What are the Best Tips for Basement Refinishing?

T. L. Childree

Basement refinishing can sometimes be difficult, but there are several tips that can make the job easier. For example, remove all mold and mildew from the walls, floor, and ceiling and install any new ductwork before starting any basement refinishing. Inspect, repair, waterproof, and insulate the basement walls before proceeding with the drywall. Install a moisture barrier over the basement floor and consider using double carpet to compensate for irregularities in the surface. Installing a suspended ceiling permits easier access to plumbing and electrical wiring in the future.

A man installing a basement floor.
A man installing a basement floor.

Before beginning the basement refinishing project, inspect the floor, ceiling and walls for areas of mold or mildew and clean them thoroughly. Install any ductwork that may be needed for the heating and cooling system before starting work on the walls or ceiling. Air supply vents should be located near exterior walls and return air vents near interior walls to ensure a good flow across the room. Wrap all drainpipes and cold water supply lines with insulation to prevent condensation from occurring. It is a good idea to install overhead electrical and communications wiring before beginning the ceiling construction.

Soundproofing materials can be used for basement refinishing.
Soundproofing materials can be used for basement refinishing.

Bowing, cracking, or crumbling basement walls need to be repaired before beginning any basement refinishing project. A waterproof coating will also need to be applied to the walls. The interior walls should be constructed with 2 inch (5 cm) by 4 inch (10 cm) wooden studs to allow space for the plumbing and electrical wiring. It is best to align the new wall studs with the existing upper floor joists to accommodate the plumbing connections from above. Installing a sufficient amount of insulation in the exterior walls should help control heating and cooling costs for the new room.

Unfinished basements typically have an uneven floor surface. The use of a double layer of carpeting may help to smooth out the surface. Double carpeting will also provide extra insulation from the cold concrete surface underneath. Remember to coat the concrete floor with a moisture-proof sealer before laying down the carpeting. A thin layer of concrete can be used to level sloping basement floors.

Electrical wiring, plumbing, and ductwork are typically located in the basement ceiling. The use of a suspended ceiling permits future access to the hardware located in this cavity. Some type of soundproofing material should be placed between the ceiling and upper floor if the new room will be used for noisy activities. Showers and clothes dryers should be vented to the outside to prevent condensation from occurring.

Basements require a thorough cleaning before a refinishing project.
Basements require a thorough cleaning before a refinishing project.

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