Things to Consider When Refinishing Your Basement

Thursday, January 17, 2013 11:22:00 AM Categories: Basement Remodeling Home Improvement Tips Home Renovation

Finished basement using SoftWall Finishing SystemsThere are a few important things to consider before investing in a basement refinishing project.  What type of lighting should be used? Is a permit required? Is water an issue? Planning before refinishing is a great way to avoid these common pitfalls. Doing it right the first time is the easiest way to save time and money.

With that being said, here are a few pointers to help you along.

NEVER Start Until You Know It's Dry

Water will wreak havoc if you let it, and where there's moisture, mold isn't far behind. Basement mold spores can develop within 48-72 hours, so check thoroughly and make sure there aren’t water issues on the exterior or interior surfaces. Look for water marks on the walls, and when outside, make sure your house isn't sitting in water. Water should be draining away from your home.

Code Happy

This one should be a no-brainer, but it’s sometimes overlooked. Do you need a permit to finish your basement? More than likely the answer is "yes". Is your electrical up to code? Are there special insulation requirements for your location? What inspections do you need to have along the way? Answering these questions beforehand will make the process a whole lot easier. If you are not familiar with the building codes in your area, you may want to consider calling a professional with the required knowledge.


In light-frame construction, furring strips are long, thin strips of wood or metal used to make backing surfaces to support the finished surfaces in a room. When furring your refinished basement, it's critical you have at least a half-inch distance between your inside wall and the moisture on the outside of the wall.

The Goal Is Heat In and Vapor Out!

Polyurethane is great for sending moisture packing, and insulation encased in vapor barrier is best. 

Recess Lighting

Hanging light fixtures are a headache waiting to happen in a basement. Recess lighting is great for basements as they typically have more natural light restrictions.

Baseboard Heating

Your basement is typically the coolest and dampest area in your house. Baseboard heaters allow you to keep the room at a constant temperature, which helps to keep it comfortable and protect against moisture issues.

Build Up Basement Floor

I'm sure you've stepped onto a basement floor before and hopped right back on the stairs because you nearly froze your foot! Well you don't have to suffer through that with your basement project because you can build up your basement floor so that you aren't always stepping onto the frozen ground by:

Vapor barrier applied to basement floor

  • Laying a vapor barrier down for protection between the wood/cement
  • Lay 2x4s and frame - then lay strip and put insulation board between 2x4s
  • Finally top it off with 3.4" plywood


And voila! - No more torturously freezing floor!

Taking these few pointers into consideration before refinishing your basement is a surefire way to save time and money throughout the course of the project. Besides, if you're going to do something, you might as well do it right, right?