Tips for Finishing Your Basement
LESLIE: Gary in New Hampshire is remodeling his basement. What’s going on in the project?GARY: You guys have a great show. I listen to it all the time.TOM: Thanks, Gary.GARY: I’m remodeling the basement and I’d like to, you know, put up studs. And I’m not sure if I should use a concrete sealer and/or use a poly – you know, like plastic poly-vinyl to put up against the wall before I put the studs up.TOM: Alright, a couple of things. First of all, do you have any basement moisture problems or humidity problems?GARY: No.TOM: Alright. Well, what I would do is I would, first of all, make sure we look outside the house that this not going to become a problem; that we have gutters and downspouts that are present, that are extended out away from the foundation; then soil, also, that slopes away from the wall. I want you to do the basics because I don’t want this to be a problem later.Secondly, what I would do is I would use a foundation wall paint and I would paint the walls because this will stop some of the evaporation of moisture through the walls. It’s not going to stop a lot of water that wants to get through if you had a gutter that got overflowing or something like that, but the foundation wall paint will stop the normal soil moisture that will come through.Next, I would make sure that I install the studs. If you’re going to use wood studs or metal, I would keep them, you know, a few inches away from the wall; maybe six inches away from the wall. I wouldn’t go directly against the wall.LESLIE: Because you need ventilation behind it.TOM: Well, I don’t want – you certainly don’t want it to be attached to the wall because that’s mold food; especially if it’s wood. But I think a little bit of space is good for ventilation and, in fact, a little trick of the trade is you can take like a heating return register – which is basically just sort of a grate with slots in it – and put two low and two high on each wall so you get air that goes behind and sort of circulates and comes out the other register.LESLIE: Do you want the low and high above each other to create that convective loop or stagger or …?TOM: Yeah. Yeah, I would put them right above and below each other so that you get some air flow behind it. And that’s how I would do it.LESLIE: And you know what else, Gary? You can use a drywall product that’s made specifically for basements or moisture areas. Georgia-Pacific has one called Dens Armor which is fiberglass-faced instead of paper-faced; so that then eliminates another source of mold food by getting rid of the paper. Finishes the same way, costs a little bit more but I mean it’s ideal for the space.TOM: Now, if you don’t want to go through all of that trouble, you know there are some basement finishing systems out there that are kind of like lock-together systems. But they are pretty pricey. But they go up in like a day.