Advice on Finishing a Basement
LESLIE: Jeff’s on the line from Montclair, New Jersey. Wants to talk about finishing a basement. How can we help?
JEFF: Well, my wife and I bought a home about a year ago with an unfinished basement. And right now it’s used primarily for storage. It’s pretty dusty. We would like to seal the floor so we can use it for something other than storage. We’d like to have a place for our daughter to play and maybe someplace for us to exercise.
LESLIE: Are you seeing a lot of water down there? What makes you feel like it’s not sealed and it’s wet and gross?
JEFF: Well it’s not particularly wet. It’s just very dusty down there. The entire basement is unfinished. There’s insulation in the walls and an unfinished ceiling over our heads, where you can see the rafters. It’s just very dusty and …
TOM: So you just want a way to seal the basement floor and create a finished space.
JEFF: Exactly. And I’ve already bought paint but I don’t know if I need to prime or etch or – I just didn’t know what to do.
TOM: Well, do you want to have a carpeted surface down there or do you want to have a hard surface?
JEFF: I think a hard surface at this point.
TOM: Yeah good because carpeted surfaces can really be places for mold to grow in a place like that.
LESLIE: I know. (chuckling)
TOM: (chuckling) What’s that?
LESLIE: I had an incident with carpeting in the basement …
TOM: Yes, yes.
LESLIE: … Jeff and it’s not a good idea.
TOM: Not pretty. Yeah. A couple of things. First of all, in terms of sealing it, you can do – probably an epoxy paint is the least expensive and most effective way to do that. Two part paint. Mix the two parts together. You roll it out. You use – they usually have like some sort of color chips or something like that that you sprinkle in it. Gives it a bit of texture; sort of hides the dirt. That’s perfect for a workout room.
If you want something a little more finished, you could consider either a laminate floor …
LESLIE: Even a sheet vinyl.
TOM: Yeah or – well, sheet vinyl. But as far as laminate, same kind of laminate that countertops are made out of but like about 20 to 30 times tougher.
Or you could also consider, if you want something super nice, an engineered hardwood floor. Now you can’t use solid hardwood in a basement but you can use engineered hardwood, which is sort of like fancy plywood. It’s different layers that …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They’re made to be structurally stable for a moist environment …
LESLIE: … like a basement and directly on the subfloor. But a laminate flooring is a beautiful option because you can go with a variety of looks and a variety of price points. You know, you can go on the lower end of the spectrum or way up there high, depending on what your budget is. But you can have a beautiful wood-look floor. In the end, that’s what we ended up doing in our basement and it’s gorgeous.
JEFF: Yeah my – I guess my only thought is the laminate tends to be much more pricey than just a simple paint coat.
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely.
TOM: Well, it certainly will be. Yeah. Mm-hmm.
JEFF: If we did low end, maybe just cleaning it off thoroughly and then painting it and then touching it up if it chips, I suppose.
TOM: Yeah, low end I would recommend an epoxy paint. QUIKRETE has one. Rust-Oleum makes one. They’re all good. They’re two-part mixes. You mix them together and they work well.
LESLIE: Those – if you were to go with an epoxy coating kit, it comes with everything in it. It comes with a cleaner; it comes with a primer; it comes with the paint and it comes with the topcoat. It’s all together in a box.
As for your ceiling, if you’re looking to finish up the ceiling, you can easily install a drop ceiling and those grids are quite simple to install with a laser level. All you need to do is follow a straight line and then you just drop everything in.
TOM: Alright, Jeff. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.