeled our basement last year and put frieze carpeting in - and we love it. One of the advantages of frieze over berber is if you do have a stain or something - they can cut out a piece and replace just that piece (they heat seal the new piece in or something) can't do that with berber! I also agree with the comment on the padding...makes a big difference!

  18. I actually prefer carpet in the basement becuase then it seems less basement-y, and more homey like the rest of the house. We have had carpet in both of our basements, and I really like it. The only thing I would change in our house is the color of it. (We didn't choose it, btw). It's a really light beige, and with kids, it shows EVERYTHING. Just this weekend I pulled out the carpet cleaner and cleaned it like a madwoman. Good as new. :-). Can't wait to see your come together. I think you're going to be happy with your decision. :-)

  19. The cut & loop you found resembles the jute/Triscuit! looking one you found orginally for $4. per sq ft.

    I know you aren't asking if we like it, but I do. :) The quote seems really grand! Maybe this installer doesn't have/isn't paying for a showroom? Wow, great connection.

    You have some towels & rugs or remnants at the top of the steps? To keep the drywall dust on feet down?

    I think carpet will make it very cozy. Will you do something different in the laundry room? Stick tile?


  20. We have carpet in our basement. We went with a slightly lighter color than we normally would choose because there is only one tiny window in our basement. The lighter color makes the basement brighter. I'd definitely recommend a dehumidifier, especially this time of year when temperatures are mild and the furnace or the A/C isn't being run. I'm amazed how much moisture can be pulled from the air in the basement and it keeps the basement smelling fresher.

  21. We have the very same carpet that you chose! It was installed by the previous owners in our finished basement the month before we purchased our house. It still looks brand new, 12 years later (and I have three kids and two kitties who have not been declawed). Ours is an oatmeal color and has held up much better than the very expenisve cream carpet we installed in the bedrooms (obviously picked cream pre-children...what was I thinking??). So excited for you!

  22. Have you thought about FLOR carpet squares? We have those over concrete in our living room. We have an area in there that can flood occasionally during heavy storms. The FLOR Squares are so easy to clean-- you just pull one up, rinse it off and lay it outside to dry and in a day or so it's like it never happened. We have 4 dogs as well- so it's made clean up after their messes easy too! They are a little more expensive than regular carpet but I think I will forever use them in my house due to the ease of use and install! I love them!

  23. We have carpet in our basement for the most part. We have a section of laminate by the walk out area. The bathroom has vinyl. We also put in a subfloor, which is expensive but it does two things for us. 1. It makes the hard concrete floor-feel go away. 2. If we did have water down there for some reason it gives it room to dry out under the carpet.

  24. I'm having a similar dilema, coming from the UK where we don't have basements it's all new territory to me! I would love carpet cos I hate cement floors with a passion but I have noticed that around July/August each year I got wet spots so I was afraid to get carpet and end up mouldy and musty. Then I read the comment above about a dehumidifier!
    The spots I have are right where the pipe underneath from the sump pump to the drain runs...obviously the cold pipe and the warm room (the sun pitches right on that spot) = condensation! So thanks I think I know what I need to do!

    Oh and I LOVE you choice of carpet...I think it's perfect!

  25. I knew nothing about basements, until I married my husband. In Arizona we don't have basements, but his family lives in Iowa and their basement is huge! They went with a really thick shag carpet, and everyone loves it. Even though they have plenty of soft comfy seating, we all end up hanging out sitting on the carpet. I loved it so much that I went and bought a remnant of the same carpet and had it edged so it could be a rug in our rental. When we finally have our own house with a basement (a must in my opinion) it will probably have the same carpet.

  26. "Happy Endings" - Penny

    We had this carpet in our master bedroom and it wears really well. Also, because of the weave of the carpet (the "waffle" pattern), it hides stains, not that any good housewife would leave a stain unattended.

  27. i have carpet tiles.ang

  28. Definitely carpet! If for no other reason the noise. When the Bub gets older and wants to be down there with his buddys the noise will have nowhere to go but up with hard surface flooring. The carpet will absorb the noise and keep it feeling warm! Good choice. I went with a carpet from Lowes sort of a berber with a diamond pattern cut throughout in an oatmeal it! The lighter color and the high/low cut out pattern cover any "debris" or stains that may occur

  29. We have a very similar carpet in the upstairs bedrooms, though I wish I had gone with a little bit darker color. We live pretty close to Dalton (carpet capital!) so were able to get a good deal on a remnant roll.
    I'm glad you didn't go with the frieze- we had that in a previous house and had to get it restretched after only a year- as has everyone else I've ever talked to who had frieze.

  30. Just finishing up our basement also, and we chose carpet for the most areas and the vinyl plank for the kitchen area and under the pool table. It is stuck together with the tabs and has not been a problem at all. The only thing is I wish it had a bit more of a gloss, but may try to put a mop on finish on it myself to improve the look. We chose a plush carpet even though I really thought I wanted something very similar to what you are looking at, however, I realized it might increase the cost due to the matching aspect. I do really like the plush and it is so cozy feeling. I have had berber before in a basement and knew I did not want that again as it snags and rips out stitches. Sounds like you are well on your way. PS, The finishing is such tedious and hard work. I still have caulking and touch up to do on all the board and batten, but I think it will be worth it in the end. Hope you have smooth sailing. Sure enjoy your blog everday!!! Linda

  31. We have a little one and we went with Behrs concrete stain. Love it! I made mine look like natural stone and it made our imperfections look natural. 1000sq ft of floor for $100! The floor is surprisingly warm (we did insulate though). It is great. We push the furniture and my daughter rides her tricycle all around when it is rainy or cold. We also put in a ventless fireplace. I agree with above... Utilize air ducts. Makes a great difference. And insulate. Such a small cost that is so worth it.

  32. Hi! We have carpet like that in our basement and a loft area upstairs. Please do a walk test on a large sample first. The one in our basement is soft, but the design in our loft seems to be really defined so it is really uncomfortable on bare feet. I love seeing your projects coming together.

  33. YOu can not go wrong with carpet in a basement. It's the only thing that will give it a feel like it is a continuation of the rest of the house. I did a heavy padded berber and I LOVE IT!!!! I wouldn't change a thing!

  34. My in-laws put carpet in their basements as well, however, they found carpet tile that had a pad built into each one. This was extremely helpful when their basement flooded and they were able to quickly pull out the carpet tiles to get to all the water. They had to replace the tiles, but it was much less of a hassle than if they had one large piece of carpet. Just food for thought! :) I wish we could make our basement into something useful, great job on yours!

  35. Love your carpet decision. Carpet in the basement helps it feel cozy. :)

  36. We have that same carpet in our master bedroom - installed it about six years ago. It has worn pretty well, and we've been happy with it. It is kind of matted down in the areas that see more traffic, but that's going to be the case with any carpet.

  37. I love that you're always blogging about the same projects I'm working on! A local company in Mich. has a product for basements called Envirocushion for padding I may check out:

    Ah-mazing - Penny from Happy Endings,love her! (and I'm sad when I say it that no one knows what I'm talking about!)

    I will definitely look into that carpet too!

  38. FYI, we installed carpet before that looks like the last pic. There will be visible seams. Anything that has a pattern like that can not look seamless. It drove me nuts. : ) We have all vinyl plank in this house and have been thrilled with it. Mannington adura ashford walnut and I use throw rugs where needed.

  39. I don't have a basement so I don't have anything down there. LOL
    I will say that one of my friends put in in-floor heat and then ceramic tile and that basement is a beauty!

  40. We are finishing our basement and the salesman at the flooring dept introduced us to something called Adura (not sure about the spelling) It is vinyl but looks SO GOOD. One of the choices I wanted looked like high end tile and they actually put grout lines in it. But the one I chose looks like wood floor...I mean EXACTLY! I didn't want tile because its SO cold down there and they said this stuff is the "new" thing for basements. Its softer than tile as well. We also did carpet that matched the upstairs since our stairs have carpet on them....good luck to you! I know its LOTS of work!! :)

  41. I had 4 different basement floor finishes over the years in my home. In order of less favorite to fabulous - vinyl tile, concrete (painted), carpet and cork. Cork was the favorite, hands downs for all of us. Extra padding, so easy to clean and if a square or two was messed up, easy to replace. My floor guy left me 1/2 dozen squares and I "passed along" 3 of them to new owners.

  42. I think carpet is a great idea. I love the gray color in the bottom right. It's such a great neutral that will go with anything.

  43. Wow, I am surprised at how many people have put in carpet! We have only 2 rooms with carpet in this house (bedrooms) and will have no rooms with carpet in the next house. Our basement (well, the lower level of a bi-level) is laminate flooring. But, we first made an insulated subfloor. We used 2x2s to create a frame on the floor and placed thick styrofoam insulation between each 2x2. Then we laid a plywood subfloor and laid the laminate flooring on that. We have had no water issues and if we did, the subfloor would prevent the laminate from being destroyed. Though the floor is cool initially, as soon as you spend a few minutes in one spot, the insulation actually retains the heat and it gets warm quickly. The laminate is SO EASY TO CLEAN! I cannot imagine all that dust and small particles hiding in the carpet. We sweep it regularily and wash it occasionally. We love it and would do it all over again. However, I completely understand that when hubby has a strong opinion, you better listen! :) I hope you love your choice.

  44. I actually sell that carpet you chose and it is a very good carpet. It wears really well. We have a similar basement situation going on and I chose to paint the floors because we sometimes get water. It's rare but if there is any dampness, carpet is not a good choice so I am compensating with really cool patterned rugs! Tile is also a great choice because it is less per square foot and more wearable, but also permanent since it is glued right to the concrete floor. I just opted for the paint though and am really happy:)

  45. I love your carpet choice!

    We had all sorts of carpet issues when we built our house (turns out the carpet was defective) so the fooring company came in and replaced it all for us. They were kind enough to order far more than they needed and left us with enough carpet to finish the basement bedroom and family room! It's a higher end carpet than we would have chosen, but it's free! FREE!

    The rest of the basement will be done in hardwood and Duraceramic. We're using DRIcor as our subloor so are hopeful not to have any water issues.

  46. I work in the flooring industry, and I can tell you that: a) Mohawk (which is what I think you've got there) is one of the best residential, low budget brands out there. They're also super friendly, and are a great source to turn to when you've got questions. b) Cut and loops are also known as berber patterns, which are gorgeous and squishy and gorgeous! The most low maintenance carpet type out there, they're generally used in commercial construction like office buildings, hospitals and multifamily homes. They're not as fancy as other types, but they're a subtle (and CHEAP) happy place for hands and knees and feet alike.

  47. We put a cut-and-loop carpet in (Stainmaster, 25 year warranty, darker brown in the family room and first stairs, lighter tan/sand color on main stairs and upstairs, pretty sure it was Mohawk) with almost that exact pattern - got it from Lowe's. One thing I have to say - it did NOT wear well at all on the stairs! I was so surprised and disappointed, because at the store they told us it would wear the best of all of them. It was really soft and we loved the pattern, and in the flat main areas it was okay (it did start showing some pretty serious wear in our main room after about 3 years though), but it was horrible on the stairs! Flatter than flat, and dirty and discolored, and nothing I did seemed to help. Maybe it was because we went with just standard padding instead of an upgrade? (Our new house has 9-yr-old frieze, builder grade, carpet on the stairs, and it looks better than the newer cut-and-loop in our old house.) Oh, and we don't wear shoes inside, and the carpet was STILL hashed on the stairs. :(

  48. I just read through all previous comments since I have no experience with finished basements.

    The ideas I liked the most were to build a frame, insulate and flooring on top with throw/area rugs. You could always have the edges bound for an area rug in the carpet you like, but in the event of any water problem you could easily remove to outside for cleaning/drying. Hubby could have wall to wall in his office!

    In the houses I grew up in and have owned over the years, basements were considered finished if they had pored concrete walls & floor or just a concrete floor & stone/cement walls! For now, I guess mine will stay finished in that sense, as you've inspired me to do so much on my 1st & 2nd floors!

    Guerrina in CT

  49. Long time lurker... had to comment on this one!

    We finished our basement 2 years ago and installed berber and I still love it. It is cozy and warm and we have not had any water issues. And I am not a big fan of carpeting (we have hardwood and tile throughout the rest of the house).

    Our home is only 7 years old, however, and when we built it we had a very good french drain system installed so that water would not be an issue.

    ALSO my mom has the EXACT carpet that you are considering. She has had it for about 4 years and it looks great. It is also cozy. HOWEVER, she choose a taupe/beige that turned out to look pretty ROSY against her furnishings. I would request a large swatch.

    Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!! A finished basement really changes your life, especially during the teen years! :) So great to have that added space when there is a group of 10 fourteen year old boys in the house!

  50. We finished out basement last year and decided to go with carpet. Our family room and play room are downstairs, so I thought carpet would be better for the kids to play on or for someone to lay on and watch t.v. I also think it gives the basement a warmer, more comfortable feeling.


  51. We have carpet in our basement and I loathe it. It wouldn't be so bad if the carpet was actually decent, but it's the cheapest carpet I've ever seen. The guy who built our house finished the basement as a last ditch effort to sell the house before he foreclosed. Therefore it was done as cheaply as possible, and boy does it show. Getting new flooring down there is on our to-do list, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with engineered hardwoods in the game room and different carpet in the two bedrooms down there. The family I nanny for has tile in their basement, which seems like a cold choice, but it's heated, and boy is it cozy in the winter!

  52. I just went through the whole process of choosing what was best for our basement remodel. We didn't want the cold and hardness of tiles, but since we have a dog, and it will be a high traffic area, we were afraid of carpet.. so we went with commerical carpet tiles instead, and found a nice warm greige color! We are super excited to have it installed, and love that it will be super durable, warm, feel good under our feet, and if anything ever happens to a piece, it's completely replaceable since they are tiles (we will get approx. 8 extra tiles in our order since they round up square footage!). If you are willing to install yourself, you can find tiles online quite cheap!

  53. I forgot to mention what we went with..

    Consultant tile by shaw- in the color "Billable Hours"

  54. Wow. Thanks for the ideas and for sharing your trials and tribulations. We are embarking on a full basement reno ... really need the extra space due to having an art studio and business in the house. I'll be back to read more and possibly post questions as we move forward.
    Thanks! Linda Irvine

  55. Amazing ... From Fatherbof the Bride? The little designer guy. Anyhow I have carpet in my basement and there are no problems, plus we use our basement like a family room so comfy is an issue. I like your choice.

  56. I finally have some good advice for you - I'm usually just taking your advice!! Anyway, same issue with me and my hubby when we did our basement. He was very strongly in favor of carpet and I didn't want it at all. So, I finally let him have his way and it was the best. decision. ever. Not only did he use a thick pad, but he put down a layer under the pad that is for water protection. I, unfortunately, don't know the name of it, but it is shiny silver and added SO much comfort. People are shocked that they are walking on a basement floor because it is just that cushy and awesome. I can find out it your interested.
    kleinsmith5 at charter dot net

  57. I was ridiculously opposed to carpet in the basement--for the very reasons you outline!--but it turned out that we had that decision made for us. We have a home theatre in the biggest basement room, and the guys at Audio Advice said, "You need carpet." An acoustical thing that I don't completely understand, but I complied with it. I chose a carpet that's got a bit of variegation, all in various shades of dirt. It's been great.

    HOWEVER, in our basement workout room, we have a vinyl floor. It looks very much like slate (I'm not kidding). Vinyl gets a bad rap; the good stuff is actually a great product.

    Good luck!!

  58. Hi,

    In our last place, we had carpet in the play/bedroom area and just concrete (painted) in the laundry area. If you have ANY water issues, or the potential for them, you really need to get them fixed before putting down carpet--or you might regret it. And putting in a subfloor or other type of barrier can help with moisture and warmth issues. As for the workout area, if you want to keep the look continuous (ie, all carpet), you can always put those foamy, big black tiles down (we've done this). We put them together and then taped them to each other so that they wouldn't shift when placed over the carpet. Then we turned the whole, large "mat" around so the tape was underneath. It didn't move around because we had the treadmill on one part and I think a small weight storage bench on another side. I loved it because then I did not worry about wearing down/dirtying the carpet, and it was also very cushy, which is great for the joints :).
    Good luck, everything is looking FANTASTIC!!!!

  59. Are you not installing a vapor barrier between the concrete and finished flooring? Also, what about extra insulation for your floor? Dri-core tiles or other types of insulation designed for basement floors. You had no mention of any type of flooring insulation, just curious as to why.

  60. When we built, I thought about the same issues regarding carpeting in the basement. But then I checked out commercial carpeting that is used in stores, theaters and in many public buildings. They have to deal with snow, water, mud, dirt, salt, etc. that gets tracked in and not have problems with mildew, mold or smell because of it. I am happy to report that it was the best decision we made to install commercial carpet. The carpeting had been saturated with water several times along with dirt, mud, snow, etc. and even after 20+ years it looks as good as the day it was installed. Commercial carpets are made to be mold and mildew resistant and extremely rugged and ours was all of that and has withstood the test of time, too.

  61. I think you made a great choice, especially if moisture hasn't been an issue for you all. We had a "carpet guy" a few years back, and it was amazing to see the difference between his prices and the big box stores. Love the choices you pulled!

  62. Love your blog. Can you share the name of your carpet person. I'm here in Indy too... Thanks!

  63. Ugh, it just erased my comment...
    We love our Allure flooring that we put in our house 3 years ago. It is waterproof (puddles from the pool don't bother it... not sure about a flood), easy to put in with a box cutter, and looks great. We've had it 3 years ago and it has held up great. We heard lots of people had problems with it coming unstuck but we rolled it with a linoleum roller and have had no issues.
    It does scuff if you drag something across it, but that goes away after awhile. It takes quite a bit to scratch it.
    It is vinyl that sticks to itself, so you don't have to worry about it not sticking to the floor. It is comfortable to walk on.Not as noisy as laminate. We installed it on concrete slab so that would be similar to your basement. Just make sure you get it smooth, because I have a few bumps where I didn't get a bump of concrete smoothed out. I was more careful in the dining room and had no problems.
    No, I don't sell it, or anything else, I just love it. You can check out pictures on my blog at We used cherry.

  64. The name of the show is "Happy Endings!" Amahzing, I know!

    Okay...I am jumping in with a carpet comment or two because you asked.

    We have an expensive frieze room media room...guest room, etc. (Finished attic). Love it. We have lived here over 6 years and it shows no wear and trust me when I say the kids fly in and out all the time. It looks like a longer pile than the pic you show, though.

    Downstairs I have hardwoods except for bedrooms. I went with a larger squared pattern of cut and loop. Initially I was going to have this upstairs as well, but the carpet guy said that the media room is over 15 feet wide and 26 feet long. The carpet would have to be pieced/seamed almost down the middle since the carpet only came in 15 feet across width rolls. He said the cut and loop pieced would not do well in highly traffic areas and could possibly start to unravel. I was so sad. I really loved the cut and loop. However, I went with the frieze and STILL LOVE it. I wanted all the carpet to match in the area upstairs so we went with the frieze all over. It does tend to relax a bit at times. It is hot here in the south so with a finished attic and heat rising and all I think the contract/expand is in full force. We get it stretched and tighten to prolong its wear. Only done this once in over 6 years, though.

    Just wanted to tell you my story. Hope it helps or gives you something to think about. Ask the guy about seaming the cut and loop? Guarantees after a year?

  65. Also, we just put in the cut and loop carpet upstairs. Looks like exactly the one you are thinking about. It is Dakota color, which is a bit darker when it is down than I expected, but pretty nice. It does track a lot, but that is starting to lesson now, 6 months in. Here are pictures

  66. When we moved in, the previous owners had finished our basement with carpet in the main living area and laminate in the wet bar area. Our basement flooded (sump pump we have a backup one!) and we had very "squishy" carpet that had soaked up all the water. We called in a restoration company and they did a PHENOMENAL job of drying everything out! They salvaged the carpet, but the laminate was destroyed. We replaced that with tile. I love having carpet and even after our flooding episode, there isn't any smell at all (like I said, this company was goooood).

  67. No carpet for us. We just finished our basement and left the concrete but used an epoxy sealer on it. Every day we have at least 5 kids down there (ages 2-13)doing everything from roller skating, craft projects, gaming, sleep overs, etc. They were adamant about no carpet. They want to pay with all their roll-y things. I have an area rug for the couch area. Good luck with your carpet.

  68. Hi, I would like to suggest that you take a hint from your prior experience with carpeting in the dining room (former dining room) that you "hated." You will come to hate carpeting in the basement, too. Fur out the basement floor, lay subflooring on top of it, be sure you waterproof your concrete and lay a plastic vapor barrier down before you fur it out, and go with synthetic flooring. Unless you live in the Sahara, it just seems wisdom not to lay down any kind of flooring that can't handle a modicum of dampness now and then. And that is not carpeting.

  69. I LOVE your carpet selection! But I do want to caution you a little.
    We carpeted our basement last year when we finished it out.
    The carpet I selected is VERY similar to what you have.
    If you have a long run (the largest room of my basement is 17ft x careful. Carpet spools have a certain amount of skew to them, no matter what. And if you have long straight runs...the lines / patterns aren't always perfectly straight.
    These are tough carpets to lay in long areas. Just something to consider.

    With the furniture down, it's not as noticable...but I'm picky and if I'd known this wasn't the best choice for my long run, I would have selected a more forgiving pattern.

  70. Amazing you capert choice,congratulations.

  71. I think we had this carpet in our living room (or a very similar one) and I have to be honest, it was NOT great! Although I loved it when I saw the samples, it does not translate into a great carpet. It kind of has a "sheen" (might not be the right word) to it which isn't bad except that when it is walked on it always looks worn! Steps were the worst. The middle of the steps (where the traffic is) gets all "smashed" down and the outer portion of the steps (where there is no traffic) looks new. This carpet looked older in 6 months than the carpet I had pulled up which was 10+ years old. Hate to be a downer but wanted to pass along my experience. Sorry!

  72. We bought our home a couple of years ago and actually pulled tile out of the basement and put in carpet because the kids hated playing on the hard floor down there. Best decision ever!

  73. I think I have that exact same carpet upstairs! Great pick.
    We did cork in our basement...did you look at that?

  74. We have a half finished basement. The finished half is a playroom for our oldest/office for my husband. The carpet was old and gross, hard, stiff and uncomfortable. The radiator had issues and flooded the basement really bad. We fixed the radiator and are getting new carpet installed next week! I cant wait for our nice new soft carpet!

  75. amy in saratoga, nyApril 18, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    I am finishing a basement. My contractor is trying to talk me into only using carpet but I was so against it. I was determined to find something else. I looked into cork!! That was what I wanted first but then there is teh labor of laying it. Looks great htough--warm in winter and cool in summer--sounds perfect! Tehn I looked at really nice laminate. Also needs to be installed at a hefty price. I even looked at high end vinyl that looks like tile, stone, HW...but even that was going to cost $1200 to install it in 900sq ft. I am at a loss! Was thinking about having my very untalented husband install laminate with a friend (we would pay him to be handy) until I read your blog I might just give in and go with carpet since so many people commented on loving it. I have a very dry basement. I must say though--i lvoe your choices...The berber I have in my home was selelcted to look like sisal--very earthy and less carpety. I know you want soemthing greyer but...just a thought. I think I am going greyer in my basement too--I just did a Ben moore HC color in a clients home and I love it. Def. on the greyer side! Oh--I you need a GREAT runner idea fo rthe stairs--let me know!

  76. amy from saratoga, nyApril 18, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Amy-from Saraotga, ny continued--I love the price you got!! WOw!! Super! If I could get that price my mind might switch back to carpet faster than you can say berber!

  77. amy from saratoga, nyApril 18, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    please ignore my typos!! I am awful at typing!

  78. Well, we don't have a basement, but we did lay the wood-look vinyl strips in our bathroom and walk-in closet this winter/spring that you mention in your post.

    We replaced the carpet with it which was on cement. The tile sticks very well, but we did use a primer first, and scrubbed every last little bit of glue and paint from it. The finished floor is not as cold or hard as cement (which was bare in there for a few weeks while we prepped it) or ceramic tile, and I absolutely LOVE it on my feet. The slight texture on the surface keeps it from being slippery when wet. I like the ease of cleaning and the fact that (especially next to the tub and toilet) it is not likely to mildew or get smelly.

    I am planning to use it in my studio when we remodel in there. I like to roll around in my chair, and carpet makes that impossible; not to mention the ink, paint and other substances that make carpet impractical.

    It does seem like for a basement that carpet would make it warmer. I haven't ever lived with one, but my in-laws had a whole living area, two bedrooms and a small bathroom in a basement for several years. They had carpet throughout.

  79. I cannot seem to post here without it asking me to make a blog. I will try it this way. I had a very long comment. I cannot type it again! I have a lot of experience with this. DO NOT BUY POLYESTER CARPETING. Make sure it is nylon. I read through and didn't see any mention of the type or the ounce weight. Polyester looks very plush in the beginning and because it is cheap, it frays and looks like crap in less than a year. I thought I was getting nylon, the guy said it was nylon and it was poly. I had them come over to look at it six months in, and they said "well, that is what you get when you buy polyester." Ounce weight. You did not mention ounce weight. The higher the ounce weight, the better the carpet will hold up. Try for 50 ounces and up. If not, minimum of 30 ounces of NYLON carpet. Run, don't walk, run, run far away from the poly. I live in the Chicago area; basements in the midwest are damp. Low pile and good, but not thick, padding would be best. For water issues, I was told to use felt padding. Not much cushion, but could actually be salvaged after a flood. The padding holds most of the water. I chose padding instead of felt this time, but got a really good, but not so thick one. Hope this helps. I wish someone told me about the poly issues before. Would have saved me $2,000.00.

  80. Thanks for posting this blog. Its really appreciated. I abookmark this blog and will get bcak to you shortly. Now am in search for HVAC Houston.

  81. We won't put carpet in the basement, because of the cats. Their boxes are down there. Our other cats (that have since passed) sometimes went #2 right outside the box, vomited in the basement, and had cystitis. She'd dribble pee here and there. Our new cats are still young and don't have these problems, but I just don't want to clean it up when they do. We went with a peel and stick. There is a product to make the concrete ready to hold the tile and it works great.

    If I didn't have pet issues, I'd for sure go with carpet!

  82. We recently just redid our basement and we choose tile for a number of different reasons. When we were online shopping at a man cave store, we decided we wanted to put a pool and card table in our basement. So when we started thinking about weather tile or carpet, tile won because at the time we had not idea how we were going to set the basement up, so we figured tile would make it easier to move furniture and the big tables. In the end, tile was definitely the best choice.


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