FREE SHIPPING ON SAMPLES + FLOORING ORDERS OF 1000+ SQUARE FEET
June 28, 2021
BASEMENTS. They loom, full of promise and mystery, so very tempting. All that space! It could be anything you ever wanted. Why wouldn’t you want to finish it and make it not just livable but a thriving space that’s perfect for you?
However, this kind of renovation has a lot more moving parts than the other spaces in your home for a large number of reasons. Not all basements are created equal, which is why we wanted to make you a list of things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about renovating. Read on for our list of things to consider if you’re planning to finish your basement!
OLDER HOMES? MAYBE NOT.
We love, love, LOVE older homes. The details, the craftsmanship, the history! My grandmother used to have the most beautiful home in Ohio, and I still dream about the wrought iron stair rails, the mouldings and the gorgeous stained glass windows. However, that basement? A total nightmare. It was dark, it was damp, it was SCARY. That was not a basement that could be finished, that’s for sure. And that’s a real truth here - not all homes are designed to have finished basements. Older homes, most built before the 90s, were not actually meant to have livable basements. The foundations weren’t waterproof, the concrete didn’t have a vapor barrier and water management was seriously sub-par.
If you’ve got an older home, you’ve absolutely got to do your due diligence and get everything thoroughly inspected, because it very well may be that your basement won’t have the integrity to safely be renovated and inhabited. Jeff Thorman of Homerenovision DIY said it best - the materials you bring in become a total loss the second they come down those stairs. There’s just way too much risk of water damage.
And if you have a younger home - surprise, you’ve still absolutely got to do your homework! Is there a vapor barrier under your concrete? Any cracks in your foundation? Window wells? Drainage graded away from the house? Do everything you can to protect and insulate your space from moisture. Seal rim joints, make sure your egress windows are pristine, waterproof your walls. Set your basement up for success!
KEEP IT UP TO CODE
You’ve got the moisture in check and you’re working on your plans - make sure you know what permits you’ll need for any work you’re going to do, and that everything you’re planning will be up to code. This is ESPECIALLY necessary if you’re planning any electrical or plumbing work. We know it’s not the most fun, but getting all these ducks in a row before you get started will keep you from having to make costly repairs afterwards - and will also keep you safe! Recessed lights, for example, are a great choice for a basement since they don’t take up valuable vertical space, but you do need to make sure that the wiring and the products themselves align with your necessary regulations. Due diligence really is the name of the game when it comes to basements!
SUBFLOOR - PICK YOUR FIGHTER CAREFULLY!
Concrete floors are pretty much the antithesis of a finished basement, we’re well aware, so one of the most exciting parts of a remodel is picking a brand spankin’ new floor. And to keep that shiny new floor in good shape you’ll absolutely need a subfloor on top of that concrete. It’s not always necessary, especially if you’re installing on top of an existing floor, but nowhere is it more important than in your basement. It should be clear by now that moisture is no joke and that preventing rot and other damage should be your first priority.
First of all, this is separate from a moisture barrier, which you would have taken care of during due diligence time before you got started. Next, survey your options. You can go with a simple plywood subfloor which floats over the concrete, separated by plastic or a moisture barrier. This is the most cost effective, and can do the job, but it doesn’t offer quite as many benefits as the other options. You can choose to go with a rigid foam insulation barrier, which is thicker and offers more thermal insulation, and often paired with plywood on top. This is a good choice for homes in which the vapor barrier is built into the floor. Your third option is a subfloor panel, which comes in tiles backed on OSB and a closed-cell insulation system on the bottom. These tiles are thin and create a matrix underneath that allows air and water to mix for optimal evaporation.
Something to keep in mind with a thicker subfloor is that it will have an impact on your stairs. Some newer-built homes take that into account and the first step up from the basement floor is a bit higher to make up for that added floor height.
One more thing - if all possible, install your subfloor before you build your walls. There’s no code that makes this mandatory, but it creates a seal that can keep a lot of moisture out. Another Jeff-ism that perfectly sums this up: you’ve got to put your dock on the water before you can put the chairs on the dock.
GIVE YOUR SPACE SOME SPACE
The space added by a subfloor system like the panel mentioned above adds a lot of protection from water events. The space is necessary for creating evaporation and preventing any water from sitting - that’s the real enemy. A moisture barrier is a valiant fighter and protector but it needs as much help as it can get, so creating an offset space in your walls is an excellent insurance policy. An offset space can be built with thin slats of wood or metal separating the outside wall from your newly built one.
Another form of offset space that can help you with housing any wiring and plumbing lines without making them super obvious or impossible to access - a drop ceiling. A very prominent complaint with drop ceilings is that they look corporate, but - it’s 2021! There are a whole lot of more attractive options out there now.
IT IS WHAT IT IS!
A couple of hard truths here:
And there you have it! The main takeaway here? Water may be your friend, but it’s definitely not your basement’s. Do your research, take your time, and make smart and careful choices - we know we’re a broken record on that when it comes to DIY, but we’ll just keep right on playing the same tune. DIY is such a tempting space, but without your ***due diligence*** (we’re saying it again!) it can very easily go from thrifty to tragic.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
November 02, 2021
September 24, 2021
September 08, 2021