Basement finishing questions

I am planning on finishing my basement off and have a few questions. I'm sure I'll have more as I go.
#1- How far between studs? Is 24" o.k.? I plan on putting insulation between them, so does it depend more on widths of the bats? They oviously won't be load bearing walls.
#2- As far as vapor barrier, it goes between the studs & drywall, correct?
#3- I've read the bottom boards/plates(?) should be pressure-treated in case they come in contact with water...God forbid, Does anyone do this?
#4- Should there be a vapor barrier plastic under the carpet padding when it goes down?
Thanks,
-Joel
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If you have any moisture commimg in finishing walls is not advisable . It will trap the moisture and mold. I used foam panels, removable and check once a year.
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On Mon, 15 Dec 2003 22:30:52 -0600 (CST), snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote:

That's ridiculous! Noone will want to remove and check their walls once a year.
I don't believe you.
PJ
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On Mon, 15 Dec 2003 22:17:53 -0600, "Network-Man"

24" is the usual spacing on the outside walls; 16" on partition walls.

Vapour barrier goes on the WARM side of the wall.

It's neither usual or necessary.

Not necessary. If the floor isn't dry, the basement shouldn't be finished.
HTH
Ken

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fixing the water issue first. If your going to insulate you should stud every 16". Insulation is more available in that dimension. I put a vapor barrier against the cement in my cellar and one over the insulation before the drywall. Cement foundation walls are inherently damp and cooler than the insulation, making condensation, which will eventually ruin the insulation. Pressure treated lumber is strictly for exterior use, it should never be inside living space. There are some builders getting away from using it outdoors now too, Again if your worried about water you shouldn't be finishing.
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If you're interested, I'll tell you how I went about doing my basement. I'm at the finishing stage now...doors, trim, and ceiling. I'm in limbo now on how to treat the ceiling, but that's beside the point isn't it.
I live in a part of Canada where the winters commonly dip to -35, and occasionally we have -40 to -45 Celsius. The soil in my area is extremely sandy and the water table is high. The block basement walls are in perfect condition, as is the floor. Not a crack or leak anywhere. Not bad for a 30 year old house. The only time I've had moisture problems was when the rain gutter was allowed to empty right at the corner of the house. The result was visibly damp blocks inside the house...just at the corner. But because the damp sandy soil "wicks" some moisture up through the floor, there is often patches of white puffy "effloresce" forming.
This being my first house and first renovation project, I was very careful about doing things right...to the point of going way above and beyond building codes. Except for the furnace, water heater, and electrical panel I completely gutted the basement. It stayed this way for a year while I did research. I talked to local contractors who specialize in foundations, I talked to renovators and local experienced home builders.
This is how I went about finishing my basement. I painted an oil based concrete sealer PAINT on the outside walls. At the advice of my local building code inspector I only painted up to the outside ground level. To seal the floor, I used a special (expensive) treatment that strengthens and seals the concrete. In Canada the brand name is "Aqua Guard". In the States I think "Xypex" is the common name. The factory where I work uses that product extensively in wet areas. Concrete grain terminals use it to water proof their huge storage areas. The manufacturer states that the sealer penetrates inches into the concrete, forming a barrier. Extremely easy to apply. I'm happy with the results. But I also put a double layer of heavy poly between the sole plates and the floor. The walls are 2x4 construction of course, but I left a 2" gap between the concrete basement wall and the new 2x4 wall. A local house builder uses that method. This method isolates the 2x4 from the concrete so less heat is lost through conduction. But more importantly I was able to put 5.5" R20 insulation in the basement walls. (2" gap plus 3.5" equal 5.5"...the thickness of R20). In case you don't know...this is a good time to warn you....stuffing and compacting insulation into a cavity is not good. The fiberglass batts need to expand to it's intended thickness. If you compact 3.5" R12 insulation into a 2" cavity, you won't have R12 protection. One minor thing I did wrong was to insulate R20 down to 18" above floor level. The bottom 18" I only insulated R12, because I thought it would be beneficial to leave a "breathing" gap at the lowest level in case I ever needed to vent the perimeter with a fan or dehumidifier. Since then I've learned that leaving that open gap compromises heat loss. Apparently that 2" thick gap all along the bottom perimeter of the wall allows air movement. Not a big deal seeing that most of the wall is insulated R20, but still....if you're splitting hairs.....
Don't skimp on the poly that you will be putting between the insulated walls and the wallboard. Use building code approved poly. The poly will probably be in excess width of your wall height. Don't cut off the extra. Staple the poly from the floor up so the excess is at the top of the wall. I used the excess to wrap over the top plate and onto the sill plate (the wooden 2x8 that sits on top of the concrete wall....the joists sit on top of it). Remember, you are trying to create a vapor barrier between the moist warm side of the house and the cold side. In order to fold the poly over the top plate you'll have to cut and fit the poly where ever a joist runs. While you're working in that area, remember to insulate between the joists at the outside perimeter (along the header)...remember you have to have a vapor barrier there as well. The method I used to insulate between the joists against the outside header is like this: I cut chunks of R20 fiberglass insulation to fit between the joists. Instead of fumbling with poly for the vapor barrier I used rigid Styrofoam insulation board...1" thickness. I cut the foam insulation to fit snugly between the joists, and pushed it up next to the fiberglass insulation. I then caulked around the edges of the foam insulation to both secure it and to seal it off. USE A SPECIAL caulking that doesn't eat Styrofoam. I spaced the uprights 24 inches apart through out my whole basement. In hindsight I should have used 16 oc. Also plan your studs very carefully. I made a few mistakes in that area. With studs spaced 24" o.c. it's more critical that your drywall is secured firmly...especially with the insulation pushing on it. If your studs are out 1/4" or if they are not perfectly plumb, you will find it a challenge where two sheets of drywall butt up along the stud. If your seam is too much off the center of a 1.5" stud, you're going to be putting that drywall screw close to the edge, which compromises the strength of the drywall. This is one of the reasons I would go with 16 o.c. studs.(more strength over all if you DO run into mis aligned joints). If you're not experienced with framing and drywalling, I stress again....PLAN YOUR STUDS carefully. When it came to do the drywalling, I found myself having to tack on 3/4" boards along the 2x4 studs because I found myself short of drywall support. ALSO, anywhere you are putting a light switch or outlet, DO NOT attach the box directly to the stud. Nail an 8" block along the stud and then attach the box to that. The reason for this is drywall again. If your drywall seam falls on the same stud that you've put an electrical box, then you only have a 3/4" strip between the box and the edge of the drywall. This will surely be damaged during screwing, and it will interfere with the taping and mudding later on.
On taping and mudding: If you're going to be using gloss paint I would definitely get a professional to do your drywall finishing. Gloss paints will expose a beginner's job glaringly!! Even if you don't plan on using glossy paint, I'd practice with the taping and mudding in an inconspicuous areas. Don't cheap out on the finishing tools, don't get a fast setting mud. Don't sand drywall without wearing a mask. Either ventilate the air to the outside or use a shop-vac sanding attachment. If you use a shop-vac, make sure you use a filter bag specified for drywall dust. If you don't, you'll ruin your shop-vac and have dust all over your house.
As for the poly under the carpeting...I'm not sure. I've been told that it's a good idea to put ply under carpeting even if the floor is going to be a bit damp. I'm not sure what I'm going to do.
In hind sight I would say 1) if you're framing a pocket for a shower, buy the shower package first so you know the exact dimensions to make the pocket. I didn't do that...I just estimated. Some how I completely lucked out and made the pocket perfect size. *whew..."looking towards the sky"*
2) plan your studs...especially your inside and outside corners...get a book on framing so you know the proper procedures for corners.
Ivan

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16" o.c is standard, and required by code where I live.

kraft faced batts. Check on what code is in your area.

Again, this is required by code, in our area. Any lumber in contact with concrete is required to be treated, or made of cedar, redwood, or other natually rot reisitant wood.

proceeding with the project.
Dave

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I finished my basemennt as a workroom and laundry. I userd stainless steel studs and they are excellent. They are about the same cost as wood, they don't warp, they are much lighter to handle, adding cross beams is quick and easy (they just snap in) and there are holes provided for wires and pipes. Recommend them highly! ds

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all true statements except the stainless steel. I don't think so.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep the whole world singing. . . . DanG

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Thanks for all replies. There's no water at all, just want to try and get a handle on the cold-air-meets-warm-air-and-make- water thing.
Next question, How about attaching bottom board top the concrete floor? Conststruction adhesive, Tapcon screws, .22cal power loads, combination of adhesive & power loads? I read somewhere (again) someone didn't think it was a good idea to put the holes in the floor and just used adhesive.
Thanks again.
-Joel
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On Wed, 17 Dec 2003 19:18:06 -0600, "Network-Man"

Power loads.
Ken
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I just finished my concrete-floor basement where we do have seepage problems with 2x3s since nothing's structural. You don't have water, but I think how we did ours might be an idea about how to help your floor stay a bit warmer. We took scrap sections of 2x3 about 6-8" long and Tapcon'd them every 16-18" or so into the floor to serve as "feet" of sorts. Then we laid and air-nailed the main floor 2x3 onto the "feet."
In a perfect world, plowing anything sharp a few inches long into concrete foundation isn't a good idea given the nature of force and water hydraulics, but fortunately in this imperfect world, foundations are thick enough for Tapcon screws long enough to secure a 2x3 to not create a problem on its own.
The only thing is by doing things this way, you have to have enough raised flooring solution(s) to bring what will be your final top floor material up about 2 inches or so.
AJS

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snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.net.com.org said...

Why not just lay the strips on the ground and attach the floor to them thought fastening them to the concrete? Or just glue them down to hold them in place.
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Network-Man wrote:

Power loads on the bottom and shims on the top. I believe I used about two for every eight foot section. It was fun and fast. On the 24" vs. 16" on-center spacing, you'll save a few studs with the wider dimension, but you'll have less flexibility when it comes to hanging heavy shelves and the like.
dss
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Here's what I did:
I have basement walls made of solid granite blocks, each about 1-2 feet high and maybe a foot thick, chinked with cement from a local quarry. This was the cheap and easy way to do things about 100 years ago when the house was built. First I spent several years sealing wall leaks with portland cement. Later I sealed any weepy areas with asphalt roof sealer. Be sure to check the place where the floor meets the walls. I also grooved the floor to direct any water that might possible flow in during a flood or really heavy rain into the floor drains and poured a maybe 4 inch high slab in front of the door leading to the bulkhead steps to direct water coming down the bulkhead stairs into a floor drain. This worked OK until the water table got up to the top of the drains. I built (non-loadbearing) walls, as close to the granite blocks as I could get. The walls were 2x4 on 2x4 sills. Maybe I could have used 2x3, but I didn't want the walls to flex once I put on the wallboard. I wrapped builder's poly (4 mil? 6 mil? as thick as I could get) around the sills so if the floor leaked the wood wouldn't be sitting in water. I didn't want PT wood where kids or pets could chew on the arsenate or cuprate or whatever. The studs were spaced 16 inches, but I should have used 24 inches--faster and cheaper to build. I put builder's poly on the granite basement wallside BETWEEN the false wall and the basemnent wall so any condensation on the basement wall wouldn't get the insullation wet. I used R-13 kraft faced insullation; the kraft went on the inside, toward the warm area, as usual and I faced this with poly as well, making a hopefully waterproof sandwich with the fiberglass insullation between two layers of poly. For the ceiling I just put in R-13 held up with chicken wire between the joists. (or use those springy wire things) I put a couple of vents in the wall--just areas where there were framed out gaps in the fiberglass so any moisture in the space between the walls could vent. I got a buy on some interlocking heavy rubber pads for the floor from the local Surplus Store (don't pay Home Depot prices--I paid $10 for 16 square feet). Final step was/will be to cover the insullation with 1/2" wallboard as time and $ permit. Put down a piece of plastic on the floor and just leave it there for a while. If water vapor comes through the floor, you'll see it under the plastic and you'll need to seal the floor. My floor was tight, but I put down a couple coats of Thompson's Waterseal anyway in case the washer overflowed.
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snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.net.com.org said...

Bad advice. Vapor barrier should absolutely go between studs and rock in a basement if you don't already have it elsewhere on the wall. You don't want any moisture getting to the back of your rock or it's a mold breeding ground. You also want to make sure that your rock is as high from the floor as possible. The bottom few inches are covered by trim anyway. I usually install a plywood base about 1/2" shorter than the base molding which makes a better nailer anyway. The better move is to use some kind of paneling if the look works for you. Wainscoting will keep your rock a good few feet off of the floor. I did that in my old house.
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Um, hate to point out the obvious, but if you're already building your wall several inches above the floor (and any floor moisture), then your rock has no way possible to touch the moisture. Last I checked, things do not mold unless it gets wet in the first place.
Let's say you do vapor barrier. It does nothing about all that roll insulation most people use between the foundation and the barrier getting all moist and moldy, does it?
Again, you can vapor barrier all you want, but unless you've got moisture leaking thru your foundation itself or have some sort of rain forest-esque humidity between the wall and the rock, it's a complete waste of money because moisture isn't touching anything that's been set several inches above floor level in the first place.
AJS
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snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.net.com.org said...

If you don't think moisture is going to build up between a cool basement wall and a warm, finished basement room, you don't know much about basements.
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wrote:

I imagine that *could* happen if you keep the thermostat at a constant 95, maybe. You obviously live with old people, or are one yourself.
I've always lived in houses with finished basements over cement foundation, and every single one of them without vapor barrier in the walls. Not a speck of moisture or mold in there. Not even at my parents house, where the original 30+-year-old drywall and roll insulation was ripped out for remodel.
So ... again ... either you live in a sauna, or someone's been doing something strange with your own basement(s), kimosabe.
AJS
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Well regardless of the senseless language, I'm sure God enjoyed it, they do make roll insulation for 24" centers. 16" or 24 " has to be your personal choice, 16" probably better and I put vapor barrier between drywall and sidewall studs as well as ceiling some 36 years ago on main floor and wish I had in basement side walls where I used rough sawn Wainscot about 40" up .
Walt Conner
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