Insulating Basement Walls
An insulated basement makes the space more comfortable and helps keep upper floors warmer too. Rigid foam is available in both urethane and polystyrene (plastic foam) in thicknesses from 1/2 inch to 2 inches. Urethane is more expensive but is easier to work with and is the better insulator. Both are flammable and must be covered by 1/2 inch drywall. If you like the look of wood paneling, apply it over the drywall. If you don't want to install drywall, build a regular 2x4 stud wall and insulate with fiberglass between studs.
- INSULATE BETWEEN THE JOISTS
- TAPE PLASTIC VAPOuR BARRIER TO WALL
- NAIL FURRING STRIPS OVER VAPOuR BARRIER
- CUT PIECES TO FIT BETWEEN HORIZONTAL STRIPS
- CUT THE PANELS TO FIT BETWEEN THE STRIPS
INSULATE BETWEEN THE JOISTS
Before you insulate on the walls, insulate the spaces between the joists above the foundation. Wearing a mask and protective clothing, use a utility knife to cut fiberglass insulation to fit between the joists; pack loosely in place. Compressing insulation will reduce its ability to do its job.
TAPE PLASTIC VAPOuR BARRIER TO WALL
Tape a plastic vapour barrier to the wall to keep out moisture that may seep into the basement. The furring strips you will add in the next step will hold the plastic in place permanently.
NAIL FURRING STRIPS OVER VAPOuR BARRIER
Nail 1x3 furring strips both horizontally and vertically over the vapour barrier. The horizontal strips bridge irregularities in the wall; the vertical ones support the edge of the drywall. Nail or screw the horizontal strips in place first, spacing them so that the foam insulation will fit snugly in between.
CUT PIECES TO FIT BETWEEN HORIZONTAL STRIPS
Between the horizontal strips, and position them so that they will support the edges of the drywall. Check the grid of 1x3s with a straightedge, and shim as necessary to make sure the 1x3s form a flat surface. Also use a level to make sure the furring strips are plumb.
CUT THE PANELS TO FIT BETWEEN THE STRIPS
Cut the panels to fit between the 1x3s. Make a jig to simplify the job. Begin by screwing a wide board to a narrow board. You'll guide the saw edge away from the blade along the narrow board's edge, rather than trying to follow a drawn line.
CLAMP JIG IN PLACE WITH WIDE EDGE
To use the jig, clamp it in place with the wide edge on the layout line. Guide the saw along the narrow edge. Once you've cut the panels, tape them in place until you put up the drywall.
SECURE, TAPE AND FINISH DRYWALL
Screw the drywall in place, and tape and finish it. If you're going to apply paneling over the drywall, leave the drywall unfinished and untaped and nail the paneling over it with 3d nails.
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Skill Level: Intermediate
Time: 2 hours
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