The Best Carpet for the Basement

Basement rec room with carpet and bar area
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Carpet can be a good idea for a floor covering option for a finished basement for several reasons. Carpet is warm, soft, and cushioned, making it ideal for covering the cold cement floor. In addition, you can absolutely carpet a basement floor because carpet is one of the most flexible floor-covering materials. So even if your cement floor is not perfectly level, carpet can be installed right over it, without the need to level the floor or otherwise prep it first.

You might be wondering what type of carpet you should use in the basement, and if there is a certain type that is better for underground living than others. A common concern you may have is whether carpet can withstand a basement's higher moisture levels compared to above-ground living areas of the home.

Here are some guidelines to help you choose the best carpet for the basement.

Use Synthetic

Carpet fibers come in two categories: synthetic (man-made) fibers and natural fibers. Synthetic fibers are the best choice for basements because they are more “breathable”—meaning that they do not retain moisture the way that natural fibers do.

Basements are naturally damp because they are underground. Therefore, your floor covering material has to be able to withstand increased moisture levels. Synthetic fibers are able to release the moisture, to avoid the risk of mold or mildew occurring in or under the carpet.

The majority of synthetic broadloom available today also features synthetic backing material, which is just as essential in allowing the carpet to breathe. Just double-check before you buy, to ensure that the backing is indeed synthetic.

Style Options

In most basements, you can use any style of carpet you like. Depending on how you plan to use your basement space, you can select a carpet that matches your performance needs with your style preference.

Unless your basement suffers from an excessive moisture problem (above and beyond the typical basement dampness) there is no reason that you can’t use looped Berber carpet, or even thick, plush Saxony styles. Really, in a properly finished basement, you can install any style of carpet. All styles are available in a range of qualities, so be sure to choose a carpet that suits your needs. Applying a concrete waterproofing agent prior to carpet installation is an added safety against any possible moisture infiltration which can lead to mold.

Carpet Padding

Most residential carpets are installed over padding. On a cold, hard basement floor, a soft pad is essential for comfort and warmth. Underpad is generally fine to use in a basement, provided it is also synthetic. Opt for a polyurethane foam pad, and stay away from a rubber pad.

If you prefer a carpet that has an attached pad, choose a Kanga style instead of a rubber-backed carpet.


Though you can install a carpet pad and carpet right over cement, it's debated whether or not to install a vapor barrier and a plywood subfloor beneath a costly carpet. Any dampness on your concrete floor can potentially ruin your carpet (and pad) unless it's fully protected from underneath.

When to Avoid Carpet

Please note that the above recommendations are for basements that are finished and generally dry. If you do not have an insulated basement that is protected from outside leaks, or if your basement regularly floods for some reason, then no floor covering is going to be able to withstand those conditions. In such cases, your best bet is to leave your cement floor uncovered. If you wish to have something covering the cement, opt for a piece of inexpensive outdoor carpet that is designed to withstand water—and be prepared to throw it out if necessary. Even outdoor carpet can’t survive repeated or intense flooding.

  • Does carpet make a basement warmer?

    Having carpet on the basement floor adds an extra layer on the floor, acting like insulation, and it will definitely keep your feet warmer.

  • What type of carpet pile is best to use in a basement?

    A synthetic fiber-made carpet that is low-pile or cut-pile is a good choice for laying down on the basement floor as it will dry out quicker and easier than a high-pile carpet.

  • Should you put padding under carpet if installing in a basement?

    Padding will help protect the carpet and give you a softer and more comfortable floor to walk on, too. A foam padding is better to use underneath a carpet when putting on a concrete basement floor.