Finishing basement w/o framing

Old 05-02-04, 02:14 AM
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Finishing basement w/o framing

I have read through numerous pages and have noted the following steps for completing the walls without framing, but still have some questions about the process.

- Our basement does not have any water issues. I am still going to do the plastic sheet test, but feel we are safe.
- Our budget is not allowing us to frame the basement, but we are aware that we may have uneven, wavy results without it.

To refinish the walls w/o framing, the following steps need to be taken?

1. Dry-lock (is this necessary?)
2. Vapor Barrier (according to our specific code)
3. Attach furring strips
4. Insert insulation
5. Additional Vapor barrier over insulation, under sheetrock (is this necessary or according to code?)
6. Sheetrock

- Are these steps accurate and in the correct order?
- We are also looking to install padding and carpet over the concrete floor, is there anything additional that needs to be completed?
- With the above process, how far above the floor level should we install the sheetrock?
- We are still uncertain about how we want to do the ceiling. What options are available without wall frames? Can the ceiling be completed last or does it need to be done first?

Thanks for any information!!!
Old 05-02-04, 11:15 AM
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#1 YES

#2 no for now

#3 In no way put furring strips to the wall and fasten them there.

#4 For now no way there .

#5--#6 save your money till you can do it right.V/B on the wall 4 mil poly . 1" out full stud wall R13 insulation 4 mil poly then the drywall.

My .02 cents ED
Old 05-02-04, 11:37 AM
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Thanks for your 2 cents Ed, but like I said before, we are NOT framing the room and I needed some advice on the steps to take.
If I am not to place the furring strips as listed, then how is it done.?~
Old 05-02-04, 12:16 PM
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Well you could put the V/B on the wall then the furring strips as you said . But I think check code for where you are. All I know is you dont want to and we dont do it and cant here , is put the furrings strups on the wall and make holes in the concrete in the basement.

Old 05-03-04, 02:20 PM
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It's not the right way, but

I've just finished my basement, I went ahead and framed it and it wasn't that big of a deal. The only thing you're saving is the cost of the 2x4 lumber (at about $2 per lineal foot) and you may end up paying for that in the extra cost of 3/4" foam insulation over fiberglass--plus the fact that the lower R-value is going to make a big difference every month the heat is on. So make sure you really run the numbers before you assume it's cheaper your way.

Nevertheless, if you really were committed to doing it your way and understand that it's not going to last because of the moisture that's going to leach into your furring strips. I would probably prefer good construction adhesive over concrete screws (less chance of serious damage to your concrete walls). If you do use screws use only about 2" ones and use a hammer drill for your pilots. DON'T use a powder nailer into walls.

You could either put your foam directly on the wall and furring strips to the foam (better--no direct contact with the concrete for your furring strips) or fur the walls directly and put 3/4" strips of foam between--You can get precut strips for 1x4s on 16" centers. That little R-value is probably a code violation.

I think it would be foolish to go to the trouble (trust me it's an ordeal) and expense of finishing drywall over furring strips. Remember this is temporary at best. Use paneling. Be aware that this may be a code violation without drywall underneath--then again the whole project is probably a code violation.

Also think about how hard it's going to be to run electric through furring strips.

Dude, I think you're better off to do it right.
Old 05-03-04, 10:38 PM
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We have decided, with your input, to go ahead and frame the thing but cut down on expenses by doing it ourselves. We are both complete amatuers at this and I am very frightened to see what this is going to turn out like and how long it is going to take, but we'll give it a shot. This site has a lot of wonderful information and you guys have been great. Thanks!
Old 05-04-04, 07:39 AM
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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. As Ed mentioned, they are those that prohibit attachment of furring strips to walls this is due to the MOLD and MILDEW issues that have come up. Call the City first per their requirements. 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.

Just some thoughts

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