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Old 10-14-2013, 02:04 PM   #1
jules083 OP
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How to finish basement

My basement is typical construction, concrete floor and block walls. This winter's project is to make it a 'finished' basement, but nothing high-dollar/high maintenance. The main goal is to make it warmer and cut down on condensation problems I have. All summer the cold walls/high humidity made everything sweat, and there wasn't much I could do to keep the humidity down. Got some mold on furniture, a musty smell, and tools started rusting in the tool box.

I have no leaks, and there is no vapor barrier under the slab but the walls have one. I know, the slab should have one. It doesn't though, so this is what I have to work with. Also it's a 'daylight basement' and I park bikes there in the winter, so the floor covering needs to be able to support that type of use. Nothing heavy really, just a few dirt bikes/dual sports. 350LBS max.

After weeding through many websites and information it seems like the best idea is this:

Walls:

Spray glue insulation sheets to block. Screw furring strips through insulation into block, then screw drywall to that. Use no plastic or vapor barrier. Tape insulation sheets to seal them together, then seal the top but leave the bottom unsealed. Sound right? Tapcon screws sound good? The sheets I was looking at in Lowe's come in 1" thick sheets for $16 and 2" thick for $32. I was planning on the 2" I think, unless someone can talk me out of it. I heat with wood so the ROI is going to be terrible for me either way. The walls are 8' 3" to the bottom of the floor joists, so 8' sheets would work fine. Cheat them down 1/2" and seal the top there, and the bottom gap would be taken up by the flooring.

Floor:

Here's where I keep seeing conflicting arguments. Sheet insulation laid out, OSB on that, then flooring material. I'm not sure the best way to secure it, or prevent warping. I also find sites that say to put plastic down to seal out vapor, then other sites say the plastic will cause problems due to mold and never having a chance to dry out. For the flooring material itself I'm planning on going with something cheap and easy to clean. Vinyl sheeting would probably work fine I think, although I've never installed it. Something like this:

http://www.lowes.com/pd_375548-55274...3D1&facetInfo=

For the insulation I was thinking 1" should probably be sufficient here. I doubt there's much heat loss through the floor, and the rest of the flooring should help make up the difference. Under the entry door I have a max of 1.5" to play with, so that would be a consideration also. I'm halfway thinking about leaving that section concrete and just put a mat down, I'm not sure. Even with using 1" insulation I'd gain probably 2" in height, so something different would have to happen there. Again, it doesn't have to look perfect as long as it works.

Also part of the basement floor will have to wait until later, if at all. This is a winter project so moving the furnace isn't happening yet. It's a wood-fired furnace, so either way the floor around it will need special consideration. I'll likely section off that area then use a more fire-resistant flooring later on.


Any ideas? Anything I said that I should change or consider something different? I live in Ohio, it rarely gets below 20 and generally warms up to about 30 or 35 every day in the winter.
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:31 PM   #2
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I used ready made 2' tiles of flooring material. It was made up of a layer of 1/2 " blue styrofoam insulation and 1/2 " OSB. tongue and grooved together it was easy to put down. Styro had grooves in it to channel any liquid out. I put laminate flooring over that to finish. Made the basement as warm as any room upstairs even at -40C outside.
Walls were 2x4 studed out with fiberglass insulation and then vapor barrier and drywall
Make sure you leave at least 1/4" gap between drywall and the floor cement or it will suck the moisture up.
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Old 10-14-2013, 05:07 PM   #3
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If you want to cut the cost down a bit just use an allweather type carpet and keep a dehumidifier down there running. Never have to worry about a carpet/pad getting ruined from any basement flooding or water.
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Old 10-14-2013, 05:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by wos View Post
I used ready made 2' tiles of flooring material. It was made up of a layer of 1/2 " blue styrofoam insulation and 1/2 " OSB. tongue and grooved together it was easy to put down. Styro had grooves in it to channel any liquid out. I put laminate flooring over that to finish. Made the basement as warm as any room upstairs even at -40C outside.
Walls were 2x4 studed out with fiberglass insulation and then vapor barrier and drywall
Make sure you leave at least 1/4" gap between drywall and the floor cement or it will suck the moisture up.
Where'd you get the flooring at? I looked at Lowe's earlier and didn't see anything like that.
I take it the 1/2" of insulation is enough? I didn't imagine it would take much for the floor.




Quote:
Originally Posted by worldrider555 View Post
If you want to cut the cost down a bit just use an allweather type carpet and keep a dehumidifier down there running. Never have to worry about a carpet/pad getting ruined from any basement flooding or water.
The electric cost of a dehumidifier will probably offset any insulation savings pretty quick I'd think. I would end up spending less than $500 on the insulation sheets anyways for the floor.

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Old 10-17-2013, 01:21 PM   #5
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Ok, been doing some more research and I think a plan is starting to come together somewhat.

For the walls I'm sticking with my original plan. Glue sheets up, furring strips, drywall. I can do R-10 for about $1000, or R-15 for about $1500. Rough numbers, a few hundred either way isn't going to make much difference. I'm thinking though that R-10 should be plenty. Currently I just have bare block and it's actually quite warm in the winter because of the wood burner. Warmer basement=warmer house though, because my stairwell is completely open and heat rises. Also I have very limited ductwork and rely on natural air currents to warm most rooms. I've proven over the winters that without a warm basement it simply doesn't work, and part of the house is nearly always the exact same temp as the basement.

I'm thinking I should probably keep the wall a few inches off of the floor in case there is a leak, does that sound right? Maybe just lay a 2x4 out for a spacer then remove it when I'm done for an 1 1/2" gap. If and when I do the floor I can just tuck it under that gap and hit it with spray foam.

Last question here, should I paint the block with a water-resistant paint before gluing the sheets up? Part of me says that the paint will keep part of the moisture from soaking through. Another part says that after 5 years the paint will be bubbling and falling apart behind the wall, and will make the glue for the sheets ineffective. The furring strips will be helping hold the insulation anyways, so that might not matter.



On the floor, I'm likely going to get fancy and use paint. . I think that just doing the walls will give me a large portion of what I want to accomplish for now. Paint will be quicker and much cheaper. Next winter if I feel like I need to do something I can go back and do the floor. It might not be that bad though.



Remember the main goals are temperature control, comfort, reliability, and easy care. Aesthetics isn't a huge concern. My attitude is that if you don't like my basement, don't go in my basement. As far and me and my girlfriend, either one of us would be perfectly happy living in a warm and dry shack. Wouldn't bother me a bit.
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Old 10-17-2013, 03:22 PM   #6
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If it were me...

I'd 2x4 the walls, fibreglass between, vapor barrier, drywall, mud, paint. Same for the roof.

I'd save the floor for next year, and think about those choices once you've lived down there a bit. You may want to stay with a concrete floor if keeping the bikes there. If you want to turn it into a living space, tv room later, then I'd get the 2x2 panels, wood/corrugated plastic.

The above is pretty common these days in Canada. Depending on the size you could heat the place with a small electric space heater.
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Old 10-17-2013, 06:30 PM   #7
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First thing you need to do is knock out that humidity. If you don't take care of that, your asking for trouble when you cover the walls and floor.
I've lived in a few places with finished basements, the one thing they all had in common, no matter how they were finished, they were still basements, which means humidity and dampness. Save yourself the headache, if you don't NEED it fancy stay away from things that soak up moisture such as carpet, drywall, fabrics.
What are your plans for the basement? If it's just motorcycle parking and general recreation, keep it very simple, paint/seal the floor and paint/seal the walls and put in a suspended ceiling and call it a day. That's what we did with our current house because we got tired of worrying about dampness and flooding. We use it as a game room/gym/storage.
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:26 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ray h View Post
First thing you need to do is knock out that humidity. If you don't take care of that, your asking for trouble when you cover the walls and floor.
I've lived in a few places with finished basements, the one thing they all had in common, no matter how they were finished, they were still basements, which means humidity and dampness. Save yourself the headache, if you don't NEED it fancy stay away from things that soak up moisture such as carpet, drywall, fabrics.
What are your plans for the basement? If it's just motorcycle parking and general recreation, keep it very simple, paint/seal the floor and paint/seal the walls and put in a suspended ceiling and call it a day. That's what we did with our current house because we got tired of worrying about dampness and flooding. We use it as a game room/gym/storage.
Basically you nailed it on the head. This is the exact type of advice I've been looking for.

I know that covering the walls and floor with something that will absorb moisture is asking for trouble. I've read that the sheets of insulation are closed cell and won't cause problems, which is why I am looking at that route. If drywall will potentially cause problems I won't use it. No big deal there.

The idea with insulation is mainly for temperature control, but also for moisture control. In the winter the basement is bone dry. No worries. In the summer the back wall and floor are cold, which causes condensation. It's noticeable, and the temperature of the wall is less than the dew point fairly often. Logically thinking putting sheets of insulation will stop that as long as they are sealed against the wall.

I have no interest in a suspended ceiling though. Maybe one day, but since it doesn't really seem to serve a purpose I'm not too worried about it.


Here's one link I've found, and a few paragraphs from it. I have no idea how credible the source is, but the information seems to go along with other sites I've read.

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/...-basement-wall


The best way to insulate a basement wall on the interior is with foam insulation that is adhered or attached directly to the concrete. Any of the following insulation materials are acceptable for this purpose: closed-cell spray polyurethane foam, XPS, EPS, or polyisocyanurate.
Rigid foam can be adhered to concrete with foam-compatible adhesive or can be attached with special fasteners like Hilti IDP fasteners or Rodenhouse Plasti-Grip PMF fasteners. (For more information on using Hilti IDP fasteners to attach rigid foam to a basement wall, see Marc Rosenbaum’s article, Basement Insulation — Part 2. For more information on Rodenhouse Plasti-Grip PMF fasteners, see New Green Building Products — June 2013.) To prevent interior air from reaching the cold concrete, make sure to seal the perimeter of each piece of rigid foam with adhesive, caulk, a high-quality European tape, or canned spray foam



Can I insulate on the interior with fiberglass batts?
No. Fiberglass batts are air-permeable. When fiberglass batts are installed in contact with concrete, the moisture in the interior air condenses against the cold concrete surface, leading to mold and rot. That’s why I advise builders that fiberglass batts and mineral wool insulation should never be used in a basement.
The risk of moisture problems is reduced if the concrete is first covered with a continuous layer of rigid foam or closed-cell spray foam.


Should I include a polyethylene vapor barrier?
No. Basement wall systems should never include any polyethylene. You don’t want poly between the concrete and the insulation; nor do you want poly between gypsum drywall and the insulation. You don’t want poly anywhere.
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Old 10-18-2013, 06:23 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by ray h View Post


First thing you need to do is knock out that humidity.



+100


no matter how much time and effort you put into fixing up the basement, it will all be ruined by moisture.

it all starts with controlling water from the outside.
do you have rain gutters?
do they dump right at the bottom?
route that water far away from the foundation.
do you water plants right around your foundation?
switch to plants that will handle less watering.
or add a sidewalk around the perimeter.
does your neighbor's property act as a watershed and channel more water to your basement?
don't forget some kind of dry-lock paint on the walls at least.

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Old 10-18-2013, 08:08 AM   #10
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+100


no matter how much time and effort you put into fixing up the basement, it will all be ruined by moisture.

it all starts with controlling water from the outside.
do you have rain gutters?

Yes

do they dump right at the bottom?
route that water far away from the foundation.

They route water about 100' away and downhill. No worries there.

do you water plants right around your foundation?
switch to plants that will handle less watering.
or add a sidewalk around the perimeter.

No plants. I have a 2' overhang on the sides, and 10' of covered porch front and rear. Under both porches is dry dusty dirt, to the point that it will blow around on a windy day.

does your neighbor's property act as a watershed and channel more water to your basement?

Dirt slopes away from the house very well, and I'm on top of a hill. Typically the dirt touching the foundation is dry unless it happens to rain sideways. All water runs away from the house for at least 15' then makes its way downhill. I dug small trenches with a shovel to channel water away, and give myself something to trip over while

don't forget some kind of dry-lock paint on the walls at least.

So yeah, that's what I have going for me.

Like I said earlier, at this point in time all of my moisture comes in the summer from condensation. I have only visually seen damp blocks a couple of times, and each time it was the ABOVE grade block on cold winter days while the basement was warm. Again, condensation. If the blocks are wet in that situation the windows are typically the same way. It's not very often that it happens though, usually when it's that cold outside the humidity is low inside from the woodburner drying the air out.



I'm listening for any and all advice still. There's been some good points made, and I appreciate that. My idea of a 'finished' basement is different than most, so research has been hard. Most people are going for 'pretty' or 'cute'. I just want it comfortable, and the girlfriend (fiancee) is on board. I want to be able to walk down to my basement, in the winter, with a shoe of some sort, and be able to sit on a chair and drink a few beers while playing with bikes. I have a Harbor Freight lift that's going in soon, a section of the basement is going to get used for winter tinkering. No welding, just stuff like re-greasing linkage or maybe motor re-builds if needed.
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Old 10-18-2013, 08:25 AM   #11
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My buddy had his basement 'waterproofed' by one of those basement companies, and they finished it with a plastic wallboard material instead of drywall. His issues were different than yours, but maybe if you proceeded with your plan and subbed the plastic panels for drywall, you'd be covered.

just a thought.
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Old 10-18-2013, 08:47 AM   #12
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I saw some expanded foam insulation with built in furring strips used on a "This Old House" basement remodel/upgrade last summer. I don't remember the name of the product but you might be able to find it on the This Old House site. Product was applied over bare wall surface with adhesive.
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:20 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by jules083 View Post
Ok, been doing some more research and I think a plan is starting to come together somewhat.

For the walls I'm sticking with my original plan. Glue sheets up, furring strips, drywall. I can do R-10 for about $1000, or R-15 for about $1500. Rough numbers, a few hundred either way isn't going to make much difference. I'm thinking though that R-10 should be plenty. Currently I just have bare block and it's actually quite warm in the winter because of the wood burner. Warmer basement=warmer house though, because my stairwell is completely open and heat rises. Also I have very limited ductwork and rely on natural air currents to warm most rooms. I've proven over the winters that without a warm basement it simply doesn't work, and part of the house is nearly always the exact same temp as the basement.

I'm thinking I should probably keep the wall a few inches off of the floor in case there is a leak, does that sound right? Maybe just lay a 2x4 out for a spacer then remove it when I'm done for an 1 1/2" gap. If and when I do the floor I can just tuck it under that gap and hit it with spray foam.

Last question here, should I paint the block with a water-resistant paint before gluing the sheets up? Part of me says that the paint will keep part of the moisture from soaking through. Another part says that after 5 years the paint will be bubbling and falling apart behind the wall, and will make the glue for the sheets ineffective. The furring strips will be helping hold the insulation anyways, so that might not matter.



On the floor, I'm likely going to get fancy and use paint. . I think that just doing the walls will give me a large portion of what I want to accomplish for now. Paint will be quicker and much cheaper. Next winter if I feel like I need to do something I can go back and do the floor. It might not be that bad though.



Remember the main goals are temperature control, comfort, reliability, and easy care. Aesthetics isn't a huge concern. My attitude is that if you don't like my basement, don't go in my basement. As far and me and my girlfriend, either one of us would be perfectly happy living in a warm and dry shack. Wouldn't bother me a bit.
Best advice for finishing a basement - http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/...-basement-wall. I'd just use a furring strip on the base if you want a spacer; you don't need 1 1/2" for emergency drainage.
In general - DO NOT use fiberglass insulation unless you are fond of mold; do not use "waterproof" paint on the block wall as it does nothing for moisture transfer; you can easily obtain the basement floor underlayment squares (OSB on top; plastic grid on bottom) for first layer, add insulation, add plywood for base, add whatever finished floor; DO air seal and insulate the rim joist above the block wall.
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:29 AM   #14
jules083 OP
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My buddy had his basement 'waterproofed' by one of those basement companies, and they finished it with a plastic wallboard material instead of drywall. His issues were different than yours, but maybe if you proceeded with your plan and subbed the plastic panels for drywall, you'd be covered.

just a thought.

You guys are over-reading my 'issues'. My only 'issue' is that the walls and floor are cold. Nothing else. Cold in the winter so it's hard to heat, and cold in the summer causing condensation.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DJacobsen5116 View Post
I saw some expanded foam insulation with built in furring strips used on a "This Old House" basement remodel/upgrade last summer. I don't remember the name of the product but you might be able to find it on the This Old House site. Product was applied over bare wall surface with adhesive.
That's exactly what I'm wanting to do. Same type of insulation even, except the stuff available local doesn't have built in furring strips. It's simple to add furring strips, I'm not even considering that an issue. Glue on the sheets, put 2 or 3 screws holding a furring strip through the sheet and into a block, screw drywall over that. Maybe even just paint the insulation sheets and stain the furring strips, then skip drywall completely. Maybe paint the insulation some off-white or tan of some sorts then stain the furring strips dark brown.
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:37 AM   #15
jules083 OP
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Originally Posted by zap2504 View Post
Best advice for finishing a basement - http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/...-basement-wall. I'd just use a furring strip on the base if you want a spacer; you don't need 1 1/2" for emergency drainage.
In general - DO NOT use fiberglass insulation unless you are fond of mold; do not use "waterproof" paint on the block wall as it does nothing for moisture transfer; you can easily obtain the basement floor underlayment squares (OSB on top; plastic grid on bottom) for first layer, add insulation, add plywood for base, add whatever finished floor; DO air seal and insulate the rim joist above the block wall.
Sweet. That's the link I first found that got my idea started. Didn't know how credible or reliable the source was, which is why I came here.


I found the underlayment squares you're talking about at lowe's the other day. Pricy though, I believe it was $6 for a 2x2 square. So what you're suggesting is, top to bottom:

Finished floor
Plywood
Insulation
Underlayment squares
Concrete

Look right? 2 issues I see for me will be cost and height added by the entry door. A work-around on both will be to put the floor on hold for this year, then when the time comes just use floor paint at the entry door with a small step-up for the rest of the basement. I'm OK with that. Cost will likely be up to $5 a square foot by the time it's all said and done, which seems high but if it's right I'm OK with that.
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