I've got a very dry, clean, tidy, high-ceilinged basement in a 4-year
old home, approx 25' X 45' in size. Unpainted concrete block walls.
Poured concrete floor with some minute cracks. The ground outside goes
about 3/4 of the way up. There is no evidence of leakage although
there is a sump pump that I hear turn on briefly every couple of days.
I want to finish off the basement dividing it into 4 rooms: furnace
room, family room, bedroom, bathroom.
Would the following be the best way to start:
1) seal and/or paint the inside block walls.
2) stud out with 2X4s positioned an additional 2" from the wall so
that I could stuff 6" fiberglas insulation between the 16" on center
3. Cover it all with plastic before screwing on 1/2" drywall
Is this arrangement inviting condensation? Should I maybe delete any
seals and use a de-humidifier instead? Should the bottom 2X4 plate be
pressure-treated? Do I even need insulation... wouldn't the dirt
outside be insulation enough? Is step #1 even needed?
Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks.
im not real happy with the plastic. Id prefer to manage the water from
the outside rather than trapping it behind the plastic. i would
investigate where that sump system is draining from. if its running
that infrequently it does not look like you will have any serious
problems if the piping is outside of the foundation .
"Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor
I dunno. The block is sealed. Then plastic? You've now locked in
whatever moisture there is into the wall cavity. I'd probably seal the
block and use rigid insulation. Then build the wall with a bit of space
between it and the insulation for air movement.
Since I've been planning a similar project, I've been doing a lot of
reading in the trade mags, etc., and here is what I think is the best
Using foam adhesive, glue 2 inch thick foam board to the walls,
completely covering them. Seal all seams with the tape made for the
Build your uninsulated stud wall in front of but not against the foam,
leaving an inch or two for air to circulate.
Here are the advantages of doing it this way.
No chance for warm humid basement air to contact cold outside wall and
condense, potentially causing mold problems. (There is almost no way
to prevent this when using fiberglass...it's just too hard to get a
perfect vapor barrier.)
Not having insulation in the wall assembly makes it easier to run
wires and plumbing.
2 inches of foam has higher r value than 6 inches of fiberglass.
2 inches of polyisocyanurate has approximately the same R-value as 3.5"
of fiberglass. Most people would use the cheaper blue or pink foam
board, which would require 4" of foam to equal the 6" of fiberglass.
Bedrooms require a secondary means of egress, usually a sufficiently
large window whose sill is at most 44" above the finish floor. So
you'll probably need to install a window well for a bedroom in the
========================My Local "Code" does require a second means of EGRESS from Bedrooms..
which like Wayne notes may require you to install a window and a
window well outside... HOWEVER ...if you devide the basement up
into Furnace room, family room,Sewing room, and bathroom no window
would be required..
Mine home is like that...I just can not sell the house as a 5 bedroom
home.. my wife loves to sew so we have 2 sewing rooms downstarirs
none of which have a sewing machine...
My understanding is that any room with a closet and a door that
separates it from the rest of the house is considered a bedroom for
egress requirements. Also, I believe that some jurisdictions require
a secondary egress route from any finished basement, with or without
bedrooms. That is, a basement with no bedrooms would require one
secondary egress, located anywhere in the basement; a basement with
bedrooms would require one secondary egress in each bedroom.
So to the OP, check with the local jurisdiction about egress
Yes use cement block sealer, I used a powder I mixed with water and painted
it on with a wall paper paste brush. Did two coats since after putting up
walls hopefully will never see them again. I used PT lumber for bottom of
frames and galvanized nails, my frames were nailed together then tipped up,
be sure to leave enough clearance. I found predrilling holes in the PT
lumber was a good idea since driving galvanized nails through wasn't easy,
mainly because I wasn't hitting a real firm surface.
I used a drop ceiling but left several ducts uncovered, just painted them
You didn't say how much head room you have in the basement. If your
basement doesn't have enough vertical space, you may not even want to
be bothered with finishing it. After leveling the floor, adding a drop
ceiling, you might find that the ceiling is kind of low. Please check
the head room before proceeding with this project.
You may also need to decide if you have enough storage space after you
have converted the basement from storage into living space. If you
have already had enough living space, you may want to leave good enough
You may want to level the floor before framing up the wall. If you
find that one side of the room is higher than the other side after you
have already framed the wall, you will have to level the floor, and the
build up on the floor may be so high that the bottom plate of the wood
frame may be below the floor level (after you have put on the
flooring); then you will have to build up the bottom plate of the wood
frame in order to have a nailing surface for the baseboard. Moreover,
framing a wall on a level ground is easier than trying to frame on the
group that is uneven. Having said that, I need to point out that you
don't need to worry about this if the floor is rough but is basically
This is a good idea to paint the basement wall with thing like DryLock
to seal the wall. Still, you should use plastic sheet to cover both
sides of the wall frame that is covering the basement wall to avoid any
possibility that miosture may get into the insulation (in case moisture
gets through from the basement floor that is not sealed).
Hope everything will be fine.
I curse the previous owners of my house that put up the 12X12
interlocking ceiling tiles stapled to furring strips. Impossible to
take one down to run a cable line, phone wire, etc. If I were to redo
it, I would just spray everything in the ceiling flat black. Looks
great, no clearnace issues, and if you ever need to run something new
it is open. Get a can of black spray paint and spray whatever new
pipe, wire etc. so it blends in.
On 31 Jan 2006 09:23:49 -0800, email@example.com wrotF:
Floor to bottom of joist is 9'. How do I test whether the floor is
perfectly level? There's a bilco door from the basement to the
outside. I'll try to integrate that into the bedroom floor plan
instead of putting in a larger window.
9-ft should be enough. 8-ft for living space should be enough to meet
the code (please check your local building code). Then you will have
1-ft left for the flooring and the drop ceiling. A drop ceiling with
2'x2' square grid should only need very little vertical space
(something like 6" or less) for moving a ceiling tile in place. Then
you will have as much as 6" for leveling the floor and for the
flooring. 6" sounds a lot. But some methods of leveling the floor may
require you to have a raised floor, and 6" may or may not be enough.
There are probably many ways to check the floor to see if it is level.
The way that I suggest is to use a water-tube-level or a laser-level to
draw a level line around your basement wall. And then transfer that
level line down close to the floor level -- such as 1" above the floor.
Now, you have a solid level line marked on the wall 1" above the
floor. Then you need two persons to do the following:
o Each holds one end of a string.
o Move to a corner of the basement.
o One person holds the string against one side of the wall right
at the level line that you have drawn; another person holds
the string against another side of the wall also at the level line.
o One person moves the string along the level line. This causes
the string to sweep across the floor. The other person observes
the distance between the string and the floor. If the floor is
truely level, the distance should remain the same (such as 1"
in this example). If not, the other person should mark down the
high spot on the floor. The purposes of this sweep are to find out
if the floor is truely level, and to find the highest spot on the
o If the floor is not level, and you have found the highest spot of
the floor, you need to re-draw the level line in a way that the
new level is barely above the highest spot of the floor. The new
level line may be above or below the existing level line; this is
o Sweep the floor one more time. This time you follow the newly
re-drawn level line. You need to mark down not only the high
spots, but also the low spots, and you need to measure how
deep the low spots are from the level line.
o Now, you have the numbers of all the low spots ready. Draw
the layout of your basement on a piece of paper and put the
numbers on it.
o Examine the numbers to see how bad the situation is. If the
floor is basically level with a small number of sunken areas,
you may decide to level the floor yourself. If the floor is
unlevel, you may decide to hire a pro to level the floor for you,
or you may decide to drop this project all together. If the floor
is tilting to one side significantly, you may need to hire a pro
to see if the foundation of your house is in trouble or not.
I have no comment on how to integrate the basement exterior door with
your floor plan. But if you decide to place the exterior door inside
the bedroom, you may want to make sure that the interior door of the
bedroom is large enough for you to move applicants from outdoor to the
other area of the basement via the bedroom.
Hope your project will be fine.
I also don't like the idea of using interlocking ceiling tiles. But a
drop ceiling is a completely different animal. We can easily remove a
ceiling tile from a drop ceiling because the ceiling tile is not
stapled onto the grid. It is just resting on the grid by gravity.
Actually, I have run network wiring through out my finished basement
(that has a drop ceiling) _after_ I had the drop ceiling in place, and
I didn't have any problem doing this. Obviously, I should have
installed the wiring _before_ I put the drop ceiling in place. But
that was before I got TiVo-like service (PVR) and high speed internet;
therefore, I didn't feel the need to have networking in my house when I
finished my basement.
I had thought of painting the basement ceiling in black. But other
people told me that this would make the ceiling even more apparent to
our eyes with all those pipes painted in black, and they recommended
painting the ceiling in light color. I don't understand the logic.
But when I sat in someone's basement (in a restaurant) that has its low
ceiling painted white, I felt fine. When I saw a ceiling being painted
black, it tended to be in a high ceiling with decorative banners that
block the view of the ceiling. Therefore, this logic seems to be
right. At that time, I didn't know whether I should paint it in black
or in white, and I decided not to deal with this issue, and I simply
install a drop ceiling. The drop ceiling turns out to be a better
choice than painting the ceiling. The reason it is better is that when
I run cable in the basement ceiling, I don't need to paint the cable; I
simply mount the cable in the ceiling behind the drop ceiling.
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