Steps to Finishing a Basement
It is important to finish a basement in an order that makes sense. Installing insulation and framing the walls are important first steps to ensure that the space is comfortable and energy-efficient. By following the necessary steps for installing insulation and framing basement walls, homeowners can create a functional and inviting living area in their basement.
Step 1: Install Insulation
1. Measure the space from your floor to your ceiling, then subtract ¼ of inch. Cut your insulation with a utility knife to that length.
2. Hold your cut sheet against the wall to make sure it fits.
3. Apply adhesive to the back.
4. Press the insulation against the wall for the time recommended.
5. Repeat steps 1-4 until all the walls are covered
6. Fill the seams between the insulation boards, ceiling, floor, and corners with caulk.
Step 2: Frame the Walls
To begin framing a wall, start by marking a line on the floor parallel to the walls, four inches away from them, making sure to intersect any walls at a 90-degree angle. Next, measure your wall and cut two pieces of 2x4 lumber to that length, which will serve as the top and bottom plates of the wall. Repeat this process for each wall you will be framing.
Once you have your plates, mark them every 16 inches to indicate where the center of each stud will be placed. To make sure the marks are visible after the studs are placed, extend the lines to the sides of the plates. These marks will serve as a guide for the placement of the studs, ensuring that they are evenly spaced and aligned properly.
1. Lay your bottom plate to align with the line drawn
2. Secure the bottom plate using nails and a masonry drill
3. Install the top plate by following the same instructions for the bottom plate
4. Check that your plates are level
5. Measure the space between the plates
6. Cut your stud to the proper lengths
7. Install the studs by aligning them with the 16-inch marks. Insert nails on each side of the stud at a 45-degree angle
8. Repeat until walls have been framed
Step 3: Install Any Utilities
To finish a basement, it's important to consider the installation of utilities such as electrical wiring, plumbing, and air ductwork that will be in the new walls. This highly regulated work has to be done by a professional to ensure safety and proper functioning.
Step 4: Mount Drywall
1. Decide whether to hang the drywall horizontally or vertically
2. Measure and cut sections of drywall to end on a stud.
3. Mark and remove any sections of drywall where utilities need to be exposed, such as for an outlet or plumbing.
4. Secure the drywall to the stud using drywall screws.
5. Fill in seams and hide screw heads with drywall mud.
6. Lay drywall tape over seams to ensure a smooth finish.
Step 5: Paint the Walls
1. Choosing a paint color that fits your basement design–brighter colors will open up your space, while darker colors will create a more cozy atmosphere.
2. Sandpaper the new walls to fix any bumps in the drywall
3. Apply paint primer to the walls and let it dry
4. Apply 1-2 coats of paint, letting the previous coat dry before adding a new one.
Step 6: Finish the Basement Ceiling
There are three common ways people finish their ceilings–building a drop-ceiling, using drywall, or leaving it open.
Option 1–Drop ceiling installation:
Drop ceilings are preferred because they allow you to easily access utilities, as the ceiling acts as a second ceiling that hangs below the structural basement ceiling. Drop ceilings can be installed using an installation kit.
1. Buy an installation kit of your choosing
2. Install L-channel frames on the walls
3. Install T-channel frames along floor joists, connecting to the L-channel frames
4. Snap the T-channel cross frames into place between the full T-channels
5. Place tiles in the frame
Option 2–Drywalled ceiling:
Drywall is another popular ceiling option that is very similar to installing dry-walled walls.
1. Make holes in the drywall sheets for any utilities such as light fixtures or plumbing
2. Start in a corner and apply adhesive to the joists to hang the drywall
3. Press the drywall sheets to the adhesive
4. Attach drywall with nails or screws to the joists in 7-inch increments.
5. Repeat until the entire ceiling is covered with drywall
6. Use drywall mud to fill in gaps and seams
7. Apply drywall paint to the seams
8. Paint once the mud has finished drying
Option 3–Open ceiling:
The simplest and most budget-friendly ceiling style is the open ceiling because you don't have to do much if anything to it. If you do not like the way the utilities or wood beams look exposed, you can paint them.
Step 7: Finishing the Basement Floor
The last step to complete after finishing your basement walls and ceiling is to finish the flooring, which is a pretty easy DIY project. Although this step is easier than some of the others, installing flooring is typically the most expensive part of finishing a basement. It can run between $1,500 and $4,500 on average, with the cost of 500 square feet of flooring typically running $3,000. There are a few ways to finish the flooring, from painting it to installing laminate or carpeting.
Option 1–Paint the concrete floor:
1. Clean the floor of debris from the other projects
2. Prep the floor with a paint primer
3. Choose a paint for concrete and paint 2 layers over the entire floor
4. Seal the flooring with a concrete sealer
Option 2–Install laminate flooring or carpet:
1. Install subflooring
a. Fill dips with self-leveling underlayment until the floor is even
b. Use adhesive to attach polystyrene insulation to the cement
c. Lay plywood on top of the insulation and install it with concrete screws.
2. Follow the installation instructions on the laminate flooring, carpeting, or tile packaging.