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Six Tips for Basement Renovation

Dos and don’ts for creating a structurally sound, finished basement that homeowners will love

December 12, 2018
repair wall cracks in basement renovation

Carbon fiber straps may be used to repair wall cracks or bowing that’s no more than 2 inches. Before applying carbon straps, remove all paint from the wall. 

A home’s valuation is largely driven by its livable square footage, but what if the budget doesn’t allow for an addition? remodeler in a shopOne of the best ways to increase living space while not going over budget is by finishing the basement. 

Basements are vulnerable to structural stresses and moisture issues, so you must not scrimp on materials or technology. Fortunately, plenty of new-generation materials exist that can add value over the life of the home and ensure you don’t get call backs in the future. Here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to lasting, high-quality basement renovations. 

Do look for cracks

Closely inspect the foundation walls and floor for any cracks. If cracks are evident, make sure to tackle those first with a quality carbon fiber crack repair solution. 

A product with a high R-value is key: The higher the R-value, the better the material will insulate the space—a real benefit to the homeowner.

Carbon fiber is stronger than traditional steel methods, and is fairly easy to install. It provides a lasting solution to the problem and can be used in a variety of applications, including repairing cracks in the floors and walls to reinforcing bowed walls. Ensuring structural integrity is essential before tackling other elements.

Do add a subfloor

Contractors who specialize in basements must create comfortable, warm, and dry living spaces. Look for a ready-to-use engineered wood subfloor product that has a tongue and groove design for quick and easy installation. A product with a high R-value is key: The higher the R-value, the better the material will insulate the space. 

Do create a thorough design

A well-planned basement remodel requires a detailed design that’s agreed on by you and the homeowner. Sit down with the client and sketch out the room, so that you both understand and have the same vision of how the basement will fit together.

installing a subfloorDon’t build directly on top of concrete slab

Extreme weather events have increased, which also means higher numbers of flooded basements. Many homeowners are taking precautionary measures to appropriately deal with basement moisture. 

A key step to moisture prevention is air circulation, which reduces unhealthy moisture and mildew. Ventilation methods to consider include natural ones (such as windows) and mechanical methods using ducts, fans, and vents. Breathable building materials should also be used, including a good subflooring product that promotes positive airflow and keeps the finished floor raised off the concrete.

Don’t forget about energy efficiency

Homeowners renovate with energy efficiency in mind, and they want efficient materials and products to help them save money while making the home comfortable. Uninsulated or poorly insulated basements can be responsible for as much as a third of total home heat loss.

Sit down with the homeowner to envision and sketch out the room, so that you both agree on how the basement will fit together. 

Don’t leave out a good drainage system 

When homes are built, they generally include a main floor drain, but in cases where this isn’t effective, several options exist. A French drain can be introduced into a basement, but it can be costly to go through the concrete slab. Drain tiles can be installed close to the exterior of the foundation wall, but this is laborious and messy since all soil around the home must be excavated to the depth of the footings. A third and more palatable option is a sump pump, which can live inside or outside the home, and starts up automatically when the water level in the collection pit starts to rise. 

About the Author

About the Author

Bryan Baeumler is an HGTV host, professional builder, entrepreneur, and DRICORE® and Rhino Carbon Fiber® Reinforcement Products brand ambassador.



An OSB subfloor as shown in the article, from my experience seems to be a bad idea. Especially if there's a possibility of the basement flooding. Sealing the floor with a product that will adhere to the concrete slab to prevent vapor diffusion (water borne epoxy) and installing flooring over the top or installing ceramic tile. Either way if you anticipate it getting wet it seems more prudent to build accordingly. Just a thought.

Thank you for reminding me to check the foundation and the walls first for any cracks before proceeding with the basement renovation. We're thinking of converting it into a home theater so our entire family can enjoy and relax together during weekends. I'll keep your tips in mind and let our hired contractors know about our concerns.


How about some guidelines on insulation, including for walkouts where some to all of the wall is above grade and framed on top of a steeped footing that follows down the grade. Also thoughts about heating and cooling, a separate unit or zoned from the existing furnace. I did learn that duct work in the ceiling is not very effective, much better to bring ducts down the walls to floor level.

In addition to repairing any cracks in the basement walls, I highly recommend that you install polyiso insulation board between the concrete foundation wall and the stud wall. Joints in the polyiso sheets should be taped. Concrete is hygroscopic; it readily absorbs water and allows the water to move through it. This is mostly through capillary action by which water can move into very small spaces even against the force of gravity. No matter how well the outside surface of the basement wall is damp-proofed, the concrete can still wick water from the footing. And even if you find and repair any existing cracks, future cracks can develop and hydrostatic pressure can force moisture through those future cracks and through the tiny capillaries that exist in the concrete.


Thanks for informing me that we shouldn't build directly on top of our basement's concrete slab to prevent moisture from seeping in. In this way, we would be able to avoid mold and mildew. My grandparents plan to remodel their building, so I'll pass on this advice to them when I visit this Saturday. Thanks. https://www.tradesmenwyo.com

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