Steps to Finish a Basement

What are the Steps to Finish a Basement
Planning, Framing, Electrical, Plumbing, Drywall, Paint, Flooring
DIY Steps to Finish a Basement.

1. Planning

First Step to Finish a Basement

Planning and Design is the first step to finish and create a beautiful basement. It is important to measure your basement space and decide what you want various areas used for. Planning for your basement is also an important step to creating an inviting living space. Your goal is to make the best use of that basement space. You do not want to design your space to look like a boxed in chopped up basement in any way if possible.

Some basements can be very complicated to plan due to duct work, pipes, poles and other obstructions. You want to try and plan for a nice flowing open floor plan that fits your lifestyle, budget and ideas. Following the steps listed on this website will help you with planning a basement that will fit your individual space. Read more....

2. Framing

Step 2 to Finish a Basement

Marking the walls...Begin by deciding exactly where the wall will go. Use a framing square and a chalk line to mark its location on the floor. For long walls, check for square using the 3-4-5 method. Using a framing level and a straight 2x4 that is as high as your basement ceiling, mark the wall location on the ceiling, joists, or cross bracing. These marks will help you position the wall before you plumb it. Make sure there is adequate framing in the ceiling to which you can nail the top plate.

Cut and mark the plates... Using your floor layout as a guide, mark and cut 2x4s for the top and bottom plates. Place them on edge beside each other and mark for the studs. The first stud will be at the end of the wall. The remaining studs should be 16 inches on center, meaning that from the edge of the wall to the center of each stud will be a multiple of 16. Make a mark every 16 inches; then with a combination or speed square draw lines 3/4 inch on each side of your first marks. Draw an X in the middle of the marks to show where to nail the studs. Read more....

3. Electrical

Step 3 to Finish a Basement

Yes, you can do you own electrical. Electrical can be one of the more expensive parts of finishing your basement but if you tackle this step yourself you can save a ton of money. Now it is very important to know the rules for the area where you live. Some cities will allow you to do only part of the electrical work and you need to call in a licensed electrician to do some of the steps. You should always check the rules before you start. Electrical can also be very dangerous so don't attempt it unless you really know what you are doing! This is one step to finish a basement where you should really consider calling in a pro.

Now if you decide to tackle this step by yourself, you should make every effort to educate yourself and make sure you have the proper tools before you start. There are many books about home wiring (I'm going to list just a few of my favorites below) and there are also many videos out there but please keep in mind that anyone can post a video and many of these DIY videos can actually show the wrong way to do something! Makking a mistake while working with electricity can be very dangerous! Read more....

4. Plumbing

Step 4 to Finish a Basement

Basements in many newer homes are built with basic plumbing drains and vent stacks built into the basement. This is commonly called stub-outs or stubs. If you see pvc plumbing pipes that look like they just go into the basement floor and lead nowhere, you may already have basic stubs for plumbing. Stub-out plumbing in a basement could include drains for a toilet, tub and shower drains as well as a bathroom sink drain and a vent stack for the future basement bathroom. Don't worry if you don't know which pipe is for plumbing. We will go over some basic plumbing terms on this page. Pictures and video of basement plumbing will also be included at the bottom of this page as well as links to other helpful plumbing resources for your basement.

If you have an older home or a basement where plumbing stub-outs were not included during construction, you can still add whatever plumbing fixtures you need and tie them into the existing home plumbing. Installing a bathroom with toilet or a shower will require you to break up the concrete to run drain lines and you may have to install an ejector pump to drain the waste. Most important is to have a plan before you start. Draw your plumbing layout and fixtures on the basement floor with chalk, Make a blueprint or whatever you have to do to figure out where the basement plumbing will go.

When installing plumbing it is important to know what codes your area requires. You can usually get this information by calling your local building dept. You may need a licensed plumber to check your work and also to be present during rough-in or final plumbing inspections. Requirements can vary for different areas so be sure you know what is required in your basement before you start. More details on Plumbing and some of the tools you may need to do your own plumbing can be found on other pages of our website. Read more....

5. Drywall

Step 5 to Finish a Basement

The installation of Drywall, or sometimes hanging drywall as the professionals usually refer to the installation, can be done by the homeowner. Having said that, it is usually best carried out with two or more people as it takes a large amount of lifting of heavy material. Mudding and Taping can also be performed by the homeowner, even so these tasks require some practice and artistry. Measuring and Ordering Drywall

Before you actually hang the drywall, you will need to measure all walls, order the drywall material and have it all delivered. To figure out how much material you need to order you will need to measure all surfaces where you will be installing the drywall. Start with the ceilings first and then the walls. if you calculate the total square footage and then divide this number by 32 you will come up with the number of 4x8 sheets you will need. Most professionals also add 10% to this number to account for some waste that you will have with every job. It is always easier to throw a few scraps away and not have to pay for another delivery. You can purchase drywall in larger sheets but I would not recommend it for a do-it-yourself project. Larger sheets are much heavier and their added lenghth makes them much more difficult to get into your basement. Sometimes the larger sheets will not make it inside your front door and very rarely will they make it down the stairs to your basement project. For installation in bathrooms, around tubs, showers or other wet areas a special type of board called cement board or greenboard must be used to combat moisture problems. Standard drywall will soak up water and mold very easily so it should never be used in wet areas. The cement board used around tubs and showers could also be called Wonderboard or Durock. These are brand names but many professional contractors will call these materials by their brand.

You will also need fiberglass tape and joint compound for taping and mudding. Joint Compound can be picked up in ready-mixed containers at most home improvement stores or you can get a dry mix and add water to mix your own. I would suggest ready-mix for your first project. You will need approx 5 gallons for every 500 square ft. of drywall but you could use more or less depending on your seams and how you apply the compound. Paper and or fiberglass tape can be used for joints. Paper is smoother and easier to cover but the fiberglass tape holds the joint compound together and produces a stronger seam. You can pick up a few rolls of each and decide which is easier for you to install. Read more....

6. Painting

Step 6. to Finish a Basement

Painting can easily be done by the do-it-yourself homeowner. Listed below are basic instructions and how-to tips and tricks for painting. Follow these instructions and you will see how simple it is to get great results.

Step 1 Clean Ceiling and Walls

Remove dust, dirt, and grease spots (which can ruin a smooth finish) with water, a little mild dishwashing detergent, and a cellulose sponge. Rinse ceiling and walls with clean water to remove the soap residue.

Step 2 Cut in Around Edges

Beginning at the corner of the room, use a two-inch or 2.5-inch trim brush to "cut in," applying a three-inch strip of coating along the perimeter where the wall and the ceiling meet. Cut in a section at a time, alternating between cutting in and painting the ceiling to maintain a wet edge and prevent a visible line between the cut-in area and the rest of the ceiling.

Step 3 Rolling the Ceiling

Before you begin painting the ceiling, remove excess paint on the roller by slowly rolling it back and forth over the ridges of the paint tray. Start painting near the corner of the room, blending the coating into the ceiling line painted previously. Paint across the width of the ceiling, rather than the length, and make sure to roll in a motion across your body, rather than along your body, to avoid straining your neck and back.

Step 4 Painting the Walls

Once your ceiling is dry, return to the spot where you began painting. Use a trim brush to carefully cut in along the wall-ceiling line. Extend out two to three inches from windows, doors, and moldings. Once you've cut in around an entire wall area, use a roller to fill in the field. For efficiency, start in the corner of a wall and roll on a three-by-three-foot W pattern, then fill it in without lifting the roller. Continue in sections until you're finished. Paint one wall at a time. Read more...

7. Flooring

Step 7 to Finish a Basement

Installing flooring in your basement can easily be done by the do-it-yourself homeowner. Listed below are a few basic basement flooring options. Keep in mind your basement is not like the other floors in your house. Most basements with concrete floors will have some moisture and this limits the types of flooring you can use. Before considering flooring you should check your sump pump and back-up sump pump for proper operation and maintenance. A little bit of water can ruin a very expensive floor quickly. Your primary thought with basement flooring should always be moisture and how to avoid it coming into contact with your new floor.

Vinyl Flooring

One of the better flooring choices for basement flooring. It comes in both sheet goods or vinyl tile pieces. Sheet goods may be less expensive for large areas but you may have to make seams which can be a tricky project for the average homeowner. Tile vinyl flooring on the other hand comes in squares that can be easily installed by homeowners and if a section of tiles gets wet, they can be removed and replaced without removing the entire floor.

Stone Flooring

Stone Flooring Tiles also called Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) look just like real stone, both in appearance and in texture. Many times LVT is designed to look just like slate, travertine, marble, and other popular stones, yet it is actually vinyl or some mix of hard vinyl and or plastic composites. This type of flooring often can be up to twice as thick as normal tile which results in better insulation against cold coming up from your concrete basement floor. Read more....

Tools You may Need

There are some tools you are gonna need if you decide to follow the steps above and finish your own basement. many of these tools you may already have but there are a few you may not have used before and when you need them you will be glad to have them! Even something as simple as a drywall bit can save you hours of labor and having the right tools also makes the job go smoother.

For your convenience, I'm going to list some basic tools and maybe a few books below but you can always find the tools that will make your project easier listed at the bottom of each page when you click the Read more... links in the steps above. Of course if you want to see all the tools needed to finish a basement you can just here.. for my full list of favorites. Please remember that your basement project is going to be unique. I cannot possibly list all the tools you may need but looking at the tools I use may be helpful. Also a quick note about where I buy my tools. Most of my tools come from Amazon and this is because I really hate standing in line, especially for returns! It takes me about 20 minutes to drive to a home improvement store, maybe 20 minutes to find exactly what I am looking for, 20 minutes standing in line and then 20 minutes back home. And then if I want to return something, I have to do it all over again and did you ever notice how many extra questions they like to ask when you return a tool?? Amazon on the other hand is no questions asked. if I want to return something, I just check a box, print the return authorization myself and put the tool right back in the box it came in and put it on the porch for pickup. Couldn't be easier!

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