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Finishing a Basement

Category Basement
Finishing a Basement
Turning a basement in to useful living space can make your life more comfortable and add value to your home. This guide is about finishing a basement.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
February 21, 2011

My husband, two kids 11 and 6 and I are moving in with my mom. We are very excited! My husband and I are going to have our bedroom in the basement. The basement is a mess. I was wondering, instead of feeling overwhelmed, how do we start? It is a huge basement and we are excited to do this. Where do I start? Please help.

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By Mary from Danby, VT

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February 21, 20110 found this helpful

Is the basement a finished basement or is it just the bare walls and ceiling. If it is unfinished you will have to pick the area that you want your bedroom and then frame it in with 2x4s then either use dry wall or paneling of some kind. If there are some plain cement block or poured cement walls, some people leave them as is and just paint them----if I were doing it I would want to dry wall or panel the cement walls too. For the ceiling some people put in what is called a drop ceiling and some dry wall it. Myself I would prefer the drywall. If you want the bedroom to be legal you will have to have an egress window or a door to the outside. For more detailed advice I would suggest talking to a contractor or your home improvement store or lumber yard. Go into this with an idea of what you want to spend.

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February 21, 20110 found this helpful

I was thinking about the egress situation (you have to have a way to escape in case of fire) like the other poster, but I'm guessing you're talking about getting the basement cleaned out first, right?

My suggestion is to go to FlyLady - she's great at giving you motivation and ideas about decluttering and tackling those big jobs. http://www.flylady.net/index.asp

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February 21, 20110 found this helpful

The first thing you need to do is "claim" your area. From the way you described it there is alot of stuff in the basement. Choose what section you want to make into your bedroom area. Then start at the door outside or the stairs and begin sorting, stacking and throwing out everything from the exit to the bedroom area. You might want to make specific piles: yard sale, holiday, trash, give away, garage/shed, etc. Once you make it to the bedroom area begin removing the clutter from that area with the same process you used for the clutter to get there. Once you have your area claimed you can start with the previous recommendations.

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You also need to consider the humidity of the basement. Some basements need a humidifier to reduce mold and mildew (helps if you have allergies too). If there is a wood stove in the basement you may not want your sleeping area close to it ang getting very hot. Of course if there is a bathroom in the basement you may want your sleeping area close or next to it. If it has a cold floor you may want to consider getting a remnant from a carpet store to cover the floor from the steps to your area and maybe even your area.

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Anonymous
February 22, 20110 found this helpful

Good ideas here already but I'd like to add that you should make sure you also have a working smoke detector in the basement and, especially if the furnace, etc. are in the basement and are run on anything other than electric, to also install a carbon monoxide detector. Have fun with your new adventure. :-)

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February 23, 20110 found this helpful

As a professional cleaner, I would recommend pick one spot to start then work in a circle around the room, picking an area to put storage bins, and start working, this works great for me.

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February 23, 20110 found this helpful

I either work from the center out, meaning you don't have to crawl or lean over things on the floor to get to "like things".

Or, I take the garbage out first, then set up a chair with three boxes close...store, sell, donate. Keep putting things in all three, then keep going. You will be amazed at how easy it is to get into a rythmn!

Good luck!

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February 23, 20110 found this helpful

It's like eating an elephant; one bite at a time! I've been in your shoes, and my advice is to put on some upbeat music, and start with just one shelf, or one spot then go for it! Good luck!

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February 23, 20110 found this helpful

Check out www.flylady.com as she has lots of ideas for how to get rid of clutter without feeling overwhelmed. One idea central to her philosophy is to use a timer and work 15 min. at a time. Good luck and have fun!

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February 26, 20110 found this helpful

My suggestion is to clean out the garage if need be to make room for garage sale items. This way you can organize anything worth anything into a garage sale. This will help pay for some renovations and help out in the process of making the space yours. Since the space is so large I would suggest putting in an area for family time with possibly a kitchenette area so you and your kids can get away and have your own family space. This set up worked for us when my Mom moved in with us. Good luck, it can be an exciting time, enjoy!

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February 12, 2008

I want to fix up a room in my basement for my kids to hang out/play in. Currently it is an unfinished basement, but we do have rooms framed up. The exterior walls are insulated with plastic sheeting over the insulation. We cannot afford a traditional basement finish. Does anyone have ideas for an inexpensive fix up to make the basement more warm and inviting to be in? (ie: wall treatment, flooring etc.) Would love to see before and after pics from anyone who has done this.

Terrie from Twin cities

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February 12, 20080 found this helpful

How about sheets or fabric for the walls? And painting the floor a solid color and doing some type of faux rugs with stencils or free hand painting? If you can get your hands on lot's of ad type of CD's, put small hole in top and bottom of each and string them together to make "beaded" wall hangings to cover the walls..these could also be painted or covered with fabric or colored paper...hope this helps :0)

Maggie in Bloomoington, MN

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February 13, 20080 found this helpful

I like Maggie's ideas. Another idea could be to start hanging your children's artwork to build the "walls", depending on how old they are.

If you have cement block exposed, you could prime and paint that as well. We made a toy room in our old house and I painted the cement wall bright sunflower yellow to brighten it up down there. I hung large childrens posters all over-- trying to mask the darkness down there. You could even get some posters from a movie store and do a Hollywood Box Office game room theme.

I also hung Xmas lights in the open trusses of the ceiling.... just to be whimsical and draw away from the ductwork and framework. You could do regular ones or you could pick up some of the "garden" ones that you see that are more decorative.

You can get large 8x5 flat industrial rugs at Walmart for about $20- they aren't soft but a little warmer than cement on bare toes!

Good luck! I'm curious to see what others come up with since our current basement is also unfinished.

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February 13, 20080 found this helpful

Call a local appliance store and ask if you can get some refrigerator boxes. Open them out and they can be stapled to the wall studs to contain the area a little bit. Use the wide masking tape where the edges come together. Then invite your kids to design/paint the "walls". Look for mis-matched cans of paint on clearance where they sell paints; usually you can get some really nice paints for very little $$.

Be careful with the stings of lights--most say on that little tag on the cord that they should be discarded after 1000 hours of use. I expect they'd be fine, as long as they're turned off when no one is down there paying attention.

Ask at a local carpet store about getting some sample squares. They can usually be had for very little money, as well. You can use double-stick carpet tape (you may need to vacuum and wash a cement floor before the tape will stick effectively) to make a "patchwork" carpet.

In addition to lights at the ceiling, you could staple old sheets (thrift store) up as a "ceiling". The lighter color will help carry light; as well as hide insulation, etc. Put some hooks in the studs there, and you can hang "art", models the kids may have made, and so on.

There are some websites out there that show how to make inexpensive gadgets and furnishings with PVC pipe--which can be addictive--kind of like Tinkertoys for adults and older kids!

Bear in mind this is for you children--don't worry about colors and matching--go with what they like. The more they help "make" the room, the more invested they will be in keeping it tidy and nice! And when they outgrow the motifs used, time for a do-over!

Have fun. They won't forget it.

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 13, 20080 found this helpful

I am loving these ideas so far! Thanks so much for your responses. I especially like the cardboard idea for walls. Now I just need to find some time to dive into this project :)

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 13, 20080 found this helpful

It sounds like you are ahead of the game if you have the framed part up and the insulation in. It probably wouldn't cost that much to drywall it, or you could even buy the inexpensive panel boards (in a white color) and put them over the studs.

We have an unfinished basement, I painted the walls and floor a cream color and then put area rugs around to warm the toes. We also bought a halogen light strip, like track lighting, that you plug in, then we bought the "plug in" extender for our single bulb fixtures and plugged the track light into it and hung it from the ceiling. Really brightened the room up! It looks like a "real" family room now! We also use a little osculating electric heater to warm it up!

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February 14, 20080 found this helpful

Can you hang cloth room dividers from the ceiling? The bottom of the cloth had a curtain rod sewn in a pocket to make it hang straight. I saw that on a tv decorating show (Rachael Ray) a long time ago. The dividers could also be shifted sideways to permit access to open shelving storage and the laundry area.

Also, an area rug with matching pillows always cozies up a room. You could buy a set of sheets on clearance and recover throw pillows - that way they all match and all you had to do was sew up some seams. I bought a lovely set of sheets, but needed some matching pillowcases which were not available. Bought a sheet that matched and made pillowcases from it. Visit your local thrift store for decorator items and then clean them very thoroughly before using. Or even go to a discount store (TJ Max, Marshall's, Big Lots...), and look carefully for obvious flaws in the merchandise. Every now and then they have a special buy of slightly defective brand name items. Some are more defective than others. But in a basement for the kids, no one will object.

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November 24, 20090 found this helpful

When we planned to sell our previous house we took an unfinished basement and painted the walls and floors (sounds obvious, but it made a huge difference) and then added carpet remnants in one area to make it look like a kid's playroom. I think lighting is key because it does get dark in a basement. I also like the fabric idea. And, perhaps try a home improvement store to see if they do free classes on how to hang drywall. (Perhaps trade off helping a friend with a house project if he helps you).

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June 2, 20040 found this helpful

My basement is old and gross. The ceiling is low and there are spider webs all over the place. I would like to turn my basement into a part of my home I don't mind going in. Any ideas how I can fix it up and get rid of the old, gross look.

Thanks, Rhonda from Pennsylvania

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By guest client (Guest Post)
June 3, 20040 found this helpful

The first thing you have to do is clean the heck out of it. Then you will know what you have to work with and just getting something cleaned up will make you feel better about it and ignite your imagination. I am not sure what your walls are like but painting the walls and ceiling would a light color would make all the difference in the world. And getting some carpet on the floor would help a ton. Also Ikea has some pretty cheap wood flooring. It's easy to install and comes in various colors.

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June 6, 20040 found this helpful

To get rid of musty odors and smells in the basement, try this. Add one to two pounds of Zeolite poured into pantyhouse and hang several bags in the basement where air can flow through. If carpet is musty, sprinkle Zeolite granules onto carpet, let set for 24 hours and vacuum up.

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By guest (Guest Post)
January 1, 20060 found this helpful

You should check out the book on basement remodeling sold at http://www.basementideas.com. It's got all the tips on how to do a complete remodel.

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By 1 found this helpful
February 13, 2013

I'm wanting to add dramatic long floor to ceiling curtains to make the room feel more roomy. However the issue is we have these ugly ledge walls. Not sure exactly what they are called, but the bottom half sticks out 7 inches more then the top half. I hate it and need ideas on how I can make this work as both the windows are right under this "ledge".

By Dephany

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By 0 found this helpful
January 2, 2010

My basement walls have cylinder blocks under thin tile, which I removed. I am looking for an inexpensive way to do my walls. Should I go back to panel? I don't use the basement except for washing clothes so I don't want to invest too much money. The blocks are old so it needs to be covered. Help, please.

By Cathy from Bayonne, NJ

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January 5, 20100 found this helpful

I don't know if it gets cold where you are, but I'm in Pa and my husband put paneling over the concrete block in our basement. He didn't use any kind of insulation and it is so cold down there. I'm having trouble doing laundry. Whatever you do, I would insulate it before you cover it up. Trust me, I get mad every time I have to go down there.

Sandy

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