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How to finish basement

If you find yourself staring at a cold empty basement space wondering what to do with the space, you have come to the right place. There is so much more to your basement than you realize. Over the years, basements have become a prime location in many homes, and with countless basement layouts and designs to choose from, you can become like many homeowners and learn to absolutely love your basement space.

One of the many great things about basement remodeling projects is that you can express your creativity without having to adhere to the theme of the rest of your home. Basements are unique spaces and can be the haven your home needs. So, get ready to transform your basement from a storage room to one that will complete amaze you.

Before you begin

The first thing you need to do when considering finishing a basement is to do extensive research. Many factors come into play, including your location, the climate in your area, the size and condition of your current basement, your budget and what your vision is for your new basement. While many possibilities should be considered, it takes time to narrow down to a specific idea for your basement.

Before we get into the various types of possibilities for your basement, we will discuss why finishing a basement is rewarding.

  1. Added value to your home – Basements are one of the most common home renovation projects because they contribute enormously to the value of your home. Basement renovations have a high ROI and can significantly add value to your home should you decide to put your house on the market in the future. An unfinished basement is costly because uninsulated walls can cost you more in energy costs.
  2. More usable living space – who doesn’t need more living space? Most homeowners could do a lot with additional usable space. If you have an unfinished basement, why not take advantage of that space and transform it into a usable space you can enjoy. Leaving your basement unfinished is wasting valuable space that could work well for your family.

How to determine what to use your basement space for

Deciding how to use your basement space is a critical decision. You should consider the needs and habits of your family. Asking yourself some key questions about your family can help you narrow down the choice for your basement space. Are you a family that loves to play games? If so, using your basement space as a game room could be an excellent option for you. If you had more space in your home, what would you use it for? Are the dynamics of your family changing i.e., are some older children needing more private space, or have you welcomed in new addition to the family? As we mentioned before, you have the power to turn your basement into just about anything you envision.

Basic steps to finishing your basement

One of the first things you will need to determine about your basement project is how extensive your renovations will be. If you are making minor changes, you could consider doing a DIY project. More complex basement remodel projects require basement specialist, so knowing the scope of your project can help you figure out other decisions you will need to make on how you go about the renovation process.

Some of the work involved in finishing your basement includes:

  • insulating walls
  • selecting flooring
  • adding a ceiling

Before you can begin, determine the scope of your project. How complex will the renovations be? You may not be able to assess this yourself, that’s why hiring an expert for a consultation can help. You’ll also want to know what some of the biggest challenges will be for your project.

  • Does the landscape make it particularly challenging?
  • Is the structure of your basement in good condition?
  • Are heating ducks, plumbing, gas lines, and electrical wires that may be positioned in a way that me present a challenge?

With multiple components to piece together, your design needs to accommodate all the aspects that need to be included in your basement. The water pipes, gas lines, electrical wires, etc, all need to be considered. Hiring a professional basement renovator will make a world of difference and can help you come up with the results you envisioned.

The choice is yours whether you want to make your new basement simple or go with a more elaborate plan to transform your basement into a luxurious space with all the bells and whistles.

What to do before renovating your basement

In order to make your renovation process as smooth as possible, there are a number of things that you should do prior to construction that will prepare of your basement space for renovation. Renovating your basement is big investment, so you’ll want to make sure that you complete these steps to make sure that everything goes as well as possible.

1. Clean your basement

You will need to clear away any boxes, trash, appliances, furniture – essentially everything in the space that is not fixed. Your basement should be like a blank canvas with nothing interfering the renovation work.

2. Conducted a moisture test in your basement

Basements are prone to moisture. Knowing the amount of moisture in your basement will help in planning. If your basement measures a higher level of moisture, you will need to waterproof your basement before you begin any remodeling work. Failing to do so could be disastrous and result in the new basement being ruined by leaks.

Before any construction work begins, locate the source of the moisture and address it. If the soil underneath is wet, you’ll need drain tile. If there are cracks in the foundation, that will need to be addressed. It’s extremely important that you get to the root of the moisture problem in your basement with the help of a professional basement contractor. It may seem like a minor issue that will resolve itself, but it won’t. And leaving it under dressed will only lead to bigger problems later.

Some ways to waterproof your basement are:

Using waterproof coating or paint on your interior walls

  • Incorporate a pit with the sump pump or add a drain leading to your storm drain
  • Redirect water away from your basement, consider re-grading the slope of your lawn.

Using waterproof paint is always a good idea even if you do not have any moisture issues in your basement. This is a preventative measure that can help protect your walls in the event that you do develop a leak in the future.

Once you have fixed the source of the moisture problem, retest your basement again to see whether the moisture levels have dropped. If they have, you can proceed with your renovation plans.

3. Get informed about permits and local building codes

Every municipality has its own rules and building codes that you need to adhere to when embarking on construction work. Before any changes can be made to your basement, you’ll need to apply for the appropriate building permits and acquire them before work can commence. Conduct some research to determine what the local building codes are in your area and see if there are any specifications about ceiling heights and the number of exits that your basement will need to have. It is critical that these issues are ironed out before you do any work. If your basement meets the code requirements, you may apply for your permits and get on with the construction phase.

4. Get the appropriate tools and materials

The types of tools and materials you’ll need will depend on the scope of your project and the kind of finishes you choose. If you are doing a DIY project, you will need the following tools:

  • masonry drill
  • safety glasses
  • sawhorse
  • utility knife
  • chalk gun
  • circular saw
  • dust mask
  • hammer
  • stepladder
  • nail gun
  • masonry drill bit set
  • hearing protection
  • tape measure
  • drywall jack
  • level

Materials you will need to include:

  • ceiling tiles
  • framing nails
  • caulk or foam filler
  • foamboard adhesive
  • duct tape
  • cement nails
  • drywall
  • wire
  • wire cutters
  • plywood
  • flooring
  • wall screws
  • polystyrene foam insulation

Before you purchase any of your materials, you will need to measure your basement so you know how much material to buy. If you intend on building a subfloor, you will need to insulate the walls and the floor. You can use drywall on your ceilings as well.

Steps to finishing your basement

The first thing you need to assess are your walls. If they are bare concrete walls, you will need to finish them by insulating them. Not only does this add to the aesthetics of the room, but it also helps to keep your basement warm. This is particularly important because basements are notorious for being cold. To finish your basement walls you will need to do the following:

Step 1: installing installation

Adding polystrene foam insulation over your foundation walls is one of the most efficient methods of insulating the exterior walks of your basement.

  • Measure your foam and cut each piece to the height of your ceiling less 1/4 inch. This will give you some extra allowance to work with during installation. You can either use a utility knife or a circular saw to cut the foam insulation. Be sure to wear safety goggles if you use a saw.
  • Double check to ensure that your installation is the right height.
  • Forming an S shape, apply the adhesive to the wall where the form will be attached. Allow 30 seconds, or the specified time on the bottle, for the adhesive to sit.
  • Position the foam over the adhesive and press.
  • Repeat steps 1-4 until all the walls have been covered.
  • After installing the phone, use duct tape to seal the seams between each piece of foam.
  • Use caulk or foam-filler to fill any spaces between the foam and the ceiling, floor and wall corners.

When this has been done, you can move on to the next step which is framing your walls and installing drywall.

Step 2: Framing your walls

The first thing you need to do is make sure all the two-by-fours are cut to the correct length. To get to the right size for vertical wall joints, the thickness should be subtracted from the top and bottom plates and an additional 1/4 inch added, giving adequate space for the frames to fit effortlessly along the foundation. To frame a basement wall, you will need to:

  • Screw or nail a fitted two-by-four to the joists, creating blocking between the overhead joists. This should be done every 2 feet along with parallel walls. Your frames will be attached to these blocks.
  • Starting at 4 inches from the wall, draw a line that goes all the way up each wall to mark where the outer edge of the frame should be aligned.
  • Begin with the bottom plate that is closest to the wall and attach the wall joints to the bottom and top plates using a framing nailer. Do this every 16 inches and make adjustments for all doors and windows as necessary.
  • Match the outer edge of the bottom plate at the 4-inch line by tipping the wall up.
  • Use a masonry drill, masonry nails and a hammer to fix the bottom plate to the concrete floor. Make sure you are wearing protective clothing, including a dust mask and safety goggles.
  • The top plate should be attached to the above joists/blocks with the framing nailer. Use a stepladder as needed and make your way across the wall.

Step 3: install drywall

Once the walls have been built, you can proceed to hang your drywall. Make sure to factor in room for outlets or valves and cut out the appropriate space into the dryer sheet using a drywall knife. They should be done for windows as well but should be done after the drywall sheet has been secured on the wall.

You can hang your drywall vertically or horizontally, however, it is more common to hang drywall horizontally. This creates fewer seams and makes it easier to finish each panel.

To hang the drywall:

  • Measure each piece of drywall and cut off the excess with a utility knife. Each piece of drywall needs to be long enough to end on a stud.
  • Using drywall screws and a drill, attach the drywall to each stud. You’ll need to be careful not to rip the drywall paper surface. There also shouldn’t be any plaster around the nail head.
  • Use caulk to conceal seams and screwheads.
  • Use drywall tape to cover the seams and repeat the caulking process.

The next step will be to paint the walls.

Finishing the basement floor

We recommend using waterproof materials for your flooring to minimize the damage from flooding or a leak that may occur. This is bound to happen at some point, so making provisions to protect your floor is important.

Step 1: Choose your flooring

There are many choices when it comes to flooring options. Some of the top choices are vinyl, tiles and carpet.

  • Vinyl – this is a popular choice because it is easy to install and is waterproof. You also have a lot of options when it comes to its appearance.
  • Tiles – create a nice finish and are easy to maintain and clean.
  • Carpet – this is also a good option because carpet is easy to install and can be removed and dried out if there is any flooding.

After selecting the right flooring option for your basement, you will need to install the flooring and sub flooring.

Step 2: Install sub flooring and flooring

If your subfloor is level and has no moisture issues, you can install your flooring right onto the concrete subfloor, that’s if the flooring can be snapped together. While this can be done, we recommend building a new subfloor with plywood and polystyrene sheets, or at minimum, install a moisture barrier.

To Install the basement subfloors:

  1. Place sheets of polystyrene insulation on the floor and secure them using an adhesive.
  2. Put the plywood sheets over the insulation and secure the new subfloor with concrete screws and a masonry drill.
  3. Wants to play world has been installed, you can install the flooring of your choice over this base.

Once this is complete, follow the instructions outlined for the type of flooring you have selected.

How to finish the basement ceiling

With the walls and floors done, you can now divert your attention towards giving your basement a finished look that conceals wires, pipes and ducts in your basement ceiling.

Step 1: Choose your ceiling type

Determine the type of finish you would like your ceiling to have. The two options are drop-ceiling and drywall ceiling.

Drop ceiling is the most economical choice and is easy to install. It does a great job concealing exposed pipes and wires but still allows access to these overhead utilities.

Drywall ceiling gives a more polished finish and is excellent at conserving space. The downside is that there will need to be more work done to provide access to overhead utilities.

Step 2: Install your ceiling

You will need a hammer, nails, wire, wire cutters and an installation kit if you will be installing a tile ceiling. The installation process is quite straightforward and you’ll need to simply follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Another great thing about drop ceilings is you can easily replace damaged tiles.

If you plan to install drywall ceiling, the tools you will need are a drywall jack or an additional pair of hands. Then follow the same process you used when finishing your basement walls. Be sure to leave space in the drywall to allow access to pipes and ducks when the need arises in the future. You can cover this access point with an air grate.

Once this foundational work has been done on your ceiling, floors and walls, you can proceed to renovating the rest of your space and decorating it according to your liking.