Finishing Basement?? Where do I start?

Old 10-03-01, 03:40 AM
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I just move into a new home and i want to start on finishing the basement. There is already insulation with the foil on it. i was told to just take the foil off and use the insulation that is there. I have never framed before so all I know is the stud most be 16" apart. How do they attach to the cement floor? Where do I start? Can I just start building walls? Thanks in advance.
Old 10-03-01, 05:12 AM
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Finishing a basement

Plumbing issues should be addressed first, so that if you need to install lines in the concrete this can be taken care of first and concrete floor repaired and made smooth and even without humps & bumps. Then, walls need to be addressed. If walls have not been waterproofed, then a couple coats of masonry sealer will help assure you that you are safe from moisture problems. Some folks like to use firring strips on masonry walls. Others prefer to use 2x4s set out about 1/2" from the wall to allow for making adjustments if masonry walls are not 'plumb'(straight) as most tend not to be. This also gives you the opportunity to install wood blocking for wainscoating, cabinetry, crown mold, shelving, etc. Then, you have to address heating/cooling, plumbing, electrical, and telephone requirements in the basement area. Only after all these mechanical requirements have been installed and inspected, do you address the issue of insulation. You can go to for some very helpful info re: insulation installation and related issues. Drywall the walls. Use a suspended acoustical ceiling so that you still have easy access to all the pipes and duct work overhead. Using wainscoating 32" high will allow walls to take quite a bit of abuse from kids' activities as well as provide a rich decorative effect. Some folks opt, however, to simply panel basement walls. Selecting a floor covering will take some consideration as you will be dealing with moisture in concrete. There are basement project books available and lots of info online re: finishing a basement. Check back in with the folks on this site as they will be happy to provide advice as you work your way through your project. There are many helpful forums here.
Old 10-03-01, 01:59 PM
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Start at your local library. There are a number of books and videos on basement finishing. Then check out Home Depot -- most have classes on basement finishing. Develop a complete plan before you pound your first nail.
Old 10-04-01, 12:35 AM
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first determine if you have a moisture problem...

First determine if you even have a moisture problem. Tape a 3'x 3' piece of plastic to the floor. Tape on all 4 sides. Leave it for a few days. If there is moisture between the plastic and concrete you have moisture to deal with.

Caution: waterproofing on the inside is temporary at best!!! In 5 years or so, even the best masonary sealer will fail. The only long term solution is to waterproof on the outside.

Next - consider how the space will be used - game room, bedroom, etc. Draw up a plan. Do you want an extra bathroom? How about a wet bar? All these things have special considerations that you need to address before starting any construction.

Other things to consider: how will the space be heated? On my street, none the basements needed anything done to the heat/AC. My bro-in-law had to have a new vent and cold air return installed.

What type of lighting do you want?
Do you have room in the fuse box/circuit breaker box for additional circuits? Yes, you will need additional circuits.

Bottom line - there is a lot of planning to do.
Old 10-05-01, 07:11 AM
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The advice about considering utilities and checking for moisture, is right on.

If you have moisture coming through the walls or floors, you have to correct that because you will have mold/mildew problems out the ears.(local saying).

MOST new homes are treated with the cheapest waterproofing that money can buy. Even if you do not have moisture problems now, you could in the future as these coating deteriorate and the walls get small cracks. Eventually water problems depend mostly on how much water is available to the stucture due formation of the land, ect.

If there is a potential problem check out the Drytonic sys.
It is a polarizing system that electonicly draws moisture from the building. Approved for government buildings.

If the walls are flat and not too wavy, you can install a single layer radiant barrier (RB) insulation material that is 97% efficient as compared to about 10% for fiber glass (FG). on 1x2's attached to the walls. It will not cause condensation, suspend moisture like FG either. Also you will not have potential health threatnening mold/mildew problems. You can staple the RB sheet in between 2x4 studs too.
RB info thru your search engine, "radiant barrier" or "reflective insulation".

If you have to put a vapor barrier on the floor and want an insulated floor also, do as follows.

Install floor protector. Lay a plastic film type RB over the protector, install a sub floor. You may have to use some tapcon screws to hold it down and prvent bouncy areas. Install your favorite floor covering. Total thinkness, about 1 1/4" + carpets.

Any questions about method or RB soures, please ask

Thank you for considering my opinion.
Old 10-10-01, 12:31 AM
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Lots of good info here from intelligent folks. Check this forum often as it may head off a future problem. My main recommendation is that you build the bathroom first (if adding one), particularly the tub surround. Also, devise a well thought out plan for layout and stick to it - changing plans mid-way through will greatly increase your construction time. And plan on it taking longer than you think. Be persistent - it's worth it!
Best of luck!

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