Building Bedroom/Bathroom in basement

Old 01-19-04, 06:05 AM
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Question Building Bedroom/Bathroom in basement

Long story, but my husband and I are moving back in with my mom after my father’s death. The house is about 15 years old. The basement is pretty much unfinished, so I need LOTS of advice. And if it helps, I live in South Carolina.

I had started a bathroom and bedroom before I got married, so I have them studded out. The bathroom has the wall built 1” from the cement block wall, as everyone is saying in the other threads. The bedroom, however, has 2x4’s nailed straight into the block with foam insulation in between the studs. The studs are nailed with the 4” side flat against the wall. This side of the basement is not underground. Was it a bad idea to nail the studs into the concrete block? Should we hang a vapor barrier over the studs before we hang the paneling? Also, when the guy studded the bathroom, he didn’t put up a vapor barrier. Should I go back and try to put one behind that wall before finishing the bathroom?

The basement floor is concrete with no cracks and no moisture. However, we want to put a sub-floor down. We want to use 2x4’s (4” side flat to the floor) and use plywood over it for the bathroom and bedroom. We plan to lay a vapor barrier on the floor first, then use treated studs and plywood for the floor. We’ll lay carpet in the bedroom. We’re thinking of peel and stick tile for the bathroom for a quick fix. We know we’ll probably have to put something else in after a while.

I don’t particularly want drop ceiling, but it’s probably the best thing to use since all the wiring and plumbing will be overhead. I have no idea how to do this myself. We’ll probably have to hire someone for that.

I guess that’s the brief version of the story. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Old 01-19-04, 08:26 AM
Doug Aleshire's Avatar
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My sincere condolences, as my father pasted away Dec 2002. It's not been easy on my mom..

First things first - Building Permit application with plans - They can provide you with requirements for a basement and this may include having "hard wired" smoke detectors.

The bedroom - does this have an Egress window? It needs one.

"This is how a basement wall framing should be done read this,
I guess this is the best and most economical way to construct walls that would be placed on the exterior. I prefer to see 2x4 but as mentioned by others they can get 2x3's. You still need that W/T BOTTOM PLATE. The best way is to attach WOOD TREATED BOTTOM PLATE to the concrete is to use either...
Concrete nails - Sometimes this is hard and time consuming!
Tapcon Screws - Relatively easy but again time consuming!
Hilti Gun with ramset nails - Rent the gun, buy nails and charges - Very fast and holds great! - No adhesive is needed.
Doing the wall framing 16" O.C. provides a solid base for your 1/2" drywall. If using traditional framing method, frame your new wall 1" from the vertical block/masonry surface if using R-13. The reason to keep the wood out from the walls is the moisture that could damage them. If using insulation like R-19 and only 2x4 studs, the insulation would touch the walls. I have stated before that if a homeowner did put thicker insulation in, and the wall was only 1" from the masonry surface, I have recommended hanging a vapor barrier between the back of the wall and masonry surface. This doesn't allow for the insulation to touch the wall and air movement is not restricted but at least you won't create damage to the insulation or wood.
Vapor barrier should be placed directly under the drywall. The warm inside air containing water vapor can get past the wall finish and insulation and condense inside the colder wall cavity. If enough of this happens, and the water cannot escape, wood rot, mold, and other moisture-related problems are likely to occur. For this reason, building codes often require installing a vapor diffusion retarder on the warmest side of the wall cavity. This is what is required in Minnesota;

"A 4 mill poly vapor barrier must be placed against all concrete or block exterior foundation walls prior to applying furring strips for full height of the wall. Another 4 mill poly vapor barrier must be placed over furring strips and insulation prior to covering with finish materials. (State Energy Code Requirement)" - MINNESOTA CODE


If you do want to increase the R value, move the wall out further or use the R-13 and then apply a rigid insulation over the studs (warm side) then drywall (not paneling) *Code advises a 15 minute fire rated material over any rigid insulation - 1/2" Drywall*..

Kraft Faced insulation is fine to use in the above scenario. No need for the poly and you can do everything easily. You may find this easier and I would do this versus unfaced and vapor barrier because I don't like to play with it any more than I have to.

Let me add one other thing, rigid insulation used on a concrete/masonry surface is fine. Considerations to make in using this is;

1. If you are just using 1 1/2" rigid and furring strips - A. You need W/T strips to protect the wood. B. The strips can be adhesively applied but they must be solid - mechanical anchors may have to be used to insure that if shelving is installed it will hold. Problem with this is, the penetration into a sealed concrete/masonry surface is damaged and subject to leaking. C. Any electrical boxes will have to be shallow - sometimes makes it hard to wire. D. You must use a fire retardant material over this as per Code.

(Most books, articles about rigid and furring strips fail to say anything about the use of W/T and this will get destroyed and be a good source for mold/mildew with the slightest hint of moisture)

2. Alternative which does add cost is to apply full rigid sheets to the concrete/masonry walls, adhesively applied, then place frame wall against the rigid, then insulate between studs and cover with drywall. The Rigid insulation does then act as a the vapor barrier. Do not tape/seal the seams. This allows it to breath and dry up any condensation that may form.

So here is some more stuff....

W/T is wood treated. International Residential Building Code says "it must be used whenever wood is in contact with concrete and/or masonry". Check it out with your local inspector. This would also include furring strips applied directly to a vertical block wall unless you use the vapor barrier behind it.

If you are considering using 2x2's as furring strips I can only give you my 2 cents worth and you decide;
A. Are you going to have electrical in the walls? Short depth boxes make it difficult to wire. 2x4's would be better. B. Are you planning or foresee hanging shelves or cabinets on the exterior walls? Not alot of strength and may be subject to splitting easier than 2x4's.
C. I personally can't seen how 2" will make a difference in conserving space when you consider the hassle of doing electrical or other carpentry issues.
D. Depending on what you are talking about when it comes to the pre-cut polystyrene, the white foam board, which is the molded expanded polystyrene (MEPS) only is available in R-2 - 3/4" thick, it only costs about $5 per 32 SF. The better quality with R-7.5 is the pink foam - extruded expanded polystyrene (XEPS). This is great stuff but costs more.

Just a note, when you use NON-W/T stock as the 2x2's or 1x3's as furring strips, you have to place a vapor barrier between that and the block wall - you have to attached the furring strips to wall somehow, right? You can't adhesively apply them, you have to use a ramset - this obviously has just put a hole through the poly making it useless which in turn starts the problem with moisture touching the wood. Second, is if you used W/T or Non-W/T stock and have a waterproofing sealer on your block walls, you just penetrated the block, puncturing the seal coating that was suppose to stop water/moisture...creating possibly a worse problem....water that fills the concrete block cores starts to drain out or will leak in heavy rains. Just thought I'd bring this up. I would do 2x4 walls with R-11 or R-13, insulation would cost about $.02-$.03 more per square foot than the white foam and be better all around. Leave the walls out 1" from the block when framing, apply your poly over the studs apply the drywall and be done. You'll have no problems then."

Here is a good list to follow, if you are not familiar with the process,

1. Design and draw plan layout with electrical details.
2. Solve moisture problems. (If applicable)
3. Test for radon and mitigate. (If desired)
4. Get building permit. Bring plans with you.
5. Reroute any ducts, pipes, cables. (If required)
6. Install underslab drain pipes. (sounds like you don't need to)
7. Make masonry repairs.
8. Apply waterproofing (If desired)
8. Apply 4 mil vapor barrier over block.
8. Install windows. (If applicable)
9. Frame exterior walls 1" out from block.
10. Frame interior walls.
11. Frame subfloor. (If applicable)
12. HVAC rough-in.
13. DWV rough-in.
14. Supply water pipe rough-in.
15. Frame all soffits.
16. Electrical Rough-in.
17. Rough-in inspection
18. Insulate. (Faced or Un-faced)
19. Install vapor barrier if unfaced is used.
20. Drywall ceiling.
21. Drywall walls.
22. Tape/mud drywall.
23. Prime and texture and prime drywall.
24. Hang doors.
25. Install trim.
26. Paint.
27. Finish bathroom.
28. Install flooring.
29. Plumbing, Electrical and HVAC trim-out.
30. Final inspection.
31. Rest! You're Done!


Example 1

1. Plumbing Rough-In Inspection before concealing - If Applicable;
2. Heating Rough-In Inspection before concealing - If Applicable;
3. Electrical Rough-In Inspection before concealing - If Applicable;
4. Framing Inspection;
5. Insulation & Vapor Barrier Inspection;
6. Final Plumbing, Heating, Electrical Inspections - If Applicable;

Example 2

Rough Inspections - All rough plumbing, electrical, and mechanical completed. Rough framing is done after all other work is completed.

Drywall Nail Inspection Gypsum board installed with screws or nails complete before taping.

Final Inspection - All electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and drywall work completed and approved.

Thje issue of subfloor application is one of height concerns as well as using W/T lumber where it is in contact with concrete. (This applies to walls as well. This will be a necessity. Carefully plan out all aspects of the project.

Hope this starts you out right!

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