Pros and Cons of Using Drywall in Your Basement Renovation

Finishing the walls is one the key elements in your basement renovation project. Although you might assume this is a straightforward step, there are a few different options to choose from. Many basement contractors use drywall to finish the walls and ceiling, providing an economical and attractive solution. Other companies promote the use of fiberglass basement wall panels, creating a moisture and mold resistant atmosphere that is healthy and durable for years to come.

Which option is best for your home? And why would you shift from using drywall, a product found in almost every other room in your home? Take a closer look at each of the products to make a more informed decision about your own basement renovation.

Pros for Using Drywall in the Basement

Basement renovations that include drywall tend to cost less overall. Combine the cost of drywall installation, mudding and sanding and you're still below the total price of installing basement wall systems. When you add the cost of priming and painting the drywall, prices come a little closer. But in the end, drywall installation tends to be less expensive. Since more contractors install drywall, and it's possible to DIY at least part of the process, homeowners have more options and better cost controls with this building material.

Drywall provides greater flexibility in terms of design. This building product can be used on ceilings, walls and within archways. Finish a bulkhead in drywall and you'll end up with a clean, smooth appearance. Rounded corners are possible, and strange shapes can be boxed in easily by cutting drywall to fit and mudding the gaps.

Paint and wallpaper can be used with drywall, whereas fabricated wall panels come prefinished and most often cannot be changed to suit your dècor. Redecorating is simple with drywall, and repainting or replacing wallpaper allows you to easily freshen up the space as your family grows. Drywall may also be more attractive in terms of resale value, since new owners can redecorate to suit their own tastes, instead of being stuck with the look and feel of prefinished walls.

Drywall is easily repaired, and often homeowners can patch holes on their own with a small supply of building materials. Scratches and marks can be filled with drywall mud or specialty filler products and painted over for a beautiful finish. Only certified contractors are authorized to use basement wall finishing systems, and homeowners often have limited access to the materials needed for repairs on this type of system.

Pros for Using Fiberglass Panels

Many homeowners investigate the possibility of using fiberglass wall panels in place of drywall. This product provides a moisture-resistant finish that will not rot, grow mold or affect allergies within your family. Some products provide a metallic film on the outer face of the panels, while others may have vinyl coatings or other methods to deter water damage.

Fiberglass wall panels tend to be more durable against light wear. You won't need to replace or repair panels when the wall is bumped or scratched. If serious damage does occur, the panels are completely removable and can be replaced quickly and efficiently.

In fact, some contractors claim that fiberglass wall panels take less time to install initially. While applying drywall mud and sanding each layer takes time, the process of hanging basement wall panels moves forward quickly. Average-sized basements can be completed in just two weeks using the latest systems.

Decisions, Decisions

Consider all of the factors before making a decision about your basement walls. Do you want the walls to have a certain color or texture? Make sure you're happy with the look and feel of fiberglass wall panels before installing them. And if you have an extensive art collection or want to hang a flatscreen TV on the wall, be sure the fiberglass system can support that weight over the long-term.

Basement finishing systems require trim, most often metal or plastic and finished in a tone that matches your wall panels. When your basement design includes archways, corners and complicated lines, more trim will be needed to cover gaps and keep the panels in place. By using drywall and drywall mud, these areas will be uniform and finished smoothly. Most homeowners want that seamless look, and are disappointed to see the excess trim required in corners, on archways and around bulkheads.

Other Elements of Your Basement Renovation

Electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems are often hidden behind the basement walls and above the ceiling. You'll need a certain amount of access to the wiring, ductwork and pipes, but hatches or hidden doors in sensitive areas are often adequate for regular maintenance.

Insulation makes the basement more comfortable in terms of temperature. Fiberglass blanket insulation is most often used behind drywall, while wall panels are often manufactured with a layer of insulation. This provides an effective barrier against sound and heat loss, creating a warm, private space downstairs.

Your flooring will be installed up against the walls no matter what type of wall finishing is used. Be sure a proper underlayment is installed to protect your carpet or engineered wood flooring from moisture. Concrete foundations naturally breathe, allowing water to seep into your home. A layer of plastic film is most often used to block this moisture, but other products like closed cell underlayment provide superior protection. When combined with a vapor barrier against the outside foundation walls, your basement should stay warm and dry for years.

Your basement renovation requires extensive planning and the help of a qualified contractor. Consider whether fiberglass wall panels fit your lifestyle and budget, and search for local contractors that deal with top quality product lines. If drywall better suits your project requirements, think about what parts of the project you can DIY and hire a contractor to complete the balance. Both options result in an attractive area that improves the value of your home and provides more space for the whole family.

Posted by: diana
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