Finishing your basement can be a lot of fun. It can also be a lot of work, especially in the first few stages.
You’ll need to make sure everything is up to code first and that everything behind the walls and underneath the floors is properly installed.
Once you’ve gotten that out of the way, you can move on to making your basement another regularly used part of your home. Here are six things you’ll need to take care of before adding those finishing touches.
Take Care of These Items Before Finishing Your Basement
#1. Properly Seal Your Basement
Before finishing your basement, you’ll need to seal and waterproof it. There’s no sense in finishing a basement only for it to be flooded and ruined down the line.
Make sure you fill cracks with hydraulic cement, address window leaks, and apply waterproofing sealant. If your walls are already painted, you’ll need to remove the paint before you can apply the waterproofing sealant.
As you remove the paint, you’ll be able to find more cracks in the walls to fill with hydraulic cement. Once your basement is sealed, you should take steps to keep water away from your house as well.
Also, make sure your walls are properly insulated. You’ll save money on your heating bills and cut down on internal condensation. Be sure to close any gaps between the ceiling of the basement and the floor of the house with flame-resistant caulk as well.
If you want to skip this step, you can work with a professional basement contractor who will take care of these steps for you. They will also be able to diagnose any other issues you might have and double-check that everything has been taken care of, including the following steps.
#2. Double and Triple Check Your Plumbing and Wiring
There are few things worse than finishing a basement only to discover that you have wiring or plumbing problems. Your brand new basement looks great, but now you have to tear part of it up again to fix something behind the walls or under the floors.
You’ll need a permit to get this work done, so it’s well worth it to get it done early.
#3. Install Windows That Are Up to Code
You’ll need to install egress windows that let in light and allow people to escape in case of an emergency. The opening must be at least 5.7 sq. ft. so that a firefighter can enter the basement with their equipment. It also needs to be 20 inches wide and 24 inches high, and the bottom can’t be more than 44 inches from the floor.
#4. Consider Installing Heated Flooring
It gets cold in a basement. You might want to warm up your floors, especially if you have a shower installed. No one wants to step onto a cold floor after a hot shower.
They won’t heat up the room much, but you also won’t have to turn up your heat higher to warm the floors. You can buy loose heating cables or get them in ready-to-install mats. The loose cables are cheaper but require more work to install.
#5. Leave Space for Large Items
Whether you do it yourself or work with a professional, a finished basement is a great addition to any house. It can be a place for mom or dad to escape or a place for kids and their friends to hang out and play.
Make sure you leave enough space for pool tables, large TVs, desks, or studio space. Basements are great places for all of these large items. Take down walls if you have to.
#6. Choose Your Flooring
Carpet might seem like a good idea for a basement, but it’s likely to absorb moisture and become damp. Wood floors will be ruined by that moisture, and tile floors will be too cold.
Luckily, there are a few options that get around those problems. Cork and luxury vinyl floors are great options for a basement.
Cork flooring is warm and comes in water-resistant varieties. It’s also easy to install and maintain.
Luxury vinyl flooring might be the best option because it’s very difficult to damage and completely waterproof. You can even make it look like wood or tile, depending on the style you get and the way it is cut.
Finally, Add the Finishing Touches
Once you’ve taken care of these five important steps, you can start the fun part: designing your new basement.
Now, you get to choose your lighting, furniture, and special items that will make it feel like home. Will the space be used as a home office, entertainment center, bedroom, or den? Make sure to add plenty of lighting options, including dimmers.
No matter what the space is used for, you’re sure to enjoy your new basement - Get Planning!
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey