One of the first major projects I tackled when moving into my home was the basement. It was dark and dingy but had plenty of potential. This fall, take the time to finish your basement and create a cozy new addition to your home. You’ll first want to address any moisture or flooding issues: Waterproofing is crucial before finishing your basement to prevent moisture from ruining drywall, carpets, and other items. Once your basement is dry, you can move on to more fun aspects, such as design.
Tips and Tricks
Finishing a basement can be a major undertaking and a hefty investment, especially if you hire professionals to complete the job. Like with any home improvement project, there are several things to keep in mind to create a living space that’s sound and comfortable.
- Get a Permit: Check with your local municipality to see if you are required to get a permit. Most areas require permits for any type of building project or if you’re completing any electrical or plumbing work.
- Install a Vapor Barrier: Even if you’ve addressed any moisture issues, a basement can still feel damp. Add a vapor barrier to the walls and flooring prior to finishing off these surfaces.
- Add Insulation: As an extension of your living space, you want your basement to feel warm and cozy. Gain better control over the temperature by installing insulation.
- Conceal the Ceiling: Look up in your basement and you’ll likely see plumbing and electrical lines. By adding a suspended ceiling, you can hide these lines and create a homier feel.
- Opt for Recessed Lighting: A suspended ceiling leaves minimal room for hanging light fixtures. To increase the lighting in your basement, install space-saving recessed lighting.
- Skip the Utility Room: There’s no need to finish your utility room. This space is for housing your HVAC units and water heater, and it should remain open, clean, and unfinished so that it adheres to specific code requirements.
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is finishing a damp, wet, or flood-prone basement. It’s important to establish proper drainage and dehumidification to ensure that your basement stays dry. You’ll also want to avoid using the wrong materials. While materials like wood studs, drywall, and fiberglass installation are fine to use on your main living floors, the natural humidity in a basement can cause these materials to absorb moisture. When combined with organic matter, moist materials can lead to mold growth. Basements should be finished with only inorganic, waterproof materials.
There are plenty of design options to choose from for your basement. Larger families may choose to create a designated family room or game room where adults and children of all ages can hang out. Other options include a man cave, bar room, guest suite, theater, or gym. Create a space that best fits your family’s unique needs: The possibilities are nearly endless!