We will be finishing our basement in our new house - over the next two years or so. Eventually, we will put down flooring in most of the basement (although some parts will remain unfinished). Originally, we were going to put down two part epoxy but also considering paint to save money. Are there advantages of using epoxy over paint? We will be using the unfinished basement as a gym and craft room until it is finished.
This completely depends on your expectations. I paint my room every 5-6 years with the basic grey basement paint. It scratches, you mop with hot water or bleach, it peels. Not too bad but after a few years it doesn't look perfect, but certainly better than the dirty, rusty concrete that was there before it.
And I have a full squat rack and 800 pounds of weights. So moving that stuff might scuff or scratch the paint too.
Epoxy garage floor kits (2 parts). The good... they look nice and feel nice. The bad... they are made to go on smooth concrete. Basement floors are a bit rough, meaning harder to clean and get a solid bond. I have had these peel just like paint.
latex paint - cheap, easy, not messy at all, but I have mentioned before it will peel for sure.
drylok type paint (concrete moisture paint) - same as latex, handles water better on cleanups but bleach/cleaners not so much.
oil based paints - have had great results with these in rentals. People will say they aren't environmentally friendly... but it works. Throw down oil based paint on a basement floor it will far outlast any other type of paint including epoxy. It is just an absolute mess to put down and does not clean up off of things so you really have to do a clear out.
concrete stain - will last forever, might require a lot of prep so the stain takes, and unless you do a lot of grinding and smoothing floor won't be that much nicer to walk on. Also very costly to do right.
"rubber" coating. Friend just bought the roll on rubber to redo a front porch. Comes with the rubber plus scrappy top coat - it is basically what you see being used in playgrounds. He had a ton left over so did the laundry room in the basement. Looked great, pretty costly, like walking on a fluffy sponge... Time will tell on the clean up and how it works. Not sure I would ever suggest this but an option.
And if you are finishing it and want something dynamic, might I suggest fully vinyl click lock flooring. Sold at HD, Menards and tons of places online for 2.5+ a sq/ft. These things can sit in water, be washed top to bottom and you can cut them after/as you put up walls. Or just pull them apart and reuse. You could lay down a 1000 sq/ft basement in couple hours with 3-4 people and it bends so don't have to level everything... just an option.
If you're not going to use a 2-pack epoxy, don't paint your floor. You'll hate yourself later.
A 2-pack is a paint-like product that comes in 2 cans, you mix it in a certain proportion, and you have a limited time to apply it.
Regular paint will fail. And I don't mean "will come off in nice sheets you can peel up, oh no. Other than the failing spots, the paint will hold firm. Until, of course, you overcoat it with a new coat - then it'll separate! I have found no decent way to remove old paint from concrete, short of lots and lots of paint stripper (and you think epoxy is expensive!)
Unfortunately when many people paint, their goal is for it to look great the next week. My goal is for it to look great 10 years from now, because I really don't like painting twice. (Or to be more precise, I don't like prepping twice. Prep is hard, but you have to do it well or your paint fails.)
Cheap paint is only worth it if your time is worth 50 cents an hour.
A 2-pack epoxy works because it is not paint, it is a plastic coating formed in place. It is much harder than paint. In fact, you'll need to think about skid-resistance because an epoxy surface is so hard it is quite slippery. They sell special grit which can be added without risk of contaminating the chemical reaction which forms the plastic.
Don't use epoxies on floors with a lot of direct sunlight exposure. Ultraviolet light damages epoxy, causing it to haze, crack and craze. I would just not paint those, because there aren't any viable options at your friendly neighborhood paint store. Your area's commercial paint store will have some better-than-epoxy chemistries which are inherently UV resistant, and I would (and do) use those. They're not cheap.
The 2-part epoxy is a fantastic sealer, and is almost impervious to conventional weapons. You won't regret the additional expense, and it's a safe bet that the room might be unfinished longer than planned.
If you can swing it, the epoxy is a great idea in terms of making the basement room behave much more like a normal above-ground room. You might save some money if you're willing to watch the Ask This Old House videos on YouTube and roll it on yourself.