Basement Walls Finished The Right Way

Finishing basement walls is a critical step in finishing a basement. When done properly, it can create a beautiful, safe living area; when done wrong, it can be prone to moisture damage and harbor mold. In the following guide, you will learn about the steps involved in finishing a basement wall and become acquainted with several methods for completing each step. This will help you do the job correctly and avoid potential complications.

WATERPROOFING

Basement walls are prone to moisture problems. Concrete and cinder block tend to soak up moisture and release it when the weather changes, and water can seep through basement walls from the outside. Small amounts of dampness on humid summer days will not cause a problem as long as you take appropriate steps during the finishing process. However, if the walls are constantly wet or water seeps in when it rains, you will need to take care of these problems before you can begin to finish basement walls.

VAPOR BARRIERS

No matter how carefully you waterproof your basement, you will probably have some moisture on the surface of your concrete. If you plan to wood frame your basement and use fiberglass insulation, these materials will absorb water and result in mold if they are placed directly against the concrete wall. To avoid this issue, it is important to place a vapor barrier between the concrete and the framing. The best type of moisture barrier is polystyrene insulation, which resists mold and works great to keep out water; plastic is much less effective because it is not breathable and can actually trap moisture.

FRAMING

Framing basement walls requires special considerations because many of the walls are against concrete. There are two materials that can be used to frame these walls, and each one works for different situations.

  • Standard 2x4 studs are perfect for walls that are insulated with fiberglass. They are easy to build, have plenty of space for electrical wiring, and don't need to be fastened to the concrete. On the other hand, they take up lot of space, which can be a problem in smaller basements.
  • Furring strips work great with foam insulation, and they take up a lot less space than studs. However, they are time-consuming to install because they must be screwed directly into the concrete. In addition, electrical wiring cannot be installed in furring with traditional methods, and boxes and switches require special installation techniques as well.

INSULATION

There are several different types of basement insulation, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Fiberglass insulation is cheap and easy to install, and it can work great if there is no moisture in the basement. If there is any water present, however, it can become a habitat for mold. It also can't be used with furring strips.
  • Rigid foam board can be ideal for basements because it is thin and mold resistant. Nonetheless, it is much more difficult to cut than fiberglass, and it does not work as well if there are a lot of obstacles or the basement wall is uneven. In addition, it costs more than fiberglass and must have a fire resistant surface.
  • Spray foam also works great for basements. It can be used on rough or uneven surfaces, and it expands to fill any gaps in the wall. The disadvantages are that it is the most expensive type of insulation and must be applied by a professional.

WALL SURFACES

The last step in basement wall finishing is to install the surface of the wall. Most contractors recommend using one of two materials for this:

  • Drywall is a popular substance because it is cheap and looks nice when it is finished. It does nothing to reduce noise, however, and it can be difficult to access plumbing behind walls made of drywall. In addition, basement drywall must be mold resistant if there is any possibility of moisture.
  • Basement paneling combines insulation, a wall covering and a finished surface in one piece of material. It has the advantage of allowing owners to skip the framing, insulation and painting steps, finishing the job much quicker than would otherwise be possible. It is breathable, mold resistant and sound reducing, and it can be easily removed and replaced. On the other hand, it can look industrial, takes up a lot of space and makes your basement look different than the rest of the house.

Insulating Your Home’s Basement Walls Increases Value

Properly insulating basement walls makes a dwelling more energy efficient than non-insulated buildings. Insulated homes demand a higher price when the owners decide to sell. The truly adventurous can perform the task themselves. For a stress-free production, discuss basement walls insulation with professional contractors. Look for pre-existing insulation before starting your project. For recently built [...]