Q: What’s the best type of economical flooring to put down if I want to complete a semi-finished basement, as you’ve written about before? I need additional indoor space quickly and economically. Do you recommend a specific brand of rubber floor tile? Should I use a subfloor tile underneath any rubber tiles? I also want to coat my walls with Drylok waterproofing paint, but leave the painted concrete exposed. Would that be okay? I know you mentioned painting your walls with 100% acrylic paint in your basement finishing course, so that’s why I ask.
Independent testing by Consumer Reports and others has shown that Drylok is a highly effective masonry waterproofing product. Apply it to basement walls before finishing to help ensure mold-free performance.
A: A semi-finished basement is one that has been made more comfortable than an unfinished basement, but in the most economical and simplest way possible. Some sort of basic floor covering and paint on the walls and open frame ceiling is the usual approach and it works well for creating additional living space on a budget. Rubber floor tiles are certainly an option, but some people don’t like the smell they give off (for a while, anyway). Also, is your basement floor flat and dry all the time? OSB-based subfloor panels are warmer than rubber and they work well as a finished floor on their own, without anything on top. They can even handle a bit of leaked water underneath without trouble and OSB panels can also be painted. This is the cheapest, easiest and most durable option for making a semi-finished basement floor more comfortable and pretty. The all-foam interlocking subfloor panels are the warmest of all, but they need some kind of finished floor over top for protection.
As for wall paint, Drylok is one of a very few brush-on products that works well to make masonry waterproof. The only issue with Drylok is that it needs to be applied over bare concrete. Applied over existing paint it won’t offer the same waterproofing properties.
The subfloor tiles I’m talking about are widely available and easy to work with. I made a video tutorial on the process of installing basement subfloor plans. You can watch below for free. This video is one of dozens that are part of my How to Finish Your Basement online course.