Finishing a Basement

Finishing a Basement is a Great Winter Home Remodeling Project

By Mark J. Donovan

Increasingly home buyers are looking for homes with finished basements or lower levels. Consequently finishing a basement is a great solution for adding more living space to your home, while at the same time increasing its value.

Finished basements can offer significant increases and utility in a home’s living space by providing large private spaces for recreation rooms, guest rooms, gyms, entertainment centers, game rooms and even finished wine cellars.

In addition, finished basement remodeling projects are less expensive than external home additions and present fewer issues when obtaining permits since exterior or excavation work is rarely necessary. They are also excellent do it yourself winter projects. In some cases a finished basement can nearly double the living area of a home, as may be the case with a single story home.

Before embarking on a finished basement project it is wise to first determine your finished basement objectives, including such items as key features, budget and schedule. In addition, it is important to make sure the basement can support a finished living space. For example, basement water or moisture problems need to be completely and permanently resolved prior to starting a basement remodeling project.

Major basement remodeling items that should also be thoroughly considered as part of the planning process include lighting, flooring, utility rooms and mechanical access, ceilings, and plumbing.

Basement Lighting

To really make a finished basement warm and inviting, include plenty of basement lighting. Basement remodeling lighting ideas include the generous use of can lights, sconces and halogen lighting.

Natural lighting is also helpful. During the rough framing phase of your basement remodeling project, consider adding additional windows in knee walls or walk out basement walls.

 Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet

Basement Flooring

There are a number of basement flooring options that can be considered, including the use of wood flooring and carpeting. However water or moisture issues have to be addressed first. When installing wood floors, it is necessary to install a wood subfloor over the concrete basement floor using a network of sleepers (pressure treated 2x4s) and 3/4th inch tongue and groove plywood or OSB. A plastic sheathing moisture barrier should also be installed between the wood subfloor and the concrete basement floor to reduce moisture risks.

Basement Utility Rooms

Inevitably a portion of your basement will need to be left unfinished, or at least it won’t make sense to finish it. Areas in particular include around furnaces, oil tanks, and water storage tanks. For these areas it is best to integrate the mechanical equipment into utility rooms with large access doors. It is important to have large doors to these rooms so that mechanical equipment can easily be accessed and replaced when required. Also, it is important to remember that furnaces need air to operate. As a result, a separate exterior air intake system to the furnace may need to be installed.

Finishing a basement is a great way to obtain more finished living space.

Basement Ceilings

There are three main basement ceiling choices to consider when finishing a basement. They include drywall ceilings, dropped ceilings and “Industrial Look” ceilings. With drywall ceilings it is necessary to plan ahead for providing access points to upper level plumbing traps and valves. Dropped ceilings, on the other hand, are excellent for providing easy access to plumbing traps and valves, and they have come a long way in recent years in regards to aesthetics and styles. With the Industrial look, the basement ceiling is simply spray painted as-is.

Bathrooms and/or Wet Bars in Finished Basements

Including a bathroom and/or wet bar in a finished basement are great basement room additions, however they present their own unique set of problems. In particular, they require the installation of waste water lines in the basement flooring, and potentially the installation of a pump-up ejector system and modification to the septic design. When installing a new drain system in a basement, concrete floors need to be cut. Cutting concrete basement floors is a messy, dusty and noisy endeavor and should be one of the first projects tackled in a finished basement project.

Though a finished basement or finished lower level project has its issues and requires careful planning, today’s housing market trends suggests that finished basements / lower levels are highly sought after. Consequently, if done right, a finished basement is a great investment and can be a real asset to your home’s long term equity.

For more help on Basement Additions, see’s Basement Remodeling Bid sheet. The Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet will help ensure that your hire the right contractor so that your basement remodeling project is done correctly and you get the project finished on time and budget.

Related Information

Get Free Basement Remodeling Price Quotes with No Obligation!

Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a free price quote on basement remodeling from one of our prescreened and licensed basement remodeling contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to continue once you receive your basement remodeling price estimate.