Finishing Your Basement

Finishing your basement can be one of the best things you can do for your home and your family. In many cases it can almost double the amount of livable space in your home and can provide new, exciting spaces for your family to use. Some of today’s common basement remodeling ideas are home theaters, game rooms and bars. The Resourceful Remodeler will take you through the main steps of how to finish a basement, but first you should know some of the advantages of finishing a basement:

  • A less expensive way to add square footage to your home.
  • Many tasks are do-it-yourself.
  • You can create custom areas for your family such as game rooms, offices, etc.
  • You are adding value to your home!

Before You Start Remodeling

Different basements face different challenges. Does your basement sit on a slab, or is it dirt? Does it flood regularly? Does your furnace and fuel tank sit in a corner or in the center? Is there already a convenient and easy-to-use flight of stairs, or do you need to replace and enlarge them, can you access the basement from inside the house? These and other questions can affect feasibility, costs, and time involvement. In some cases it may not be worth your time and money to finish the basement. this article assumes that you’re working with a basement that sits on a slab and one that does not regularly flood.

Waterproof Basement Walls and Floors

Before you begin laying out your new entertainment room designs, you’ll want to ensure you don’t have any leaky basement floor and walls. You can test this by placing a piece of plastic on the floor and taping around the edge of the plastic so it´s sealed. Let it sit overnight and check to see if there is any condensation underneath the plastic. Condensation on top of the plastic is OK, but condensation underneath the plastic means you´re taking on water.

If you do see moisture, the first thing to check is the drainage around your home. Ideally water should drain at least five feet from your home. After you’ve ensured proper drainage around your home’s exterior you should repair any cracks in the floor or walls of your basement and apply a concrete sealer to them.

Broken gutters and poor landscaping can contribute to your water problems, so inspect these as well. You can have good drainage but an immense storm can still cause issues if your water is ponding too close to the house or is pouring right off your roof.

After sealing your basement, you may want to consider a sub-floor in your basement. It’s not a necessity, but it will keep your floor warmer and drier. Most people use polystyrene insulation and plywood bolted down with concrete screws for this. Once you’ve made your decision on a sub-floor you´re ready to start construction!

Starting Basement Makeovers

All basement makeovers and finishing projects start the same way. You need to clear your basement of all the boxes and strings of holiday decorations you have stored down there. This allows you to have a clear picture when coming up with your basement floor plan ideas.

Cost of a Basement Remodel

The fact is finishing a basement is one of the most cost effective home improvements you can make. Considering you already have the walls and base for a floor in place before you begin, a basement finishing cost can be relatively inexpensive when compared to constructing an addition. Most people are usually looking at a $20 to $25 per square foot price range.

Basement Design Plans Come to Life

It´s time to start making your basement remodeling ideas, home theaters and entertainment room designs come to life! Laying out your walls is the next step in finishing a basement. When framing a basement, it´s important to make your outer basement walls square. This will make the rest of construction much easier. Don’t use the concrete walls a as a guide. Chances are they’re not square. Instead, drop a plumb bob from the main support beam in about the center of the room, mark the floor and use that as a reference point to square your walls. Make sure you mark all walls with a chalk line before you begin building.

Framing your Basement, Doors, and Interior Walls

Now that you´ve got a finished basement picture to work off of, it´s time to start giving your basement some structure. When framing your walls, the most common material used is 2x4s. They provide great support and allow room for basement insulation and running electrical and cable wires where needed. When measuring out your materials remember to leave 0.75″ for shifting of your basement floor, and place studs on center every 16″ starting with the second stud in to allow for three-stud corners.

Interior walls do not need insulation unless your outer wall is not insulated or you wish an extra level of soundproofing.

Doors should be strategically placed considering things like airflow, traffic flow and furniture. Your doors should be a minimum of 32″ wide, but you may want to consider going bigger if you’re moving large furniture into the room. Always remember to save the straightest wood for the doorways, and build frames 2″ wider and 1.5″ taller than the actual opening size you want.

Basement Ceiling Ideas

Having creative basement ceiling ideas can really add to your décor. You could leave a suspended ceiling for that industrial look, or you could finish it with sheet-rock. To do that you’ll need to hang 2x4s perpendicular to the floor joists of the second level. This gives you room for insulation and running wires as well as a strong base for heavy sheet-rock. If you do not want noise to communicate readily between the basement and the upstairs then you may also want to insulate the ceiling to add another layer of sound barrier. In most cases, a sheet-rock ceiling and carpet or padding on the floor above will be sufficient to filter out noise, but if your teenager’s sound system is down there…

Electric, Heating and Plumbing

Now we´re starting to get to the specifics of your basement design plans. This is where you really will define the possibilities of each room in your basement floor plan ideas. The majority of basement remodeling projects don´t require you to change and appliances to cover increased demand. You will want to plan for things like cable, outlets, lighting, heating and water usage.

Calling a professional at this point is not a bad idea because they’ll know all the codes and standards for electricity and plumbing in your area. Not to mention it will probably be much faster. If you are an avid do-it-yourselfer remember the standard for running cable and other wires through walls is 0.75″ holes in your studs 15″ off the floor.

Insulation and Finishing Walls

It’s now time to make your basement warm and cozy. It´s mandatory that you insulate in order to keep your basement warm. The easiest way to do that is with friction fit fiberglass insulation. Just remember to wear long sleeves and eye protection.

If you don’t mind the added expense then consider spray foam. Inch for inch it offers a higher insulation value than other forms of insulation. Spray foam is also good for repelling moisture.

Foam board insulation is another option, and is easier and less messy than spray foam, but be aware that while little critters won’t touch spray foam they have no reservations about chewing holes in foam board.

Once insulated you can install sheet-rock, wood paneling or whatever material you wish for your walls. Your basement has just become your canvas for all your great interior decorating ideas!