Low-Cost Basement Finishing Ideas
So you own a home and the upstairs is just not enough living space for you. And then you realize that you have an entire basement below full of all the stuff you have in storage. What do you do?
This is exactly what I was up against in the rancher I live in. I needed more living space but didn't want to move to a larger home. If you are a handy person and can do some remodeling of your home or basement, then you will save an enormous amount of money, as I did. The only things you will need are your building materials and a good idea of just how you would like your finished basement to look.
Clean Out Your Space and Think About What You Want to Do With It
Before you start planning out how you want your basement to look, it might be a good idea to clean up the area. That way, you can get a better sense of the actual space and what you might want to do with it.
For instance, I first had to get rid of all the things I was storing in the basement that I didn't even need. I started sorting through everything and threw out anything that I had to think twice about. Then I hired a 20-yard dumpster to haul away all the unneeded things. After the cleaning out was complete, I grabbed a pencil, paper, and a tape measure and got to work planning my new basement.
As you start to brainstorm ideas for how you want to remodel your basement and begin drawing out how it might look, consider the following questions:
- Would you like partition walls in your basement?
- What about a bar area for entertaining?
- Would you like a bathroom in your basement?
These are some of the main things I thought about when I decided to finish my basement for more living space. Once you have answered those questions for yourself, it should be time to draft your layout plan and materials list.
Begin Planning Your Basement Layout
After your basement is cleaned out and you can actually see the floor, you are ready to plan the open area (and start laying out your partition walls if you choose to do so).
If you want to have a storage area—to hide your heater and hot water heater, for instance—then, of course, a wall needs to be put up. So, using your tape measure and your imagination, look to see exactly how much room you will need for storage and work room around your heating equipment.
How to Set Up Your New Basement Wall
I chose to run a wall from one side of the basement to the other, with an entrance door. I began with measuring the distance of the future wall and started writing out my lumber list. I used all 2 x 3 studs, because it was not a bearing wall and no plumbing would be going into it. I also went with 2-foot, on-center spacing for the studs, rather than the typical 16-inch, on-center.
For your own wall, you will likely need a pneumatic gun that is designed to shoot nails into your basement concrete floor so that you can put down the bottom plate of your new wall.
Here's a helpful guide for that process:
- Lay your top and bottom plates for your new wall on the floor side-by-side. Mark out your studs at your desired spacing. (I went with 2-foot, on-center spacing.) This way, all your upright studs will be plumb.
- If you have enough room, you can build your new wall on the floor. If not, you will have to get your bottom plate down with your top plate positioned and nailed in your ceiling joist.
- After that is completed, start to nail in each of your 2 x 3 studs where you indicated on your top and bottom plates.
- Figure out where you would like your entrance door to be and frame out accordingly.
- After your wall is complete, it is time to figure out how much sheet rock will be needed for your new wall. Measure the length and width of your wall.
- Each sheet of sheet rock is 4 x 8, and the coverage area is 32 square feet.
- So if your wall is 20 feet wide by 8 feet high, the area is 160 square feet. You then divide 32 into that, and you come up with five 4 x 8 sheets of sheet rock for that wall. (I also always buy at least one extra sheet for any cutting mistakes that may arise.)
Note: If you're looking for another handy walkthrough to guide you through the process, check out Wayne of the Woods' breakdowns of how to build a wall.
Decide on a Flooring Option That Works Best for Your Space
One thing that is important to consider is that if you think or know you might have a basement that sometimes gets damp or possibly wet, then I would strongly suggest just painting your floors or maybe installing some inexpensive tile.
I was fortunate that there haven't been any signs of water problems in our neighborhood. Most of the homes here have carpeted basements. So I went with wall-to-wall carpet to give the room more of a warm feeling—not to mention warm on your feet too.
For a quicker and easier route, however, there is always the option of painting your concrete floor and using a few area rugs to give it a warmer look. This is another way to save some money and still have a finished look.
Note: One other way to have a great look to your basement floor is by installing a laminate floor.
Consider Your Bathroom Options
If you have decided you would like to have a basement bathroom, then you might want to consider that I purchased, as it is remarkable for a basement bathroom. It's made by Saniflo and is designed for pumping uphill. It has a macerating, greywater pump system. It can pump uphill 16 feet and as far over as 150 feet to your main sewer drain. the particular toilet
You can also add a sink and a shower in your new basement bath that would drain into the toilet and discharge your waste water. As you use your sink or shower, the water drains into the small holding tank in the toilet. And when the tank is full, the pump automatically turns on and discharges the waste water into the main sewer drain of your house.
Choose Which Kind of Ceiling You Want
There are a few different ways you can finish your ceiling. Some may prefer to sheet rock the whole ceiling, while others prefer to use the drop ceiling (which is quite simple to install).
I chose to leave my ceiling rafter exposed and painted the entire ceiling in flat black paint. This is what some call the "loft look," as it resembles what some have in various New York apartment lofts. I painted all the heating ducts, the wires, all the plumbing, and every inch of wood, giving the ceiling an illusion of being higher than it really is.
What's good about the open ceiling is that if by chance you had a water leak in any of the plumbing, you have complete access to it. With the sheet rock or the drop ceiling routes, however, in the event of a leak your new ceiling would have water damage that would have to be repaired.
Additionally, I had easy access to running all my electric for my ceiling lighting. I mounted all my recessed lights up in the rafters and installed them all with dimmer switches. This is a awesome look when it's all completed and you dim those lights with that black ceiling above.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2010 Mark Bruno