Taking steps to finish your basement into a living space requires consideration of your home and the space you’re converting. This includes making decisions based on what you want the space to be: an apartment, in-law quarters, entertainment, etc. The materials you buy will be based on what you are planning to convert to. For example, if you are converting your basement into a play area, it would be a better to choose flooring that’s softer, like carpet. Before you start finishing, you’ll want to check for things like moisture issues, foundation issues, radon levels, etc.
Regrade the ground around your home away from the foundation and have downspouts carry water away. Waterproofing the walls will also help keep moisture out. Having good ventilation, not opening windows on humid days, and installing subfloor paneling will reduce moisture even more. Don’t forget to test for Radon levels because Radon can cause lung cancer. You can test radon levels by yourself or by having a home inspector do it. In the end, taking these precautions and steps are worth it because finished basements have good return in investment. Typically, you can expect a return of about seventy-five cents per dollar, as well as increased functionality.
Ceiling and Insulation
Now that you’ve handled any moisture problems, radon levels, and anything else, it’s time to consider insulation. Most homes don’t have a big enough heating and cooling system to be able to properly heat and cool your newly finished basement, so make sure you have it checked to see if it’ll suffice or not. Of course, it would be useless to have the right heating and cooling unit if you haven’t also properly insulated your basement. To have the best heat and cooling efficiency control you should invest in R21 insulation. Fortunately, the ground around your home will help in heating and cooling along with the R21.
If you are also concerned about soundproofing because you are converting to in-law quarters, an apartment, or home movie theater, you should insulate the ceiling as well. The best materials for soundproofing are drywall, ceiling tiles, vinyl sheeting, fiberboard, and soundproofing tiles. These materials are more effective at soundproofing than fiberglass insulation. Now that you’re prepared, you can start the process of converting your basement.
Since you’re taking the time and money to finish your basement, you probably don’t want it to look like a basement. This may be especially true if you are making it into in-law quarters or another living space. Consider other options besides your typical tile drop ceiling since this ceiling material will make your basement look like, well, a basement. When one thinks of a basement, they don’t think of a space that’s warm a cozy. Instead, basements bring to mind a space that is cold, dark, damp, and overall unwelcoming. By taking these first steps to make the basement warmer, drier, and have a nice ceiling, it’s time to handle lighting.
Lighting is a big part of making your basement into a welcoming living space. Natural lighting is the preferred option, but most basements don’t have many options for natural light to get in. Whenever possible, have as large of a window installed so as to let as much light in as you can. If you can, add french doors. This will add a ton a light as well as an escape route in case of an emergency. If you can’t install a french door, make sure that one of your windows is an egress window, which also provides an escape route. If there isn’t opportunity for a lot of natural light in your basement, then make sure that you install plenty of other lighting. Recess lighting will help the most in making sure that the basement is nice and bright while also reducing shadows. Also, you can add floor lamps, wall lighting, etc to have some ambient lighting.
Good Flooring Options
The best flooring for basements that are moist tend to be epoxy sealed concrete and tile. Although these tend to be quite cold, they’re highly durable, low maintenance, and are affected very little or not at all by water damage. If you are concerned over this type of flooring being so cold, you can install in-floor radiant heat. If you are leaning more towards a cost-effective option, epoxy sealed concrete is the best option. For a bucket of epoxy which covers about 100 sq feet, you’ll spend around thirty dollars. As well, if you decide to change the flooring at a later time, it can go right over top the concrete, rather than having to uninstall the previous flooring. If you choose to go with a ceramic tile, there are many options to choose from, including wood-looking tile. The only maintenance you might have to do for your tile is clean the grout when it gets moldy.
Other flooring such as floating floors, vinyl, and laminate are also fairly resistant to water, especially when installed along side of a moisture barrier. Floating floors rest on top of the subfloor, this leaves the option to put a moisture barrier underneath to increase water resistance. There are also waterproof flooring options, unfortunately available options are limited and hard to get in the United States. Another cheap, resilient flooring option is vinyl, and it’s warmer than both tile and concrete. Much like Floating floors, laminate flooring has waterproof options, but it does require a sub-floor.
Poor Flooring Options
Hardwood, engineered hardwood, and carpeting tend to be terrible flooring options for a basement, unless you have little to no moisture issues. Moisture is such an issue for hardwood because it will cause warping and for the wood to even rot. So unless your basement is has little to no issue with moisture, you won’t want to invest in hardwood flooring because of this risk. Engineered wood is another wood flooring option. The nice part about engineered wood is that it is dimensionally stable and therefore less susceptible to moisture. As well, this flooring requires a subfloor, so you can even increase its moisture resistance by putting in water-resistant/waterproof subflooring system. But that doesn’t mean that engineered wood will be the best option for a basement. Unfortunately, engineered wood is also one of the most expensive flooring options out there. If you really want to have hardwood flooring, recognize the risks that you will be taking.
Carpet is also difficult flooring to put into a basement. You will be stuck replacing all the flooring, not just the damaged area if your basement floods or has a significant amount of moisture; you can reduce moisture concerns by putting in a subfloor. If you still want a warmer flooring option, but are concerned about replacing damaged flooring, you can even try carpet squares or floor tiles with vapor barriers. Both flooring types can be replaced selectively when a certain area gets damaged. Also, both come in many stylish options, so you’re sure to find something that you’ll love. Options for floor tiles range from carpeting to a stone-look.
Besides the building materials that you put into your basement, there are other decisions to make stylistically that will help make your basement the perfect space for you. Widen the stairway and install a banister. You can even take out the wall of the stairs to make the space look larger. Think about widening all doorways; most basement doorways are smaller than the rest of the house. So make them larger or even install interior french doors. This will make it seem like the upstairs and open up the space further. Also, make use of arches and columns to add elegance and interest to your basement. After making design choices regarding the layout of your basement, you’ll need to choose paint, furniture, and anything else you’d like to have in your basement.
Paint is a very important tool for making your basement as warm and welcoming as possible. Choose light-colored paint, this will make sure it stays open and bright. When furnishing your basement, don’t think of the space as just a basement. Think of it as just another space in your home. Choose nice furniture you would put in a room in the upstairs of your home, this will add to the welcoming atmosphere. Finally, go ahead and install all the art prints, pictures, and decorations to put in the finishing touches and make your basement come to life.
If you take into mind all these precautions and tips, the basement of your dreams can become a reality. In the end, you will have a space can be beautiful and that adds functionality to your home. So take the time to plan out your basement finishing project. If you live in the Lancaster County, PA area, give us a call or fill out the form on the contact page of our website. Shakespeare Home Improvement Co. is one of the top home remodeling companies in the region with an aim to make your dreams a reality for years to come.