The thought of starting a basement renovation can be intimidating, but when you have the right ideas and guide, the process will be a lot easier. The first step in having a finished basement is realizing that regardless of its current state, it can become one of the best living spaces in a home.
Treating the room as you do any other can also help you figure out how to finish a basement without a lot of stress or hitches. Whether it is currently being used as a disorganized storage area with a musty smell, or it was already finished, but the work was not done to perfection, it is still valuable.
Plan Your Layout Beforehand
Planning the layout can save you a lot of time and money and increase your chances of achieving perfection. You can:
- Make the room more attractive and inviting by having the main area near a source of natural light.
- Try to have the bedrooms near the perimeter so they can have windows that can be used as exits in case of emergencies.
- If you want an entertainment area that involves the use of a viewing screen, make sure it is in a darker section of the basement to prevent glaring.
- Place snack-storage area at a strategic location that will be accessible without interfering with the viewing.
What to Pay Attention to Before You Start
One of the basement development tips is to have an expert check the ventilation and the appliances that burn fuel for signs of carbon monoxide emission.
Before you finish your basement, look for signs of sagging on the joists. Use a ladder to get your eyes perpendicular to them to determine if any of them is out of line.
Check the moisture content. Tape a few plastic sheeting to the floor and walls for two weeks. If condensation forms on the bottom of the plastic, there could be moisture problems because of poor foundation sealing. If the condensation is on the top, the room is too humid.
Find out if the floor and header joists are decaying or insect-infested before the basement renovation. Probe the areas using an awl.
Check the plumbing to determine how it can be upgraded.
Important Factors to Go Through
1. Pipes Insulation
Use insulation sleeves on pipes to prevent heat loss on hot-water ones and condensation on cold-water pipes. Slip foam insulation can be effective in protecting both the drywall and ceiling. Make sure all cracks around the pipes are also sealed regardless of how small they may be. Silicone caulk can be used for the smaller cracks and expanding foam for the larger ones. Do not forget the areas around the chimney flues and the space between the basement and the rest of the house.
2. Give Mechanicals Space
Regardless of whether the mechanicals are boxed in or not, there should be enough space around them. Experts recommend a minimum of 2 feet to allow easy movement when they are being inspected or repaired. Space will help you avoid the energy-consuming task of having to shift things around when it is time to service the equipment.
3. Extra Work on Sump Pumps
Sump pumps are great at preventing flooding in the basement, and they need extra attention and maintenance to function optimally. Have a professional install and inspect them regularly.
It is better to have two sump pumps and a backup power source. A battery can kick in for the main pump when there is a power outage, and a second pump can start working when the first one fails. The type of sump pump you choose should depend on whether your house is connected to the water supply from the municipality. It can be easier to have a water-powered pump so the pressure from the pipes can turn it on when necessary.
Waterproof Till it’s Dry
If the basement already has leaks, you can try the following tips to fix the problem yourself:
- Sealing off small holes and cracks with a concrete patching compound
- Sloping soil from the foundation
- Installing diverters to redirect away from the foundation
- Filling larger holes and cracks with hydraulic cement
If the cracks are too big, call a structural engineer to find out if they have interfered with the structural integrity of the property.
Waterproofing the walls can also fill the pores on the materials used to prevent leakage into the basement. You can use masonry waterproofing solutions that are applied like paint, but be careful not to make it too thin. You should also make the surface smooth by using a wire brush before application.
4. Is More Headroom Necessary?
The building codes in most regions require that the ceiling height have at least 7 feet clearance. If yours is less than that, add more room by digging out the concrete floor. It requires professionalism to ensure the foundation is not tampered with, and it may also be time-consuming and too costly. Another alternative is to move pipes and ducts.
5. Alternatives to Drywall In Basement
Drywall meant for use above grade should never be used below grade. It is easy for mold to grow on the paper coating on standard drywall, and their gypsum core can crumble. Superior mold-resistant options to try are USG’s Sheetrock Brand Mold Tough Gypsum Panels or and DensArmor Plus High-Performance Interior Panels that are nonpaper-faced.
Great Ideas to Finish Basement Walls
- Panel System
You can use interlocking panels to complete the job quickly and save some floor space. The installation of these panels involves fitting and gluing the notched insulation boards, then attaching them to the foundation walls. Drywall is then attached to the integrated strips.
This method creates thinner walls and reduces the amount of energy required to complete the job. Some of the panels have chases that allow drainage through the back channels.
- Partition Walls
When partitioning the rooms, be cautious to ensure you leave too little space or make them too cramped. It is better to place the walls between support posts in the room to prevent crowding and to turn the columns into multifunctional design features.
Make sure to level room for natural light to penetrate through the house by using dividers that have window cutouts. If possible, make them portable. You can use sliding doors or movable screens to achieve privacy and still guarantee ease of use.
- Stud Wall Insulation
If you have a tight budget but still want a livable basement, you can use stud wall insulations. The technique may be one of the oldest, but it is still just as effective. It requires attaching a vapour barrier and rigid foam insulation to the foundation before putting on a drywall and stud frame.
- Basement Refinish
Attempting the basement refinishing process on your own is tedious and time-consuming. Hire licensed professionals that have experience handling insulation, ceilings, floors, finished wall panels, and decorative finishes. Professionals know how to use modular systems that ensure the work is completed quickly.
Helpful Things for the Finishing Basement Process
- Choose vinyl planks for the floors. They are durable, resistant to scratches and moisture, and they are aesthetically pleasing like wood.
- Consider soundproofing the ceiling, especially if the basement will be used for entertainment purposes.
- Install enough lighting fixtures, even if you have some windows bringing in natural light. Try to minimize dark spots as much as possible.
- Install window wells that are visually pleasant instead of the traditional metal sheets. Add safety features by covering them with removable toppers.
Additional finished basement ideas include adding sufficient storage for kids’ toys and gaming elements, adding layered rugs for extra warmth, and using drainage mats for moisture control. You can find many other basement refinishing ideas to help you create a unique space you will be proud of for many years.