Showing posts with label Basement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Basement. Show all posts


Basement Carpet Suggestions

Carpet in Basements: The Issues, Solutions, and Alternatives

Basement floors don't have to be cold and damp but they often are. Unless you can design or retrofit your basement slab to be warm and dry, avoid wall-to-wall carpet as a floor finish.

Posted on Oct 17 by Peter Yost

Designing dry, warm basement floors Dry warm basement floors are designed to manage:

1. Water at ground level - gutters and downspouts connected to splash blocks on soil sloped away from the building; 2. Water at the footing - perimeter pipe drainage at the footing; 3. Water in porous materials - capillary breaks—free-draining gravel and/or nonporous sheet good, like poly—underneath the slab, between the concrete walls and the soil, and between the footing and the foundation walls. 4. Floor surface temperature – subslab rigid insulation warms the basement slab and elevates its temperature.

The basement floor is dry, you think Before you put any finished flooring down on what appears to be a dry floor, it's a smart thing to determine just how dry it really is. Many basement concrete floors don't have a capillary break or vapor barrier installed underneath them and evaporate what can be quite a bit of water off of their surface, water that is wicking from the soil up through the concrete.

There are two simple tests to determine slab moisture transmission

One involves just taping down a sheet of plastic for at least 16 hours and seeing if the underside of the plastic is wet (ASTM D4263).

  1. If it's dry, congratulations, you can put down any finished flooring product you want to.
  2. If it's wet, you might want to consider the next test, the anhydrous calcium chloride test (ASTM F1869), which can tell you the RATE of moisture transmission.
  3. Knowing this rate means that you can check flooring manufacturer recommendations on moisture transmission rates and see what types of flooring can handle what your slab is doing.

Keep in mind that many types of flooring go down with water-soluble adhesives; that can be a real problem if your slab is drying a lot of water through its surface.

Carpet in basements Many, but certainly not all, carpets and carpet cushion are vapor permeable, so if your basement slab is transmitting moisture, it can continue to evaporate up through the pad and carpet. On the other hand, if the carpet or pad is on a cool slab and it is loaded with dirt, pet and human dander, it's just about a perfect place to cultivate dust mites and even mildew.

Bottom line? If your basement slab is un-insulated and/or damp or transmitting moisture (and most are):

1. Avoid installed wall-to-wall carpeting. Choose a hard surface material that meets manufacturer recommendations for what you know to be how much moisture is transmitting up through your basement slab. 2. Maintain gaps for air circulation. Keep absorbent materials up off the basement floor and keep gaps between your slab and all objects, such as furniture. 3. Keep your basement floor clean. Damp mop or vacuum your basement floor on a regular basis, based on use and traffic. If you're using area rugs, launder or clean these on a regular basis and ideally, give them regular exposure to direct sunlight by taking them outside. 4. Manage relative humidity in the basement. Use an Energy Star-labeled dehumidifier to keep the interior relative humidity at or below 60%.

-- Scott's Contracting


Basement Conversion Photos

Ideal Situation

Think functionality for any type of lower-level entertaining space.
Will you serve family dinners in the basement or just a few drinks to friends?
Do you only need a refrigerator to hold beer during the football game or is a full bar more your style?
Whatever you decide, renovate your space accordingly, making sure everything you need (including stemware, snack bowls, and wine) is right at your fingertips.
Brick Basement with Pool Table


 Gathering Spot

Give people a reason to do downstairs. If you don't have much light, turn the space into a home theater.
heaters and game rooms are good reasons to go down into a dark basement.

dark bathroom with short toilet against stone wall

Embrace the Dark Side

Use the lack of natural light in your basement to your advantage by creating a dramatic space with modern wood paneling and stone.
wet bar high counter with light wood

Light Direction

Plan to add several new light fixtures to your renovated basement to combat darkness in the space.
Recessed lighting unobtrusively shines on work areas and pendent lamps provide more direct illumination.
white couch, brown mirror, escape route

Moisture Control

With basement rooms, the most important task is keeping moisture out.
There are multiple ways to keep your basement dry.
Ensure good drainage off your roof and away from your foundation, provide good ventilation of bathrooms and kitchens to the outside, and don't open windows during humid periods.
Another option is to install a subfloor panel system, which creates a moisture barrier.
If you live in a humid climate, dehumidifiers are an effective way to remove excess moisture from the basement.
However, they can draw water through foundation walls. If this starts to be a problem, turn off the dehumidifier.
white basement, 2 purple chairs, ROI
Quick Return
Finishing a basement is a good investment.
A basement project adds new functionality to your home by providing more living space and more efficient storage.

Part 8: 1st Floor Weatherization

Part 9: See the Difference a Little White Paint Makes

Part 10: Interior Framing-Plumbing-Laundry Room

Part 11: Kitchen Framing Tip #36-Benton Rehab Project

Part 12: Water Main Repair- Benton Rehab

Part 13: Benton Rehab Project Drywall Installation and Tip: Number 1172

Scott's Contracting

Basement Remodeling Photos-Basement Design Photos

tv above fireplace
Scotts Contracting is available for the Building of Your Next Basement Project. Use the following links to contact scotty for a free estimate.

Entertainment Center

The space above the fireplace is becoming popular for flat-panel TVs. Before mounting a TV above your mantel, however, make sure the wall temperature doesn't exceed 90 degrees when the fire is lit. The space behind the mounting area should be hollow to accommodate necessary wiring.

basement overall-wood accents

Know Building Codes

Basement rooms must be at least 7X7 feet and have a minimum ceiling height of 84 inches over 50 percent of the floor area. Bathrooms, hallways, and task areas can have ceilings that dip as low as 76 inches in some spots. All bedrooms window need to be at least 20 inches wide and 24 inches high, or 5.7 square feet, and no more than 44 inches off the floor. Having a room that matches these dimensions will ensure that people can walk around comfortably and escape in case of an emergency.

light-colored kitchen
Renovating a basement to include a kitchen allows you to move entertaining downstairs. This walkout makes use of the natural light available, but installing light-tone and glass-front cabinets is a good trick for brightening a windowless basement, too.

Basement Storage

Make an Entrance

Consider your stairway location and how it leads you into the basement space. Ideally the stairs will lead to a family room or a main gathering area. Stair risers should be no more than 8 inches tall, and the treads must be at least 9 inches deep. Although regulations vary from region to region, most require that stairs have guardrails at least 34 inches high and that the guardrails must have intermediate rails or posts or other ornamental fill that will not allow objects 4 inches in diameter or larger to pass.
basement windows

Bring in the Light

Bringing in natural light is one of the biggest challenges when creating a basement room. Window wells are the most common solution where the window-opening height is below ground level. In case of an emergency, you can climb out the window and up the well. Choose window well locations carefully so you can make them as wide and deep as possible. The wider and deeper the well, the greater the amount of sunlight flowing into the basement.
white basement, green beam, basement doors

Have an Escape Route

Check your local building codes to determine if they require egress windows for a basement bedroom. Egress windows must be large enough for a firefighter in full gear to get into a burning house and for occupants to safely escape if the stairway is blocked. If you can't install egress windows, consider adding hinged outside access doors.
basment with beams

Create Zones

Manage the wide-open spaces of the lower level by breaking it up into separate, smaller areas. Create different zones for the different activities you will do there. Many basements have load-bearing beams throughout the basement. Use these beams to define the different areas.
Three Girls watching Big Screen HDTV

Quiet Time

Whether your lower level is a home theater, dance studio, or just a space to relax, noise can travel up and disrupt other household activities. Keep noise where it belongs by soundproofing the area. Choose drywall that is soundproof. This type of drywall is visually indistinguishable from standard drywall, but it's engineered to dampen noise.
wet bar looking out into living space with leather seating

Make It Interesting

Since most unfinished basements are just a box beneath the home, think of adding architectural elements when remodeling, such as the built-in wall niche and angled ceiling shown here.
basement--wall unit, books, ceiling

Finishing Touches

Suspended ceilings are great for adding a finished look. They cover ductwork, electrical components, and bare joints from the floor above. But they can lower the ceiling height by about a foot. If you don't want to lose this height, consider using furring strips to drop the ceiling only enough to hide everything but the ductwork. Then install tongue-and-groove planking or standard drywall to finish the ceiling.

Scotts Contracting is available for the Building of Your Next Basement Project. Use the following links to contact scotty for a free estimate.
basement, red accents, flooring

Sure Footing

Most basement floors start off as a concrete slab, but they don't have to stay that way. If your floor is level and dry, considering covering it with ceramic tile, laminate, or vinyl. All are durable choices that are easy to install over concrete. Solid-wood flooring isn't recommended for basement applications because small fluctuations in moisture levels can cause buckling and splitting, but engineered wood is a suitable alternative.
bed in between white built-ins

Don't Forget Storage

Remodeling your basement means losing some storage space, so make sure you include built-ins wherever possible to accommodate the items you still need to store out of the way. Here, dual built-ins "frame" the bed and have niches in the side to serve as bedside tables.
home improvement, basement, remodeling, floor, ceiling, lighting, windows

Rising Temperatures

Heating a basement can be a challenge. Registers in the ceiling push warm air into the room, but that warm air rises to the ceiling. Subfloor panel systems and in-floor radiant heating are good solutions for cold feet. Subfloor panel systems provide good insulation. Radiant-heat systems provide inexpensive, even warmth throughout a room and eliminate the cold spots and drafts created by forced-air systems.

Scotts Contracting is available for the Building of Your Next Basement Project. Use the following links to contact scotty for a free estimate.

Scott's Contracting


Home Foundation Repair-Basic Guide-Stone/Rock Foundation

Home Foundation Repair: The Basics 

Green builders and home preservationists have a common goal: conservation. If you're looking to bring an older home up to modern standards of green building, you'll need to understand the basics of fixing a home's foundation, and what can cause foundation failure.

Old homes were designed with structural logic much different from today's. New homes are designed with strict adherence to the lumber sizing and spans listed in the building code. Old homes were built with common sense, logic and feel. Most homes built between 1880 and 1930 were built on inferior footing. These old footings offer foundation walls little support, which then may support often overspanned joists and girders. Historic home foundations were subject to improper load calculation, inferior footings and substandard mortar. Old framing systems can be vastly over- or under-built. Each is a potential point of failure. It is crucial to understand such risks during a rehabilitation.

Structural failure is a phrase that scares the average Joe. Unfortunately, most structures subject to a century of seasonal expansions, water, humans, animals, deferred maintenance, improper storage and poor footings are destined to have some structural issues that need to be addressed. Combine construction flaws, time and the dreadful soil of central North Carolina, and it's rare that I see an old home that doesn't have some sort of structural problem. Structural issues can all be addressed, however, and most are simple (but laborious) fixes.

The structure of a building is formed by foundation and framing.

The foundation is a structure that transfers loads to earth. It keeps earth and wood apart. The concept is simple: A house is heavy, so a foundation spreads that load over an area suitable for the earth to handle. The average two-story Queen Anne Victorian weighs between 30 and 60 tons, enough for three 20-ton jacks to support the whole thing (theoretically, but don't try it at home).

The framing forms the structure, defines separate rooms and carries the floor, wall and roof loads to the foundation.

I'll discuss the most common foundation and framing techniques, common problems and how each is typically fixed. I'll also discuss basic preservation and sustainability issues related to the structure.

Footings and Foundations

Footing and Foundations are constructed of footings and foundation walls. A footing is the belowground mass, generally made of concrete or brick, that supports the foundation wall. It is sized to transfer the weight of the entire structure to ground. A footing must sit on stable soil and not backfill, which compresses easily. If the soil is not stable, the footing is more likely to fail. Today footings are eight inches wider than the wall or pier they support (e.g., a 12-inch-wide wall requires a 20-inch-wide footing) and deep enough to sit below the frost line, the depth at which groundwater is expected to freeze in a respective climate.

Footing construction varies greatly on old homes. Larger stately homes may well be on large and well built footings, though it would be rare to find the metal reinforcing bar (rebar) required today. Many houses sit on a soldier course, which is nothing more than an extra course of bricks at the bottom of the brick pier or foundation wall. Soldier courses are commonly found above the frost line and are prone to mortar breakdown, especially under pressure of water.

The foundation wall carries loads from the exterior sill beam framing to the footing. Piers support interior girders and are made of a variety of materials — stone, masonry and poured-in-place concrete are all common. Mortar joints offer little resistance to unbalanced lateral forces (such as a backfilled basement wall), so tall, thin, unreinforced masonry curtain walls are prone to failure.

The foundation wall also defines the area underneath the main living space. In the northern United States, basements are common, while in the South, crawl spaces are more typical. A below-grade basement or crawl space is intrinsically unstable and problematic; the pressures of earth and groundwater are predisposed to assault its footing and wall. Based on their porosity, soils hold and shed varying amounts of water. The basement floor can actually be below the water table, most likely in spring when snow is melting both on the roof and ground.

Water causes nearly all problems in foundations. Water against a foundation wall exerts hydrostatic pressure — water trying to get from areas of high pressure (poor draining soil) to areas with less (your basement). Frost heave happens when water freezes in poorly draining soil, then expands and pushes the footing, foundation and house upward. Any footing above the frost line will rise and fall with the freeze thaw cycle. Typical frost lines vary from four feet in Maine to less than a foot in the Southeast, and footings must be at least as deep as the frost line to avoid frost heave. The best solutions for water problems are to grade, divert roof runoff, dampproof or waterproof the foundation.

Grading refers to the slope of earth around the foundation. Code requires a 5 percent slope to 6 feet around the foundation, and many old homes fail this bench mark. Any place where a slope does not meet such grade is subject to water problems. Solutions include swales, which create a low point six to 12 feet from the foundation to capture water, and French drains, a subsurface swale covered with perforated pipe and drainage gravel, allowing surface grading to remain unaltered.

RE: Roof runoff (rainwater) is diverted away from the foundation by either gutters or proper grading. In cold climates gutters cause ice dams which can result in roof leaks and eave damage, which is why some forgo gutters in favor of ground-based drainage often involving plastic water barrier protection covered with decorative gravel or a continuous pitched concrete grade.


Dampproofing keeps most water out of the foundation, but allows water through in a torrential rain. A perforated pipe is set just below the exterior of the footing, sloped to direct water away via gravity or sump pump.A dampproofing approach may or may not include a latex waterproofing paint on the foundation wall, now required by many local ordinances on new construction.

Waterproofing keeps all water from entering the foundation and is necessary if using the basement as finished space. It is much more involved than dampproofing. Waterproofing can be done inside or outside the foundation wall; it's better to stop water before it enters the structure though that does requires a more expensive exterior waterproofing. First, a thick, impermeable dimple sheet is installed to keep water out of the foundation. Next, just below the footing, a perforated pipe is set which captures groundwater and drains it to either daylight or a sump pump. A sump pump is used to remove water accumulated in a sump pit, commonly placed at the low point in a basement, crawl space or exterior.

Bentonite clay is a natural waterproofing material that functions by suspending water in a gelatinous form. Less natural but more common is extruded polystyrene foam board insulation (XPS), which is a cheap and common detail on new foundations, particularly in northern climates. It is nonpermeable (except at its seams), helping resist water infiltration.

It's important to differentiate between problems caused by surface water runoff and a high water table. The first can be fixed rather simply, the latter may be impossible. High water tables enter the structure through the wall and the basement floor. Concrete is porous, and no match for such pressure. Today, vapor barriers of 4- or 6-millimeter-thick polyethylene are installed under slabs and are an excellent tool against such an assault. Old homes won't have such a barrier. A possible fix is to install a vapor barrier and pour a new slab. Still, while it's feasible to waterproof a new footing and all its transition points it's nearly impossible to waterproof an old footing. Footing drains outside should relieve some of the pressure, but not all. If there is evidence of a high water table, it's recommended that you leave the basement unfinished. Finished basements require a 100 percent success rate against water, and the costs to insure such a rate would be too excessive.

Lastly, a wet basement can occasionally be caused by a blocked drain tile, failed sewer or stormwater line. Unfortunately, private lines are not easily explored by anything short of excavation. Plumbers do have pipe camera tools that can avert a major dig, though many are cautious about sending an expensive piece of equipment up a pipe with an unknown blockage.

House Jacking

Fixing the foundation, or rebuilding it entirely, requires the temporary transfer of the house's loads above in order to perform the work. Holding the house consists of temporarily lifting the load-bearing girders or sills on a portion of the house just enough to remove failed members. One-half inch is usually enough. Raising the house consists of lifting the entire house at once. One foot elevation to an entire story is typical. Raising strategies might be considered when a usable basement is desired in tandem with major foundation reconstruction. The house may be raised as much as eight to ten feet to allow for the addition of a new floor below.

The merits of permanently raising a house are an ongoing debate in the preservation community. An argument that the house must be raised to ensure its longevity as a healthy structure makes a stronger case than arguing it must be raised because the owner wants a game room. Generally speaking, lifting the house significantly disrupts the streetscape by creating an unusually tall structure, particularly so if raising more than a few feet. In New Orleans, of course, it's argued that raising houses is necessary now to survive potential future flooding, so the debate continues.

It also is impossible to raise a house without reconstruction of chimneys, since the practice will throw all your hearths off elevation. Floors are raised while chimneys are not. Balloon-framed homes can be more difficult to jack than platform-framed structures. Since a balloon-framed floor may be tacked onto the studs with nothing more than a few nails, jacking up the floor may lift only the floor system, while not lifting the walls. To correct this, jacking may be required from the inside and out, and sometimes a temporary wall between floors is needed to ensure the whole structure rises in tandem.

New Foundation Construction


After the house has been lifted, a new foundation wall can be built. Often a pier and curtain wall will be replaced by a continuous masonry wall made of either brick, CMU block or both. Wood wicks water from masonry, which is why building codes now specify that any wood in contact with masonry now must be pressure-treated. If a new foundation wall is supporting an existing non-treated sill, termite protection should be installed — either pressure-treated wood or a termite flashing made of 20 gauge aluminum. Be sure to install sleeves for utilities. Short PVC stubs suffice for electric, water and HVAC lines.

As with all exterior features, try to match any foundation detailing. If the piers protruded beyond the curtain wall on the exterior, or had some masonry corbelling for example, it would be good to restore that detail. I've found preservation boards to be reasonably flexible so long as the old foundation wasn't extremely distinctive.

Additional Links:

Foundation walls are usually made of poured concrete or stacked concrete block, materials that reinforce the feeling of the basement as a secondary space. To give the basement main-floor style, cover the concrete with your choice of ...
Your basement is basically a box of porous concrete, buried in wet ground, and when that ground gets saturated with water, the resulting hydrostatic pressure pushes the water against the foundation walls. That water will eventually find ...
Rock Foundation Repair and Water Proofing PhotosScotts Contracting Job Site Photos
This page contains various job sites photos of projects .

Scotts Contracting performs the repairs needed in our City's Typical Rock Foundations found on a Large Percent of City Dwellings. Addresses Below to email scotty for a free estimate on your next project.

 Newly added Basement Photos: 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Basement Conversion Photos 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Basement Remodeling Photos-Basement Design Photos

Friday, October 22, 2010

Before and After Fireplace Photos

Scott's Contracting


Easy Access Basement Post Collection

Blog Post Collection
Photos, Ideas, Products, Suggestions, Wet Basements, Mold, Green, Eco Friendly, Insulation, Stairways, Finishes, Slate, Tile, Carpet, Accessible, Access Points, more

Jul 20, 2010
Jul 20, 2010
So, why are you finishing your basement anyway? If you want to have more living space or update your home with a customized room, or maybe you've heard that you can upgrade your basement with new and/or green products that you will save ...

Jul 19, 2010
Jul 19, 2010
Think about who will sleep in the basement and the amenities they'll need to help you determine the best dimensions. To comfortably fit a double bed, you'll need a room with a minimum of 125 square feet. If twin beds will serve your . ...

Jun 22, 2010
Jun 22, 2010
Green Builder Handy Man Construction Service-Saint Louis M0 We Promote- Green Products and Green Building Services -Design Sales Installation Construction-

Jun 22, 2010
Jun 22, 2010
Basement Bathroom Ideas Part 2 Tuck in a Tiny Powder... [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Jun 22, 2010
Jun 22, 2010
Basement Bathroom Ideas Part 1 of 2 ... [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Jun 22, 2010
Jun 22, 2010
Create Understair Display Space Turn the space under the stairs into a display cabinet for collections. Wire the cabinet for lighting so you can... [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, ...

Jul 21, 2010
Jul 21, 2010
Replacing and sealing ducts can also be a DIY project, especially when ducts can be easily accessed in an attic or basement. Leaks should be sealed with mastic sealant or metal tape (not duct tape), then insulated to reduce heat loss ...

Nov 11, 2009
Nov 11, 2009
EPA estimates that homeowners can typically save up to 20% of heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% of total energy costs) by air sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces, and accessible basement ...

May 12, 2010
May 12, 2010
To address this headache, consumers can use duct sealant to repair leaks in exposed ducts, like those in an attic or basement. Kuperszmid Lehrman recommends that homeowners have their ducts insulated as well. ...

May 05, 2010
May 05, 2010
Last summer's severe thunderstorms, which flooded their finished basement and required repairs, spurred them to get started. Ms. Kumaki says they are planning to spend in the low $30000s to update the upstairs bathroom, ...

Apr 30, 2010
Apr 30, 2010
They also sprayed Icynene open-cell foam in the attic roof and in the basement rim joists and ceiling. Finally, the team installed a heat recovery ventilator and an on-demand water heater. Cheimets says the upgrade have made a big ...

Feb 07, 2010
Feb 07, 2010
But that coil is massive and won't fit in my basement because of the low ceiling." To choose the best solution for the customer, make sure that the HVAC contractor reviews existing conditions, including the orientation of the house, ...


    Wet Basement Suggestions

    2 Posts for Basement Projects and Dealing with wet and damp basements. Great Read for everyone with wet basement troubles. Added bonus is the top 6 Mistakes in Basement Remodeling.

    For assistance in your basement renovations Scotts Contracting will supply a free green estimate on your project.

    Additional Basement Ideas at:

    Think about who will sleep in the basement and the amenities they'll need to help you determine the best dimensions. To comfortably fit a double bed, you'll need a room with a minimum of 125 square feet. If twin beds will serve your ...
    If the upstairs hall and basement floor are both carpeted, you'll likely want to carpet the stairs as well. If you're building new stairs or relocating the current ones, consider which areas you're connecting before you decide on ...

    Basement Bathroom Ideas Part 1 of 2
    clipped from Google - 7/2010

    Article 1- by. Superior Basement Systems

    How to Dry Out your Wet Basement

    How to make your basement dry and keep it dry all the time.
    How to Dry Out your Wet Basement
    If you have a really wet or flooding basement, the first thing you want to do is find where the water is coming in from. If possible, seal off the water source to keep additional water from entering your basement.
    Clean Up Begins

    Then, get all carpeting, drywall, boxes of personal belongings, and any other ruined, wet materials out of the basement area all together. Since basements have little to no sunshine, they are breeding grounds for mold and mildew growth. That means you need to remove any wet material from the basement or it will probably mildew, mold and rot. Plus, if you don't remove wet materials, they will probably take on a non-pleasant odor that will permeate your basement space. Be especially careful to check all drywall and boxes, as they may not appear to be wet or damp but in fact are just that.

    Conditioning the Air
    Once you remove all the wet materials from the basement, condition the air using an industrial strength dehumidifier. What this does is wring out the moisture in the air and dry it. You can even hook up the dehumidifier to a hose to drain outside so you don't have to empty the dehumidifier - it automatically goes outside and away from your home!

    An industrial strength dehumidifier is best, as it can handle much more air capacity than a regular home dehumidifier. The dehumidifier's cooling core, which helps condition the moist air, is much larger in an industrial model than in a model you find at your local home improvement store. With an industrial dehumidifier, this means less moisture in your basement and less potential for mold and mildew to grow - who doesn't want that?

    Get a Sump Pump
    Next you'll want to make sure you have a sump pump installed. Any responsible basement waterproofing contractor will advise you to place the sump pump in the lowest point of the basement. Since water seeks usually seeks the lowest point first, a sump pump is most effective in the low spot. Also, when a drainage system is installed, you'll want the system to be pitched to that low spot to work effectively.

    Once enough water is in the sump pump, the pump kicks on and pumps water through a discharge line which then leaves your home. Secondary pumps and back-up sump pumps are also a great idea in case the first pump can't keep up with water demand or if the power is out. Since most homeowners aren't in their basement each and every day, sump pump alarms are a good idea, too. A sump pump alarm alerts you when water rises past the point where the sump should have turned on. This means less worrying and stress for you on a daily basis.

    Top Six Mistakes People Make in Basement Remodeling Projects

    June 23rd, 2010 by cynthia

    Almost everyone who owns a house with an unfinished basement, dreams of having it finished. How can you not think of it? After all, an unfinished basement is a whole floor’s worth of space that can be easily turned into any type of room your family needs.

    However, basement finishing projects are hardly inexpensive and, because basements are like no other room in the house, there are special challenges when it comes to choosing the best finishes and configuration. Basements usually house utilities, plumbing, wiring. They are also quite prone to moisture and water accidents. All of which must be taken into consideration before you tackle your project. Making the wrong choices, can literally spell disaster.

    Below are the six most common mistakes homeowners make in basement remodeling projects:

    1 – Finishing a Wet, Damp or Flood Prone Basement
    Because of the way they are built, basements are always prone to moisture and floods.

    Your basement is basically a box of porous concrete, buried in wet ground, and when that ground gets saturated with water, the resulting hydrostatic pressure pushes the water against the foundation walls. That water will eventually find its way into your basement, through cracks, the joint between walls and floors, as infiltrating the concrete through capillary action. To make matters worse, basements can also be flooded by plumbing leaks, broken water heater tanks and other water accidents. Without proper drainage, a reliable sump pump system, and proper dehumidification, no basement is dry enough to be finished.

    2 – Using wood studs, fiberglass insulation and drywall.
    While these materials work well when finishing rooms above grade, in a basement they usually spell disaster. Basements are naturally humid, and all these materials have the tendency to absorb moisture. They are also made with organic compounds: wood, paper and, in the case of fiberglass, a urea based adhesive is used to hold the batch together.

    When you combine moisture with organic matter, you create ideal conditions for mold to develop. In addition, fiberglass loses all its R-Value when damp and drywall, in contact with water, will begin to decompose and release toxic fumes. Basement walls should be finished with 100% inorganic and waterproof materials that will survive a basement flood or water accident.

    3 – Using wooden subfloors, hardwood floor, cork or bamboo.
    Basically, anything that is made with organic materials is a bad idea for basements. Manufacturers might tell you that these products are either naturally “mold resistant” or are chemically treated to be so. Some wooden basement subfloor manufacturers might claim that the product has a vapor barrier and it is raised from the floor to keep the wood from soaking the moisture from the slab. However, read the small print. None of them really stand a chance to survive a flood, which can be caused by a plumbing leak, for example. Look for basement flooring solutions that are specifically engineered to withstand all sorts of basement moisture conditions.

    4 – Improper use of vapor barriers
    Many contractors will tell you that if you attach poly sheets all over the walls and the floor of the basement, you can pretty much use any type of finish you want, because the “vapor barrier” will protect the materials. Some will have an even worse suggestion: Placing the vapor barrier over the studs and the fiberglass, and then attach the drywall. According to the
     US Department of Energy’s Building America Best Practices recommendations, moisture from basement walls and floors should be allowed to evaporate and dry to the interior. This kind of vapor barrier will only do one thing: trap the water vapor between the concrete and the barrier, where it can condensate, and can cause mold to grow.

    5 – Not having a backup sump pump
    Every year in Wisconsin, millions of dollars are spent on basement flood cleanup, restoration and replacement of flood-damaged property. To make matters worse, the damage is never covered under homeowners insurance, and even special flood insurance establishes coverage limits when it comes to basements. Even if your basement is properly waterproofed and has a good working sump pump, without a battery operated backup sump pump, you are at risk for a basement flood. Keep in mind that the same storms that have the potential to flood your basement can also cause power outages. No power, no pump! Battery backups are also useful in case of a primary pump failure or other electrical malfunction.

    6 – Disregarding moisture control.
    You did all the right things when finishing your basement. You provided drainage, a good sump pump with battery backup. You chose all the right materials for the walls, floor and ceiling. Yet your basement smells musty or you found some mold spots growing in the furniture, fabrics or paper. Although proper waterproofing and good basement finishing choices can greatly improve conditions in the basement, in some cases they will not suffice to control the moisture in the basement.

    Basement moisture levels tend to be higher because of temperature differences between the basement and the areas above grade. When basement moisture levels go above 60% mold will start to develop, especially in organic surfaces. Even if you don’t see it, if the basement smells musty, the mold is present. Basement moisture levels should be closely monitored and a dehumidifier should be used to keep RH levels at or below 55%.

    Scott's Contracting


    Basement Stairway Ideas Part 2

    Scotts Contracting Offers Basement Remodels for every budget
    Scotts Contracting supplies free Green Estimates for every Project
    Click Here to email Scotty for a Project Proposal Basement stairway

    Create Understair Display Space

    Turn the space under the stairs into a display cabinet for collections. Wire the cabinet for lighting so you can spotlight special objects.
    Basement stairway

    Add Style with the Balustrade

    Golden oak balusters, stair rail, and a support column match the trimwork and cabinetry in the basement, creating continuity with the upstairs spaces. Adding style to the staircase can be as simple as affixing solid rectangles of stained wood to every other pair of balusters, creating pattern and interest.
    Basement stairway

    Choose a Distinctive Railing Design

    White beaded-board wainscoting, wood-tone trim and stair treads, and colorful walls lead the way down these winder stairs. The railing features a gridlike design for safety and style. (The spaces between balusters, whether posts or a grid design, should be smaller than a toddler's head.)
    Basement stairway

    Break Up the Descent with a U Shape

    U-shape stairs lined with a Craftsman-style wooden balustrade lead to this basement. This stair design requires more floor space than a straight run of stairs, but it's a good choice when a straight run would be too steep.

    Emphasize the Diagonal

    Instead of a stair rail and balusters, this straight-run staircase features the design equivalent of three parallel handrails. The design emphasizes the strong diagonal of the staircase and maintains an open feeling for the descent into the basement. It also requires fewer materials than traditional posts or balusters would.
    Basement stairway

    Suit the Staircase Style to Your Decor

    A dramatic open-tread staircase built of industrial materials ushers visitors into a clean-lined, contemporary space designed for entertaining.
    Basement stairway

    Stretch the Spiral for a Relaxed Descent

    This sleek, open-tread staircase spirals down gracefully from the first floor, delivering visitors to the lower-level quarters with a flourish. More relaxed than the typical space-saving spiral, the staircase feels open and easy to climb as a result.

    Scotts Contracting Offers Basement Remodels for every budget
    Scotts Contracting supplies free Green Estimates for every Project
    Scott's Contracting 

    Basement Stairway Ideas Part 1

    Scotts Contracting Offers Basement Remodels for every budget
    and also supplies free Green Estimates for every Project
    Click Here to email Scotty for a Project Proposal



      Basement stairway

    Site Stairs Carefully

    If the upstairs hall and basement floor are both carpeted, you'll likely want to carpet the stairs as well. If you're building new stairs or relocating the current ones, consider which areas you're connecting before you decide on placement.
    Avoid connecting a noisy area to a quiet one. For example, a stairway from the basement play room or media room that leads near an upstairs home office or bedroom could prove disruptive. Build stairs parallel to ceiling joists to save on installation time and materials.

    Basement stairway

    Open the Stairway for an Airy Look

    Removing the door to the basement and opening the enclosed stairway created a light, airy feeling in this passage to the subterranean living space. A bar area with two beverage refrigerators--one for wine and one for kids' sodas--separates the lower-level family room from the guest bedroom.
    Basement stairway

    Use the Staircase Wall for Storage

    The staircase design you choose will depend on local building codes, your available space, and the style of your home. If you choose a U-shape design like this one, consider putting the lower staircase wall to work as display and storage space. These built-in cabinets flank a basement bar area.

    Take Advantage of Space Under the Stairs

    Take advantage of space under stairs to create accessible storage. Mullioned glass-pane doors make this smart understair hideaway look as if it's always been there. Baskets placed on the shelves are stylish storage solutions for miscellaneous things that make their way down to the basement.

    Design for a Smooth Transition

    Stairs are a transitional space, and the materials you choose for them convey a subliminal message about the character of the space they lead to. This run of carpeted stairs changes near the bottom to three steps with thick stone treads and floors of stone and dark wood. The shift in materials suits the basement's function as a wine cellar and entertaining area.

    Stencil the Stairs

    Personalize ordinary wood stairs with stencils. These stair treads were painted with homemade stencils using floor-and-deck enamel. For safety, avoid high-gloss paints and finishes that may be slippery.

    Add Style with a Custom Stair Rail

    For continuity, the same stone tile used on the stairs continues in the guest suite in this basement. The custom-crafted stair rail features stained-glass inserts and ornaments. Work with a metalsmith to design a custom stair rail for your home.

    Make a Grand Descent

    This sweeping staircase is more about design than function. A staircase like this makes for a comfortable descent from the upper level, but it also requires a lot of space.

    Go Contemporary with Open Stair Treads

    Open stair treads and railings of braided stainless-steel cable help preserve lower-level views and a feeling of openness on the staircase.

    Save Space with a Spiral Staircase

    Spiral stairs provide contemporary style and usually take up less room than other staircase designs. Typically 4 to 6 feet in diameter, they need little floor space.
    Bear in mind, however, that you won't be able to move furniture or other large objects into the basement via spiral stairs. Building codes often prohibit spiral staircases leading to rooms larger than 400 square feet.

    Scotts Contracting is available for the Construction of your basement Project. . . supplies free Green Estimates for every Project.


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