The Best Materials for an Eco-Friendly Basement Renovation

Considering a basement renovation? Whether you’re interested in putting in guest rooms, building your own home theatre, or dropping in a pool table for a game room, making eco-friendly choices can help you both live more sustainably and possibly save money in the long run. Before starting your renovation, make sure to properly clean out your basement by following these tips on trash-free cleaning.

The different materials you use in your basement can make a serious impact on your HVAC and energy costs in the long run. A poorly insulated basement will retain less heat, meaning your energy bill could soar in the winter. Likewise, in the summer, it can cost more to cool down due to faulty moisture barriers.

So, before you get started with your basement renovation, it’s time to put some real thought into what materials you’re going to use. 

Pick the best material for your basement insulation

Insulation isn’t just something for your above-ground floors and attic. Your finished basement walls need it too. Good insulation helps keep your basement warm when it’s cold out, and cool and dry when it’s smokin’ hot.

During the summer months, when it’s hot and humid out, you can see moisture issues in basements that are poorly insulated. Likewise, in the winter, heating costs can soar if the warmth is seeping out walls without good insulation.

If you’re planning on renovating your basement, considering eco-friendly insulation options is a must-do. Having an energy-efficient basement might be a little more costly than you’d imagine. You can easily estimate costs with Smart Reno’s tool.

Cotton fibres from denim

It sounds weird to use jeans in your insulation, but it’s an eco-friendly choice that’s made with 85 percent recycled material. And, when you’re done with it, the insulation is 100 percent recyclable. You can’t really beat that can you?

It’s not just the recycling factor that makes cotton fibre insulation an attractive choice. It also has exceptional thermal performance that can help increase your HVAC efficiency and decrease electricity costs. For those with basement band practice or a home movie theatre, it provides 30 percent better indoor acoustics over traditional choices—rock on! Finally, it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals that can dilute your indoor air quality, nor should it irritate your skin or respiratory tract.

That’s not to say that denim insulation doesn’t come with it’s downsides. The biggest being the cash you need to throw down to get it. These cotton fibres can cost almost double the more harmful choices. It ranges from $0.85 to $0.90 per square foot depending on the thickness you choose.


While cellulose might sound like something you get on your skin, it is in fact a great sustainable insulation choice for your basement. It’s made of 75 to 85 percent recycled paper fibre. This is an overall safer choice than more traditional insulations when it comes to the actual installation.

At $0.83 per square foot, cellulose is comparable to fibreglass insulation in price. It’s also safer to install than fibreglass as it needs to be handled carefully because its construction can form tiny shards of glass in it. Cellulose is also denser than fibreglass. This means that less material should be needed for your basement renovation project.

Is that not enough to convince you that you should include it in your new basement design? Cellulose can also help minimize the toxins in your home. That means that you can breathe easier when spending time in your new renovated basement.

Stone mineral wool insulation

Do you regularly set up jam sessions in your basement but will pass on throwing recycled denim in your walls? Stone mineral wool insulation might just be the answer to your unfinished basement reno prayers.

This material is high-density, which means it’s great at absorbing sound. It also has a greater rigidity. This means that you can trim it more accurately around outlets and other obstructions that might be hanging out in the walls. It’s also fire resistant.

The cost of stone mineral wool insulation varies between $0.64 – $1.19 per square foot. It could be cheaper or more expensive than the other options, depending on which insulation you go with.

Upgrade to eco-friendly basement flooring

Insulation isn’t the only eco-friendly choice you can make when it comes to basement remodels. Your floor choice also matters. Making a sustainable choice can possibly save you on energy costs in the future, and who doesn’t want this?

If you need help with your renovation, you can also use Smart Reno to find contractors. That way you can get a professional to install your brand new eco-friendly flooring during your basement renovation.

Ceramic tiles

If you’re looking for a hardy, durable floor choice, ceramic tiles might be your answer. This is one of the longest-lasting flooring types that you can find. That means that in the long run you could save time, money, and resources. 

Ceramic is a good eco-friendly flooring type because it’s made of 100 percent natural raw materials that are plentiful. This can help reduce transportation and fuel consumption. In addition, it can help keep your basement warmer due to its higher thermal conductivity.

But that durability and money-saving heat comes at a cost. Ceramic tile flooring can cost between $7 and $14 per square foot.You have to think about the cost of professional installation on top of that.


Natural cork is a renewable resource—making it an ideal option if you’re looking for eco-friendly flooring. Once the bark has been taken from the cork tree, it regenerates and the process is regulated to reduce the risk of permanently harming the environment. It makes for a great flooring pick for eco-friendly basement renovations where you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet due to its natural shock-absorbent nature.

Cork is, however, not the ideal flooring material for damp environments. It needs to be maintained well as even elements as small as crumbs and dirt can scar it over time. Likewise, it needs to be sealed by a wax or polyurethane sealing coat on a regular basis.

It’s a less expensive material than something like natural stone, but can still get pricey if you’re going for a more luxurious vibe. Generally speaking, you’re looking at roughly $5 to $10 per square foot.

Natural stone

When it comes to eco-friendly tiles, natural stone is one of the best picks on the market. Stone is natural and non-manufactured, which means it doesn’t use chemicals, stains, glazes, or solvents in its creation. From marble to dolomite, the right natural basement floor tile can provide you with an elegant design.

What’s nice about natural stone tile is that it’s highly durable and easy to maintain. Overall, if installed correctly and maintained, you should see less waste than with other flooring options.

The downside is that natural stone is more expensive to purchase and install. Depending on the type of stone you’re interested in laying down, you could be looking at between $5 and $25 per square foot. This means that filling a bigger functional space in your basement with natural materials could set you back a lot.

Bring in the basement plants

Not every plant is meant to grow in the basement. With the right equipment, you can grow plants during all seasons, including down in the basement. This might sound like a strange endeavour, but having plants in your basement can seriously improve the space around you.

Geraniums, ferns, ivies, and herbs like jasmine can all be grown in your basement, so long as you provide them with light, warmth, and water (the requirements will vary depending on the plant). Having a few of these guys around can both help to improve the air quality and balance the humidity in the basement. Not to mention, they simply liven the place up.

Making eco-friendly renovation choices

Smart renovation choices can save you time and money in the future, but they might cost you a little more in the beginning. Think about the other areas in your home too. You can renovate your bathroom or kitchen to be eco-friendly too!

Your basement renovation is the next step in making your home more sustainable. If you’re looking for more eco-living tips and tricks, download the free GarbageDay app and have them delivered right to you!

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Never miss your local waste and recycling collection day again! GarbageDay helps keep you up-to-date on your city's collection schedule with timely reminders letting you know which bin to take out as well as tips and tricks to enjoy a more sustainable and eco-friendly home.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.

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