Do NOT Copy

Do NOT Copy

Framing Basement Walls

A good friend of mine has some problems with her basement and is on the lookout for tips on how to frame in basement walls. Cheesehead and I have finished 3 basements now so this is right up my alley. I am just including some general directions here although I will be happy to answer any questions you may have for me.

When framing in a basement wall, you want to make sure that the walls are waterproof. You can tell if you have moisture in your cement surface by taping all four edges of a piece of plastic to various cement surfaces. If moisture accumulates between the plastic and cement you have a moist basement. I'm no expert so if you have the money it would be best to consult a professional on how to keep the water out. Many times if there is a white chalky substance on the walls you have had water penetration at some point. The is called effusion. There may also be rust or other water stains, so be observant.

Our house in BL had some water leakage in the areas that faucets ran outside, it was easily visible because the walls showed some water staining from the rust in our water. After checking the foundation for cracks and filling them with caulk, we brushed on a waterproofing paint called drylok directly on the concrete. It needs to be allowed to dry before you cover over it with any insulation or other substances.

Once your walls are waterproof, you're ready to proceed with your framing.

Before you start, make a plan. Measure you area carefully and gather your materials together. We used a chalk line, chalk, plumb bob, level, two ladders, hammer or framing nailer, nails (about 2 1/2 inches long), and tape measure. Not all of those things are necessary if you are only doing exterior walls, although you'll need a level, a tape measure, and a ladder no matter what. Pen and paper are also handy. We drew out plans and wrote down the room measurements to take with to the store to help us figure out how much wood we would need. Pick wood pieces that are straight.

You will want length measurements for both the floor and ceiling boards and height measurements in many different areas. This is because basement floors are not made completely level (on purpose to allow better drainage).

When using wood in the basement it is best to get treated wood (referred to as green treated) for the bottom horizontal piece that is in contact with the cement. This way, if any water does penetrate the concrete underneath this lumber will not rot or warp. This also meets most building codes. Most people use 2x4s, although thicker woods may also be used on exterior walls to accommodate thicker insulation. This is particularly useful in decreasing you heating and cooling costs if you live in colder areas of the world.

Do not place any floor boards where you wish to have doors. Leave an additional 2 1/2 inch clearing for your door openings (sides and top) to allow room for both the door and it's frame to fit in once it's finished.

Many people use heavy duty nails to attach these bottom plates to the cement. That is not entirely necessary. We used PL 400 which is a heavy duty construction adhesive, that way we didn't have to penetrate the cement allowing more sources for moisture to come into our house. If you do use construction adhesive it must cure or at least 24 hours before proceeding with the next steps. We applied a thick wavy line of adhesive to the wood, laid it where we wanted it to be, stuck it to the ground, lifted it back up and replaced it to add extra adhesion. To make sure that the boards were completely secured to the floor, we weighted the boards down with heavy objects.

The ceiling boards are installed directly above the bottom plates. A plumb bob is useful to help with alignment before boards are attached. We used screws for this because they can be removed if we installed it a bit off of the mark. It was also easier than trying to use a hammer and nails above our heads. It is helpful to mark where you want to lay the pieces with a pen prior to putting up your board as they are known to shift somewhat while being attached.

Once the ceiling boards are in place, you install the vertical beams. We measured and marked where these boards would sit on the floor boards prior to placing them. A 16 inch scrap may be used to cut down on the constant measuring. These are placed 16 inches on center. That means the middle of one board is 16 inches from the center of the next. Make sure to measure the height of each opening at least every few boards as this may change from one area of the basement to another. These boards should be the same width as the base boards. There should not be any wood hanging over the edges of the floor or ceiling boards, this may cause the walls to be off level. Line the piece up and check that it's level on both the front side (facing into the room) as well as the inside (facing the next stud). These boards are toe-nailed in. This is nailed at an angle on the left, right, and front side of (also back if it's an interior wall) to the board on both the top and the bottom plates.

If there are doors in your layout, they may throw the measurements off a bit. They should not be more than 16 inches from the next board on either side of the opening.

You will need header boards above doors. These are horizontal pieces of wood that go from the door's left stud to the door's right stud that reinforce the door's opening. Don't forget to add the vertical pieces above the header board. It might not be a bad idea to install more than one of these above a door though I don't know any code that would require it.

Window openings are similar to door openings, except there is a floor board under the window. The vertical boards are placed where they should normally be measured to be as if it were a regular wall. The ends should be cut off enough to accommodate a piece of wood that connects each piece of wood on the top side just below the window opening. Frame above the window just as you would above a door.

Thank you for stopping by. Please leave me a message. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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