When a do-it-yourselfer considers finishing basement walls, he or she usually assumes the walls must be framed and finished with drywall. While this is certainly a wise decision that will improve the aesthetic of the basement, other options do exist. One can simply stain the concrete walls to create a visually appealing wall, or in certain situations, a raw, unfinished look may be best. If insulation is a primary concern, finishing basement walls with framing and drywall may still be the best option, though it is perhaps the most labor-intensive. When considering different methods for finishing basement walls, first consider the purpose for which the basement will be used, as well as the budget for the project.
Before finishing basement walls, one should be sure to properly insulate and waterproof the walls to prevent damage in the future and to make the space warmer and more pleasant for daily activities. Concrete walls can be difficult to insulate without framing a wall inside of them, though hollow block concrete walls can be insulated from within. Most concrete foundations are solid concrete, however, meaning insulation will have to be built inside a framed wall. If warmth is not an issue in the basement, the walls themselves can be waterproofed, painted, or stained using an acid stain to improve the look and function of the wall. Otherwise, framing and then installing insulation will improve the functionality of the room before hanging drywall and finishing the wall.
If the builder decides to hang drywall when finishing basement walls, all waterproofing and insulating must be done before the final drywall is hung; this can become a labor-intensive project. Basement floors and ceilings are often uneven, meaning the framing part of the project can take a long time. It may be best to stick-build the basement walls — that is, install the horizontal beams at the floor and ceiling, then cutting studs to length and installing them one by one. Once the framing is built, install insulation, then hang drywall.
When finishing basement walls that are made from a frame and drywall, consider priming the walls before painting them. Sand out any dents or divots, fill in holes created by nails or screws, then use a few coats of primer to get the walls ready for painting. Since most basements tend to be dark places, consider painting the walls a brighter color that will make the basement look less drab and dark.