Top Five Common Challenges When Finishing the Basement

Finishing the basement provides extra living space without the hassle of exterior renovations. But if you are starting from scratch or gutting an old finished basement there's bound to be a few challenges. Take a look at these top five challenging situations homeowners commonly face when tackling a basement renovation, and then get ready to dive into this valuable and exciting project.

How To Finish Exterior Concrete Walls and Avoid Moisture Problems

Install rigid foam insulation directly against the foundation walls to help create the warmth and dryness you want in a finished basement. This product should be pink, blue or yellow and your contractor will use adhesive to firmly attach the product. Although it may be more economical, avoid using expanded foam products that look like white compressed foam beams - they have a lower insulation value and are less durable. Don't forget to have your contractor mount rigid foam insulation between the main floor beams and caulk all seams to create an airtight fit.

Wood or steel studs will form the wall frame on the inside of that insulation in the proper spacing as per local building codes. With fiberglass insulation and a heavy plastic vapor barrier to finish it off, this framing should protect the interior living space from moisture.

How To Deal With Posts and Intrusive Heating Ducts

You're better to frame around heating ducts wherever possible. Although this approach may reduce the overall space in your room, smoothly finished corners and bulkheads provide a cleaner appearance. Plan to paint these areas into the ceiling (in white or off-white) or into the wall in order to minimize the intrusion.

Posts need to be handled differently, depending on the location and design of the room. If the posts support main beams you may need to leave them in, unless you can have a structural support beam installed. Those products tend to work well across shorter spans, but posts are dependable over long stretches.

Consider incorporating posts into the overall design. Clad them in wood that matches built in bookshelves or install fiberglass columns that mimic classical styles. Paint posts in striking patterns or help them blend in by finishing them in tones that match the wall color.

It's mainly about ensuring the overall design is attractive and open. Achieve that with color and imagination-just don't let those posts or heating ducts stand out as an eye sore and your basement will be more appealing.

How To Finish the Ceiling Without Blocking Access

Many homeowners prefer drywall ceilings, creating a solid surface that can be finished in traditional and durable products. Drywall is also more affordable than other ceiling options when finishing the basement, but this method will cover all of the mechanical and electrical elements currently found in between the main floor joists.

Consider whether it would be more beneficial to install a drop ceiling, at least in critical areas. This style of ceiling uses fiberglass ceiling tiles hung on metal rail grids to finish the ceiling, offering greater flexibility when you need to access phone lines, wiring, ductwork and any other components that generally run through that area.

Drop ceilings compliment drywall ceilings very well and can work within bedrooms, bathrooms and living spaces. Think about the other areas of the basement where drywall will work, and mix and match your ceiling design to allow for maximum benefits.

How To Install a Comfortable, Durable Floor on Concrete

One of the easiest ways to install flooring in the basement is on top of a plywood subfloor. This method provides the warmth and stability you need, as well as allowing the flooring installer to correct for any leveling issues.

If you don't have the space for a plywood subfloor take a look at the options for moisture proof underpadding specially formulated for finished basement applications. These designs add bounce and comfort to engineered hardwood and carpet.

Tiling can be installed right onto the level concrete floor for impressive moisture resistance in the bathroom. Avoid using solid hardwood below grade, as the natural properties of the wood do not hold up well in these locations.

How To Create a Bright Space Without the Help of Natural Light

Wall color and lighting play the biggest role in creating bright space, even without the help of windows and natural light. Paint all of the walls in one color, preferably something light and neutral. Yellow, beige, white and cream work, as do pastel blues, greens and pinks as long as the color isn't too striking or distracting.

Texture can work against you as well, so plan to create smooth walls that reflect all light well. Consider semi-gloss paint, a finish that offers a tinge of shine in any light and helps to push back the walls noticeably. Stay away from bumpy or patterned wallpaper or wall coverings that absorb light.

Use well placed and properly sized lighting to brighten up every corner. Pot lighting works well in the ceiling and can be spaced out to cover a large area. Wall sconces installed in the stairway and in halls will add visual interest and much needed illumination. Be sure the general contractor installs switches at either end of a long room to allow for safe passage through this area. Three-way switches at the top and bottom of the stairs are a must.

You're bound to face challenges and difficult decisions when finishing the basement. But with the expert advice of a contractor and plenty of time to make the best decisions your basement renovation will include everything you need to be comfortable. Install framing, insulation and subfloors to avoid moisture, and be sure to paint your rooms in bright colors with plenty of lighting. Posts and heating ducts will need to be built in the room, although in certain cases a structural beam will help out. Discuss these challenges with your basement remodeling contractor and come up with practical solutions tailor-made for your family.

Posted by: diana
Great renovations start with a great contractor.

Since 2004, TrustedPros has been helping homeowners find the right contractor for their home improvements and repairs.

Post Your Project

Within hours you'll be comparing offers from top-rated professionals. It's free to post and you're under no obligation to hire.

Search the TrustedPros directory and discover the best contractors in your area. Read real customer reviews, browse photos and compare credentials.

Find your home service pro
comments powered by Disqus

Trustedpros Inc. does not warrant the accuracy, completeness, safety, legality or usefulness of any Content, or Whether Content is Current and up-to-date, and TrustedPros Inc. Shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to your use or reliance upon any content or for content being removed or otherwise ceasing to be available. Please refer to the terms and conditions of use of this websites for more details.

Get Free Estimates

Post your project and compare offers from top-rated pros.