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Tips for Basement Remodeling

Basements are the most versatile areas of the home because you can tailor the space to fit any need you have. It’s an excellent way to add value to any home and increase the usable square footage of your home without undergoing the process of building an addition onto your home. No matter the project you decide upon, installing additional electrical outlets, plumbing, and waterproofing are very important areas to begin with.

Common Issues with basement remodels:

  • Insufficient lighting, both natural and artificial

  • Adequate insulation for heat, cooling

  • Controlling moisture, humidity, flooding, molds, and fungus

  • Proper ventilation, to prevent any issues with radon

  • Rerouting ductwork, plumbing, and electrical

Game Rooms and Play Rooms

Basements are usually wide-open areas that have a lot of square footage, making them perfect for game rooms and children’s play rooms. It’s a great way for children to run and play around in a main area of the home without adding clutter to the living room. A carpeted or padded flooring will provide safety from falling. Recessed lighting is a great addition to a children’s play area, making the room brighter and reducing the risk of breakage because the lights are not hanging from the ceiling, they are protected because they are housed inside the ceiling. Another great idea is adding covers to electrical outlets, especially with younger children.

Home Entertainment Theaters

Many homeowners spend a lot of time and money selecting a great tv and sound system for their basements but take little time to consider the design and furniture to accommodate the electronic equipment. Make sure to select or build furniture that will hold the wires necessary for the electronic equipment. Dangling wires are not only unattractive, they can also be a fire hazard. Ventilation systems are also very important for home theaters in the basement. Electronic equipment can overheat and will be permanently damaged without proper ventilation.

Basement Bar Areas

Any basement can be transformed into a bar with anything from a simple bar area with refrigerator to something more elaborate with running water, a wine fridge, dishwasher, and microwave. Lighting is one of the most important parts of a home bar. The mood and overall atmosphere will be affected by the lighting you choose to install. A climate controlled wine cellar can also be installed in confined spaces, making a great addition to any bar, without taking up valuable space.

Basement Lighting

One of the most commonly cited problems in basement spaces is the lack of natural light. But with some careful planning and creative lighting design, even this seemingly fatal flaw can be corrected. As you plan for basement lighting, remember you will likely need more light than in other places of the home because the basement is located below grade, natural light does not provide the baseline ambient light that is found in the aboveground floors. That doesn’t mean, however, that the quantity should rule over quality in basement lighting design. Tricking the eye to see natural light is one way to make a basement space feel more inviting. To supplement the light that would typically come from a window, consider washing the walls with light, using recessed can lights close to the walls, or even energy-efficient fluorescent linear fixtures hidden in a cove.

When choosing your lighting, think about the room vertically, considering the effect each level will have on the room’s feel. The light is best created in layers: ambient or general lighting, task or specific lighting, and accent or decorative lighting. Soffit lighting and bookcase lighting are great enhancers for accent lighting, and torchiere’s work especially well in corners since they bounce light up the corner and across the ceiling. Finally, when choosing your fixtures, think not only about the light they give out but also their look in relation to your space. Shorter lamps or lamps that have stout/squat bases with wide shades will look more natural and more fitting in conversation areas. Choosing both bulbs and fixtures carefully will accentuate your space. Consider using warmer fixture colors, which will of course make the whole space feel warmer and more inviting. If fluorescent lamps are used, find the lamp with the highest CRI (Color Rendering Index). This will give the room the most natural feel.

Insulating the Basement

Insulation separates the cool foundation walls from the mild interior, creating a much more comfortable living area at a low cost, making heating and cooling the basement easier and cheaper. The best type of basement insulation is generally some type of rigid polystyrene glued directly against the foundation wall. Insulation joints should be sealed with mastic and mesh tape so warm, moist basement air will not come into contact with the cool basement foundation wall, which can create mold problems. Rigid insulation glued to the outside foundation usually works best for new homes. A 6-inch gap needs to be left between the top of the outside insulation and any wood construction or termites can use the insulation as a pathway to the home.

Basement Flooring Options

There are many flooring options, but any option adding a subfloor above concrete will help to make it more comfortable and it will keep the finished floor away from direct contact with the cool concrete. This will soften and warm the finished floor, as well as keep it dry and if it gets wet from a spill will allow it to dry out. You can apply almost any type of finished floor on top of the subfloor: bamboo, wood, carpet, linoleum or tile. Before installing your flooring, caulk all of the cracks in the floor to minimize moisture problems. You should Avoid installing carpet directly on basement concrete, since wet carpet is a perfect home for mold. If you are on a tight budget and the floor doesn’t have inherent dampness problems, use carpet without an attached underpadding. A separate rubber based underpadding resists humidity more effectively and will dry more easily if flooding occurs.

Leaving the floor unfinished is a great option for rooms where the hard, cool feel of concrete isn’t an issue, such as workshops, exercise rooms, and laundry rooms. Moisture and flooding aren’t as big a problem with concrete, and cleanup and maintenance are much easier than carpeting and even hardwood. You can warm up concrete flooring by installing radiant floor heating in the slab. Radiant floor heating uses hot water coils or heat generating electrical wires installed beneath the concrete. This method of heating is very comfortable because it doesn’t blow hot air and will prevent some dust from floating in the air.

Wall and Ceiling Options for the Basement

When your basement project is ready for walls, the studs shouldn’t touch the foundation wall because they can absorb moisture from the wall. They should be set against rigid foam insulation that covers the wall. Before the finishing interior wall is installed, your contractor should provide wiring for electrical outlets, light switches, internet, and phone outlets. New paperless drywall is another option if your budget has the room for it. It’s highly mold-resistant, making it great for basements and even bathrooms. Acoustic tiles are a great choice for basement ceilings. You’ll be able to access plumbing and electrical wiring without having to demolish parts of the ceiling, and the individual panels can be easily replaced if water is leaking from above. Acoustic panels work well for both walls and ceilings, especially if you plan on using your basement as a home theater or music room. Installing acoustic beats between wall studs and ceiling joists and covering them with acoustic panels will add two layers of drywall with offset joints.

Painting in the Basement

The key with a basement is really warming up the space to make it an inviting environment. No matter what function the room will serve, going with colors on the warm end of the spectrum is a good choice. No matter if it’s a home theater or a children’s play area, starting with a warm color will really make the space much more livable, noting that colors like a light caramel or a warm ivory can soften the glare from all the lighting without making the room feel enclosed while yellows might tend to look dingy.

Because basements are often huge, undefined spaces, using paint to delineate areas of the room can make the room more livable by making different sections serve clear purposes. We try to use paint to visually section off different areas of play. Creating activity spaces for the kids can make it more fun for them, and it can also help keep the room more organized. We don’t forget the details when we are finishing your new basement space. Because of the sub-level nature of the room, people often neglect finishes they would put in other areas of the house. And finally, don’t be afraid to express your decorating personality. Because basements do present unique challenges, homeowners are often afraid to do anything too daring with the room. That’s the wrong idea if you want to make people think about the room rather than its location.

Water Damage Restoration and Emergency Flood Control

Basements are prone to flood and water damage that leads to fungal and bacterial contamination and may damage structural components in your home. Too much exposure may cause or increase symptoms of asthma, hay fever, and allergen based conditions. Depending on the amount of exposure and personal vulnerability, more serious health effects can occur. With severe storm weather flooding its obvious when your home may be at risk. Other times it’s harder to find evidence of water damage and a thorough inspection is necessary. You can also install sump pumps, catch basin and drain tiles throughout your basement, depending on your needs. These additional precautionary can be completed by our team before any sort of basement remodeling is started.

Gyms and Fitness Areas

Creating a space to workout is one of the simplest transformations in basement areas. A major issue with home gyms in the basement is poor ventilation and waterproofing. Having moisture in your basement with poor ventilation will breed mold and mildew. This can be a major health hazard because when exercising you will be breathing heavily. Adding a padded flooring or workout mat is also very important because concrete has been known to induce foot and ankle injuries. Mounting mirrors on the walls and using brightly colored paints can help make the room brighter and make your workout area seem larger.


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