Well constructed basements offer many attributions that make them ideal for every day use such as privacy, quietness, and coolness. Of course, hiding the water heater, plumbing, and a/c equipment in the basement has its own advantages; the biggest advantage is being able to finish the basement into a whole new room instead of building a room addition. In fact, finishing your basement is less than half the cost of a building addition which is why finishing basements has become so popular today.
There are two different approaches to finishing your basement walls; basement finishing systems and dry walling/traditional construction. Over the years the dry wall approach has diminished in popularity due to its porous and mold friendly nature.
The fastest growing and most popular method of finishing basement walls are “wall finishing systems.” Most systems use fiberglass panels and trim pieces that snap into PVC structural framing. Some wall panels are finished in fabric, eliminating the need for drywall taping or painting. Finishing systems can be up to 30 percent more expensive than conventional drywall construction but has a longer life span and easily tolerates the damp conditions found in basements. Any parts of the system that become wet or damaged can be removed. Access to your a/c unit or water heater is as easy as removing one panel. And, unlike drywall, most wall finishing systems are fireproof. The only drawback to some basement finishing systems is batten strips - the over-all look is a little modular. Your contractor will help you determine which system is best for your lifestyle and pocket book. Learn more about basement finishing systems.
The traditional method, using drywall or sheetrock, has a nice appearance and maintains the integrity of all the rooms upstairs however; the environment of a basement is not as conducive to traditional construction as panel systems. Precaution should be taken to ensure more-than adequate insulation is added.
Before you decide on your walls, be it drywall or finishing systems, consider how the space will be used. The lack of light is helpful if you’re setting up a dark room or home theater. Isolation helps keep out sound for a play area or a musical instrument. Or, perhaps you’re adding a guest bedroom. When you consider how the room will be used it will make it easier to decide which method to use on your walls.
Before you begin you’ll need to check for moisture. Are the walls damp? Does your basement smell musty? Are there mushrooms growing anywhere? Most basements suffer from moisture problems on some level. Don’t cut any corners when it comes to attaining a dry basement or your efforts to finish your basement will be wasted. This is the first and most crucial step to a beautiful new room. Make sure you hire a licensed contractor to rid your basement of water seepage – this will be money well spent and will prevent future problems. Click here for information on waterproofing your basement.
Dept. of Energy technology fact sheet – basement insulation:
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