How to Finish Your Basement

Updated June 16th, 2022
How to Finish Your Basement

When you went to view the house before buying, maybe one of the things that captivated you was the empty space in the basement. It was like a clean page begging to be filled with something wonderful. You marveled at all the possibilities. At what could become of that space.

But now, the reality is here—so many options. Do you make the whole basement a media room like your partner has been dreaming about? Or do you share the space and sneak in an extra guest bedroom for the grandma’s unannounced visits? An additional full bathroom could also be a great idea.

But what about the costs?

If this is you, here is a step-by-step guide to help you turn in converting your sunken treasure to riches.

Step 1: Prep the Area

  • Take care of mold and moisture. Before starting the process, you must ensure that you do not have excessive mold or moisture problems. Try to eliminate all mold in your basement and ensure that water cannot get in. If you cannot do so or are unsure how to, you may need to consider whether continuing would be prudent.
  • Prepare a comprehensive budget. Once you’ve determined that basement renovations are feasible, you’ll need to draw a budget to determine how much money you need for the project. Include everything from building supplies, extra hired labor, materials and equipment, and other essentials such as toilets and showers. If you’re unsure, hire a contractor or a designer to help you through the process.
  • Draw the plans. You’ll need detailed plans, much more so if you’re doing the work yourself. You’ll need to know the lengths of all the walls you’re installing, the square footage of flooring, material you’ll require, and the amount of wall space you’ll need to drywall, among other things. Create blueprints for your basement and the improvements you intend to make, and keep in mind the golden rule: measure twice, cut once!
  • Plan for any necessary permits and inspections. Obtain all required permits and inspections from your local building department before proceeding. After all that work, you don’t want to be told to take it down or worse: accidentally hit a water main while down there.

Step 2: Electrical, Plumbing, and Insulation

  • Clean out the basement and ensure to remove all items. Take everything out of the basement. Cabinets, old machines, basically everything you might be storing in the basement, take it out and into the main floor. Then thoroughly clean up everything. You want to start the project on a clean slate.
  • Do the wiring. Only attempt to do the wiring yourself if you’ve got some experience. Otherwise, you should consider getting a professional to come in and do the job. If you insist on doing it yourself, the wiring might just not work, and at the very worst, bad wiring might cause fires or electrocutes you.
  • Now the plumbing. This is the same as wiring but less dangerous. So do it only if you know what you are doing. Also, ensure to plan ahead so as not to disrupt the water systems when people are around the house.
  • Insulate and install a ceiling. Consider using soundproofing material if you will make a media room in your basement. Otherwise, a basic drop ceiling should suffice.
  • Insulate the walls. This will keep your basement warm and cozy, thereby increasing the space’s livability.

Step 4: Framing, Drywall, and Floors

  • Prepare the studs. From your initial plan, you already know where the studs will go. Studs make the skeleton of your partition walls.
  • After the studs, now add the drywall. Once the studs are up and steady, now add drywall or whatever you are using for the walling.
  • Add drywall to the ceiling (optional). If you prefer, add drywall or your finishing material to the roof. It’ll give it a nice finished surface for painting or other finishing methods you might desire.
  • Prepare the floor. Consider leaving your floor bare (this might save you a few bucks). Otherwise, install the flooring of your choice – add a carpet or build a subfloor.
  • Add doors. If you built rooms in the basement, it is time to add doors.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

  • Install crown molding. Crown molding is particularly critical if you’re finishing a basement in an older-style home. This can help the two levels appear more cohesive if the house has molding elsewhere.
  • Add baseboards and trim. Baseboards and trim contribute significantly to the appearance of a true room in your basement. Installing them is a pleasure if you can measure and cut (which you absolutely can!).
  • Consider painting the basement a lighter color. Lighter colors make spaces look bigger and brighter.
  • Try tricks that make the ceiling look higher. For example, avoid low-hanging light fixtures and ceiling fans, and paint the ceiling white.
  • Enjoy the space. Provide Mr. with the area he’s always wanted and keep him out of Mrs.’s hair. A man-cave can be an excellent option to expand a home’s gathering space. Combine this with a craft area for Mrs. or a bar area, and you’ll have a happy family!


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