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The Basement Renovation

When I moved into my first humble abode, it boasted a finished basement. Well, “boasted” and “finished”  are stretching the truth.  Wood paneling, commercial floor tile and cheap fluorescent fixtures left a lot of room for improvement. . Over the course of a few years, I learned as much as I could about renovating a basement and challenged myself as a do-it-yourselfer.  The results of my process are presented here, with the hope that my experience may help you with your basement remodel.

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The start of something big….

The original finished basement and the furnace partition

The biggest obstacle was the placement of the furnace and hot water tank. They were located in the middle of the basement.  The previous owner had built an “L” shaped partition to hide the furnace, but it was located too close to the furnace for my comfort.

I originally planned to simply throw some carpeting down, and maybe paint the paneling to brighten things up a bit.  The previous owner had a pool table in the basement. I was single at the time, so I thought I would do the same thing. As I looked more closely, I also saw the potential of finishing off one corner and creating a computer room.  But when I tried to determine the placement of the partition wall I realized that I had other problems to deal with.

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Moisture Problems

Despite the fact that the home inspector did not report any sign of water damage, water damage clearly existed.  A stain on the wood paneling could have been the result of a leaking window, but further investigation revealed wide-spread moisture problems.

basement moisture damage
Moisture staining on the block foundation walls.

As I pulled one of the panels off the wall, the strapping came with it.  The strapping was rotting from excessive moisture.  I ended up gutting about three quarters of the basement, leaving only one paneled wall and a section of built-in closets and drawers in place. Between the strapping and the block foundation wall was roofing paper.  The wall behind the roofing paper was wet. There was significant staining from either the wet wood, or possibly mold or mildew.

Because there was no vapor barrier, the warm moist inside air was coming in contact with the cold exterior wall, despite the tar paper.  Once it condensed, the moisture could not easily evaporate,. Therefore the walls were pretty much in a state of permanent dampness.  The block had been coated with a paint-on moisture-proofing product, but it was no longer in very good shape.

Before applying a new product, I had to remove the old moisture proofing.  This took me about a week using a drill with a wire cup brush bit.   It was a messy job, and by the time I finished, an inch of dust covered the entire basement.  My drill also literally “bit the dust” during this process.

block foundation stripped
Walls stripped of old waterproofing.

Safety in Hindsight:  I wore a quality dust mask to protect myself from the airborne dust from the old waterproofing. However, prior to stripping the waterproofing, I should have washed the walls with a mixture of water, bleach, detergent and TSP to eradicate any mold spores and whatever else was there. Recommended amounts for this mixture: 1 gallon of water, any temperature, with 1/2 cup bleach, 1/4 cup of something like Tide powdered detergent and 1/2 cup of TSP (from Yahoo Answers)

Once the walls were clean, I was able to moisture-proof them with Xypex. This product bonds with the structure and crystallizes to fill the pores in the block. More information on basement waterproofing can be found elsewhere on this site.

After waterproofing the basement walls, I was ready to begin framing.


The Basement Renovation

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