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.

The start of something big….

old basement

The original finished basement.

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.

My original plan was 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, and, being single at the time, I figured that I would put the space to the same use.  As I looked more closely, I also saw the potential of finishing off one corner and creating a computer room.  It was when I tried to determine the placement of the partition wall that I realized that I had other problems to deal with.

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.

damp basement walls

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 partially rotted 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 and had significant mold or mildew.

Because there was no vapor barrier, the warm moist inside air was coming in contact with the cold exterior wall.  Even though the block was covered with tar paper, the seams weren’t sealed and air could get between the paper and the block.  Once it condensed, the moisture could not easily evaporate, and 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 a new product could be applied, the old moisture proofing had to be removed.  This took me about a week using a drill with a Wire Cup Brush (surprisingly, I only needed one).   It was a messy job, and by the time I was finished, there was an inch of dust over the entire basement.  My drill also literally “bit the dust” during this process.

Safety in Hindsight:  I made sure 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. 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)

 

bare walls

Walls stripped of old waterproofing.

Once the walls were clean, I was able to moisture-proof them with a product called Xypex, which 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


Hiding Stuff
Accommodating a Window
Installing Doors
The Stairway Transition
Finishing under the Stairs
The Laundry Room
The Pantry
A Diary of the “Home Stretch”
The Finished Product

 

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