Damp basements are very difficult to finish and decorate. The extra water has the potential to promote mold growth and ruin traditional materials used to finish homes like drywall and carpeting. When considering what flooring to put into a damp basement, keep in mind that you want to give the moisture an avenue to leave the area. Fortunately, there are three flooring options that work great for damp basements.
If you're not concerned about looks, a plain old concrete floor on a slight grade leading to a ground drain can help keep the floor dry. If you are concerned about looks, you can work with an artist to paint the floor with a beautiful design or purchase stencils to put down a beautiful design. Also, you can paint it to look like wood grain, marble, or just stain it a nice shade that you like. You will have to retouch the look every few years as the paint fades and wears, but overall, cement is an inexpensive and beautiful option for damp basements.
2. Interlocking Tiles
Interlocking tiles are a great option for damp basements. Normally, you would find these outside of homes in driveways and on patios. In a damp basement they provide the air circulation needed to help keep the moisture from becoming trapped and stagnant. The great thing about this option is that you can install the tiles yourself with very little work. The tiles simply snap into place. At worst, you will have to cut the tiles to fit corners and the edges of the basement. These tiles will add a little height to the floor, so if there are doors down there, you may need to trim them to ensure they still swing.
3. Laminate or Engineered Floors
The key to installing engineered or laminate hardwood flooring in a damp basement is to first lay a plastic vapor barrier. This barrier will prevent the moisture from seeping up and damaging the laminate floors. Again, this is a fairly simple do-it-yourself project as laminate or engineered flooring is normally installs by clicking the pieces into places. As with the interlocking tile option, you will need to ensure doors are not going to be stuck on the flooring.
As you can see, having a damp basement does not mean you should give up on having stylish basement flooring. You just have to make sure you are considering the extra moisture in the basement when you are choosing a type of flooring.