What are the Best Tips for Basement Framing?

Dan Cavallari

Basement framing is perhaps some of the most difficult framing to be done in a house because the distance between the first floor joists and the basement floor can vary across the span of a room, and pipes, wires, and other ductwork can get in the way of a clean framing job. To make basement framing a bit easier, one should begin by framing the perimeter walls and then framing interior walls on the ground. That way, the walls can be raised into place easily, though the walls should be built a bit short to account for variations in height across the span of the basement. If major variations are present, walls should be stick-built.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Perimeter walls need to be secured to both the floor and ceiling, just like any other type of wall. Any lumber secured to a basement floor should be pressure treated to resist corrosion, rotting, and insect infestation, since ground moisture is very likely to settle into the wood. Perimeter walls should be insulated if the basement framing is being built to finish the basement for day-to-day use, and drywall can then be mounted over the insulation. If gaps are present between the top of the wall and the first floor joists, shimming with thin pieces of wood may be necessary.

Interior walls can be built one of two ways: either the basement framing can be done by building the interior wall on the ground and raising it into place, or it can be done by stick-building. This is a method in which the builder will secure a top plate piece of wood perpendicular to the first floor joists, and another on the ground below it, parallel to the top plate. The vertical studs can then be cut to length more accurately, since differences in height are likely across an uneven basement floor. Doing the basement framing on the ground and then raising the wall into place takes far less time, but if the floor or ceiling joists overhead are uneven, the builder may run into the problem of not being able to raise the wall into place at all.

Remember that any ductwork or wiring either overheard or within the walls of the basement framing needs to be secured properly before installing drywall over them. If problems occur after installation, drywall and other elements of the basement framing may need to be torn down to rectify the problem. If electrical outlets are being installed within the framing, be sure to map out the location of the outlets and all wiring before installing the framing.

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