Basement Remedies: Make a Basement into a Livable Space

November 12, 2021
comfortable basement bedroom with green light

Your house is one of the biggest investments that you can make. If you’re looking at the bigger picture, chances are your house is by far the most valuable asset that you have. You may not realize this now, but as years go on and life changes, you’ll look back and see how true it really is.

So if something goes wrong with your house or even a part of it, what will you do about it? Tear the whole thing down and start all over again? Most people don’t have that kind of money to spend, so they find themselves in situations where they need to make good use out of their littler spaces. One example would be: making a basement into a livable space.

This is easier to do than you might think, and it can be an inexpensive option if your house already has some things you’ll need such as windows or a bathroom.

Determine if your basement is dry

If it’s not, you’ll want to take care of that before anything else; otherwise, you could end up with major water damage once finished with renovations.

To test for moisture, feel the walls (especially above ground level), check for mold or mildew, and try lighting matches in various places around the room. If any of these activities produce either smoke or put off an unpleasant odor, it means there’s too much moisture in the space and will have to be dealt with before doing anything else to the area.

If the basement has a low water table, you may have to rely on a sump pump. An electronic drain pump is like a toilet’s flapper valve, but it only works one way to release excess moisture from your basement. Not only will this pump out all this extra water save your foundation from damage due to saturation, but it’ll also keep everything from getting moldy and smelly as well.

Fix the Floors

With any luck, your space will be dry enough by now that you can start turning it into a livable area. Most people worry about safety; they’re afraid the floor might collapse if too much weight is put on it or something falls through cracks in the flooring. There are some things you can do about this.

Install a heavy-duty subfloor. This is essentially the floor of your new room, and it’ll help support everything that’s about to go on top of it. Most basements are made out of concrete, with wooden beams running through them for support. If you have the chance, make sure there are plenty of wood beams in place already; if not, you can always run some extra ones across the ceiling for added support where necessary.

As long as you make sure they’re secured firmly into place, it should work just fine (and even more so if your home was originally built with beams in place or if you already have a heavy-duty subfloor).

Work on the Partitions

Once the floor is set, it’s time to start working on partitions. This can be done in several ways, depending on what you’re comfortable with. The most common way is by using drywall sheets and screwing them directly into the wood beams in the ceiling or floor.

There are other alternatives for this step, but they mostly rely on alternative methods of installation (i.e., not screwing directly into the wood). One example would be a mortar mix that holds bricks together without needing screws or nails. If you opt for mortar mix, you’ll want to use wire mesh to reinforce the bricks and add support.

Make sure you use mortar mix for this step, as other materials will erode when you need to seal the room—decide for yourself what type of material will best suit your needs and which installation method will be easiest for you.

Start with the Walls and Ceiling

Once partitions are in place and the floor is solid enough, it’s time to start making walls and a ceiling. Using either drywall sheets or bricks, create walls that are taller than the partition walls. This way, you’ll be able to attach your ceiling to them and include windows later on.

Make sure you use materials like mortar mix for this step; if it’s not set well enough, you might end up with cracks in your ceiling when trying to install other things like windows and insulation.

Start working on your ceiling with whatever material feels best for you or that’s recommended by whoever sold it to you. The most typical ceiling material used for basements is pressed wood fiber, but if that’s not your style, feel free to use something else. Just be sure you do it right; otherwise, moisture could end up trapped inside your ceiling and cause damage when you least expect it.

Add a Heating System

spraying foam insulation

You should always have a heating system in your basement. If you’re going to use a furnace, then you’ll need to know how to install one before actually buying and installing it. This is because if something goes wrong with the installation process, you could end up being electrocuted or having a gas leak that can harm you or anyone else nearby if not handled carefully.

But if there are professional technicians, specifically an HVAC contractor around that has experience installing furnaces in basements, then it may be best to let them handle it. They know what they’re doing when it comes to things like this, so if you want the job done right, you should probably hand it over to them (your safety is worth more than a few dollars here).

Add Furniture

Once the hard part’s over, it’s time to make it look like you want. Whether your needs are minimal or excessive, there are many ways to make this space livable with whatever you have available.

If your home is small, your room is most likely too; but don’t worry about it because there are still things you can do to turn this into an actual living space. For example, you can use additional furniture (both temporary and permanent) to fill the room and create cozy nooks in which you can spend time at.

If your home is large, then this will be much easier because there won’t be a need for excessive additions to compensate for lack of space; instead, you can add multiple livable features to make it feel like a full-fledged room rather than just a part of an unfinished basement.

Whether your needs are great or minimal, if your overall goal is to turn this into an actual living space regardless of its purpose, then these steps should help point you in the right direction.

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