Basement Heating Options and Tips

cozy finished basement with fireplace

Basement heat can make the space much more comfortable. It also reduces basement humidity and moisture, which can lead to mold or fungus and subsequent asthma and allergies. Here are some basement floor heating options to consider.

1. Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant heating systems are very commonly used in basements. They are clean, energy efficient, and very effective. These kinds of heaters use electricity to function and warm up the basement by heating up the floor from below. Flexible radiation tubes with air or water within are installed under the floor and/or behind wall panels.

Through the radiators, the entire floor is heated up, and the basement stays warm. Since the radiator tubes run beneath the floor, they are invisible. The entire heating system is also sound-free. The only downside of the radiant heating system is that it is expensive and difficult to install.

Hydronic radiant basement floor heating uses hot water to heat the floor. A boiler heats the water. The hot water is circulated through the floor in plastic pipes which have been installed directly in the concrete. The warmth from the hot water seeps through the concrete and heats the basement.

The temperature in different areas of your basement can be controlled with a single thermostat that controls the flow of heated water to various individual tubing circuits in each basement zone.

This type of basement floor heating is very expensive to install, but it can be placed in established homes just as easily as in new homes. A licensed installer must put hydronic radiant floor heating in your basement. It’s not a job for a DIY enthusiast.

man installing hydronic radiant heating system

2. Electric Radiant Basement Floor Heating

This type of flooring can be installed by a DIY homeowner. It is installed directly under most types of flooring, including carpet, wood, tile, and stone. Manufacturers typically suggest that a licensed electrician complete the final electrical hook-up. No other special skills are required. No special tools or previous electric radiant floor heating installation experience are required.

WarmlyYours electric radiant heating systems are ultra-thin; they can be installed by the DIY homeowner or floor covering professional. No special tools or prior installation experience is required.

All you need is a WarmlyYours radiant roll and a simple thermostat control. Final electrical hook-up should be performed by a licensed electrician. The cost is significantly less than that of hydronic radiant floor heating. It's important to make sure your home meets the electrical requirements to run electric radiant basement floor heating.

A dedicated 15-amp or 20-amp circuit is recommended by most manufacturers. It can usually be completed in less than two hours by a licensed electrician.

3. Floor Heating Mats

Floor heating mats are another option. Most models have cables that provide an even spread of heat, so it's guaranteed that there are no hot or cold spots. A fabric backing underneath the heating cables reduces the chance of the mat slipping.

Floor heating mats are very thin. For DIY homeowners, they're available with only one connection cable for easy installation. Floor heating mats create no electromagnetic field. Some sort of covering must be applied over the mats. It's possible to use a large, thick throw rug. Floor heating mats provide enough heat to pass through a thick tile.

These three basement floor heating options should be considered when deciding how to heat your basement. Each offer different positives, which you should weigh.

4. Electric Heater

free standing electric heater

An electric heater is generally heavy-duty and ideal for large basements as it can easily heat the room to 100 degrees Fahrenheit quickly. Inside the heater, there is an element that heats the oil that, in turn, heats the air in your basement.

An electric heater is very economical and easy to use, though unnecessary for a small basement. One also does not have to worry about safety with this kind since there isn’t any exposed element.

5. Baseboard Heater

A baseboard heater is similar to a radiant heating system in that it heats up the flooring, and the warm air rises. In the case of the baseboard heater, cold air is sucked toward the floor and gets heated in a continuous cycle.

This is a hassle-free solution involving no real complicated installation or ducting. These heaters do not take up too much space either. They are also suitable for different types and sizes of basements.

6. Ceramic Heaters

Ceramic heaters have a fan inside which pushes out hot air created by a ceramic heating element. They also come with added features such as a temperature sensor, air filter, tip-over switch, and anti-freezing.

For larger areas, you can buy a ceramic heater that has two heating elements and an oscillating grill. If budget is the main concern, then perhaps ceramic heating systems will suit you best.

7. Propane Gas Heater

If your basement is 300 square feet or smaller, a propane gas heater is perfect. A good thing about these is that they also don’t require ductwork or electrical installation.

8. Fireplace Room

If you live in a cold climate, having a wood stove installed in the basement can be a great way to keep the foundation of your house warm. Basements are usually cold and damp. They are quite costly to keep warm in the winter.

Besides removing excess humidity and keeping your house comfy, a fireplace room in your basement provides you with extra space to relax and do your favorite hobby. Such a basement is a perfect place to store firewood so that it stays nice and dry all winter.


basement with wood floors

The type of flooring you have may be determined based on what you are doing with your basement, and may impact what type of heating is best for you. Will it be a rumpus room, personal gym, laundry room, or den?

Will it be used for entertaining and guest room accommodations, or is it just extended storage space? With these characteristics in mind, the following flooring ideas will help you make a decision about what is best for the space.

The first and most important step when researching basement flooring ideas is to determine the level of moisture in your basement. Without this first important step, you could have a major issue with any type of flooring you install. If there is too much moisture in that space, it could cause curling, adhesive failure, or discoloration.

To determine moisture levels, purchase a Calcium Chloride Kit and an Alkaline Test Kit. These kits will determine two separate, but equally important, moisture combinations in your basement. For more information, speak with the sales representative at your nearby home improvement store.

Here are a few flooring types to consider.

1. Painted Concrete

This is a simple process of sealing the slab, then applying a paint specifically designed for concrete applications. It can be a solid color or you can be creative and do a faux-finished floor to make it look like marble or granite.

Two-color squares can be taped off to create a checkerboard floor or some other geometric pattern. The only limit to painting this type of floor is your imagination. You will need to apply a finishing sealer to prevent scratches and promote color longevity.

2. Rubber Flooring

This type of floor covering is perfect for a rumpus or exercise room. It's cost-effective and easy to install. The material comes in sheets of recycled rubber that need no glue or extra installation materials.

It's an excellent alternative to the cold, hard surface because of its insulating properties, as well as the overall cushioning comfort. This type of flooring can be purchased in interlocking blocks or made-to-order sheets that can be easily rolled and trimmed to fit.

3. Hardwood or Laminate Floating Flooring

These floors are specially designed to be locked into each other without glue or nails. Floating floors rest on a cushioned underlay and are designed to lock in simply by accurate tongue and grooves that join securely together.

These floors are comfortable and warm due to the underlay. They work well when your basement floor is less than perfect. Some hardwoods expand, although concrete doesn't, so not all hardwoods can be an option for this type of flooring. This type of flooring is quick and easy to install.

4. Carpet

basement with carpet

Carpet is always a good option if your basement does not have moisture issues. Since you have determined the room's function, the form of carpet should be an easy choice.

Choose Berber for high traffic and rough use.

Consider a frieze carpet for an exercise room. You will need to do some research for the best carpet cushion or padding to use under your carpet. These come in three types of materials, which are fiber, sponge, and foam rubber.

5. Tile

Tile options include ceramic, porcelain, terra cotta, quarry, glass, laminates, and linoleum. This type of flooring can be complex or simple to install, based on the size and type.

The main disadvantage of this application is that you will need to prepare the existing floor extensively beforehand. Also note that these floors, without some sort of additional heat underlayment, are cold.


Basement insulation is also important and a way to keep the area at a comfortable temperature even without heating.

Basement floor insulation requires much consideration when you are planning improvements or remodeling your home. The basement can be a dank and damp place, depending on the area in which you live.

It can also be highly susceptible to flooding. There are ways to protect your basement from extensive water damage and prevent it from breaching the foundation of your home. Check with experts for advice on your particular home.


Each home is different; each set of circumstances will differ. There is no one specific solution for every single home; therefore, you must be aware of the conditions your own home is in.

If your basement will be ‘finished’ and actually used as an extra room in your home, you need to think about dampness protection. Certain climates have unique conditions which will dictate the level of insulation required.

The depth of the basement compared to the foundation of the house will also be a major factor. Dampness protection is the most vital protection that you will need.

Even if the climate in which you reside is dry and warm most of the year, you might still have issues with condensation and dampness in the dark underground places. Your basement may be merely a small crawlspace that cannot be utilized as a room that needs consideration too.


hands installing subflooring material

If your basement has a concrete slab floor, then you should carefully consider installing a vapor diffuser layer, which will prevent water and damp damage from coming through the foundations of your floor and damaging the basement area. Plastic layers and water-retardant materials are usually used between the floor layers to keep out water vapor.

You may need to construct a raised floor to separate the concrete and vapor membrane to allow for air circulation. Always use pressure-treated wood for the floor joists; pressure-treated wood will stand heavier abuse than untreated wood.

Lay shorter cross members to support the floor. You can opt for blanket insulation under the floor of your basement to block moisture and keep the warmth. If your subframe is a grid, you will have to cut the blanket insulation into squares in the size of the spaces, then placed the floor on top.

You can use foam board insulation to protect your basement. Foam boards are rigid insulators that provide excellent thermal insulation. Most foam boards are polyurethane or Styrofoam and offer a firm base of protection against moisture accumulation.

Lay plywood sheets to create a subfloor over the insulation. Pressure-treated plywood is the best type because it better resists damp, cold, and wet conditions.


Basement floor insulation will not prevent your home from flooding, but it will prevent the damage from becoming totally unmanageable. There are varying degrees of flooding. Anything over 2-inches of water is considered a flood.

Unless your basement has excellent drainage, you may find that the water will have no way to exit the space. In such an event, it will seep into the floor, causing serious damage. Blanket insulation will hold water and expand if it is exposed for too long of a period.

Floating Subfloor Systems

Check out subfloor heating systems on Amazon.

The construction industry has come up with a solution for cold, damp basement floors—floating subfloor systems. While there are numerous manufacturers of these systems, they all work essentially the same way. They create a moisture-proof air gap between the concrete floor and the basement flooring.

They are usually built from either plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), bonded to a corrugated underlay in 2' x 2' tongue and groove panels that fit tightly together. A floating subfloor keeps a basement floor warm and comfortable.

Manufacturers claim the engineered wood floor won't warp, split, or peel. The panels are alleged to be strong enough to support heavy furnishing or things like a treadmill or a pool table, too. Most back up these claims with warranties of up to 25 years.

You can install carpet, laminate, engineered flooring, ceramic tiles, or vinyl tiles on top of the panels. (Vinyl tiles require a 1/4-inch plywood subfloor, while ceramic tiles need a base of cement board.) The floating subfloors are comfortable to walk on since the soft underlay has a little "give" to it and softens each step.

The panels must be installed on a level surface, so the basement floor must be leveled beforehand. It will be difficult in basements that don't have much headroom since the panels are about 1-inch thick.


If you are looking to keep your finished basement comfortable even during cold winter months, you will need to figure out what heating option and flooring is the best for you, as well as add insulation.