Basement vs Crawl Space: What’s the Difference?

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You know there’s something down there under your home. It’s underground, dark, and damp… so which is it? A basement or a crawl space?

To figure out what you have in your home, you’ll need to take a closer look. We’ve put together this guide to help you learn how to tell a basement vs crawl space apart, show you why they’re there in the first place, and give you a few ideas about how to use them.  

So make sure you keep reading below to get started! 

Is a Crawl Space the Same Thing as a Basement?

No, but they are similar. 

Many people (incorrectly) use these two terms interchangeably, which can make it confusing to figure out what type of space you have underneath your house. It can also make it more difficult to figure out what you’re getting without a detailed tour if you’re buying a new home. 

However, crawl spaces and basements have a few distinct differences, starting with the list below. 

The Size 

As a general rule, basements are much larger than crawl spaces. The average basement is about 8 feet tall whereas most crawl spaces are only 3 feet tall, leaving just enough room for you to crawl around on your hands and knees (hence the name). 

Since you can walk around upright in a basement, many families convert this space into an additional living area. Once finished and furnished, you can use a basement as a living room, bedroom, office, etc. Homeowners don’t tend to use their crawl spaces at all, or if they do, it’s for storage purposes only. 

But this isn’t always the case. 

It’s possible to find homes with smaller-than-normal basements and larger-than-normal crawl spaces. How are you supposed to tell the difference then? The next factor plays a major role. 

The Floor

Remember, many people use their basement as an extra living space, so a basement definitely and always has flooring. This flooring might be nothing more than a concrete slab, but there is at least something that cuts off the space from the ground underneath it. 

That’s not true for crawl spaces. The only “flooring” they get is dirt, so if the hole under your house doesn’t have flooring, you have yourself a crawl space! 

The Purpose 

You can use a basement for all kinds of things—not just as an extra room. It can store a lot of items as well, even large pieces like furniture or artwork. 

A crawl space isn’t designed for that type of use. The main purpose of a crawl space is to give you access to your home’s electrical wires, HVAC system, ductwork, etc.

That doesn’t mean homes that don’t have crawl spaces don’t have access to these things, though. If your home doesn’t have a crawl space, odds are you can get to these components in your basement. 

The Airtightness 

Most basements are fully sealed from the outside world. They might be a bit darker and damper than a normal room, but they don’t have leaks, cracks, holes, windows (at least, not windows that can’t close), or any other similar opening. 

Crawl spaces, on the other hand… not so much. Remember, the “flooring” of these spaces is literally dirt. Because of this, they aren’t sealed off from things like cold or hot weather, moisture, pests, etc.

If you have a crawl space in your home, it’s a good idea to get it encapsulated. This will seal it off from the outside, which will make your heating and cooling costs go down, keep pests out, prevent mold growth, and make your home safer and more secure. 

Do Homes Need Both?


Many homes will either have a basement or a crawl space. While some do have both, this is much less common. Some homes may not have a basement or a crawl space at all. 

What determines which one your home has? It all comes down to where you live and the design of your home. In some parts of the country, the average home doesn’t have a basement, but in other areas, a basement is much more traditional. The same is true for crawl spaces.  

Which Option Is Better?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It all comes down to your needs and how you want to use it. 

If you’re buying a new home, think about your storage or living plans. Do you have a lot of items you’ll need to keep somewhere in your home? Do you have a large family or will you need an additional room for extra space?

If so, you should look for a home with a basement. If the only reason you need to access the hole under your home is for maintenance or repair reasons, then a crawl space should suit you fine. 

Basement vs Crawl Space: Maintaining What You Have

When it comes to a basement vs crawl space, there’s one thing that applies to both choices. You need to waterproof/encapsulate the area under your home. Otherwise, you could end up with bad mold, moisture, or pest problems, all of which can be expensive to get rid of later. 

But this isn’t a job you should try to do on your own. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out and give us a call. Our team at Armored Basement Waterproofing will take a look at your basement or crawl space and put together the best plan for your needs!