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Old 01-07-2009, 01:09 AM   #1
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A few Q's on Finishing My Basement - Is there a FAQ on this?


I have a house built in 2001 with a 44'x26' basement that is partially above grade on the east 26' run but otherwise mostly beneath grade. I have no known leaks but I do have a few hairline cracks mostly in the grout path. Recently, to reduce the dust odor in the basement more than anything else, I applied Drylok everywhere.

There is one small 6' wide area that was damp because the water faucet had frozen and burst (woops) and ran for nearly four hours. I'm not very concerned about this at the moment because I don't intend to build a wall in that corner and it had dried before I applied the Drylok.

I'm probably going to buy platon sub-flooring (systemplaton.com) on two 8' x 65' spools mostly for the warmth benefits. I wish I found this stuff for the foundation ten years ago! I'm planning on putting 3/4" T&G plywood on the platon flooring. My math says it's going to run me about .80 per sqf. The slab is 4" and there is a 6mil vapor barrier between it and the 4" base, and I have no visible water issues but I love the idea of raising carpet padding off the cement pad.

So here are some questions that have cropped up as I've read many threads here over the past few days.

- Since I have drylok on the wall is there anything wrong with building with the 2x4 studs against the block? Do I need to bother with a vapor barrier? This seems to be a contentious issue.

- If I'm building my walls on a plywood subfloor I don't need to use any treated lumber for the bottom plate right?

- The interior stairs that come into the basement unfortunately end just 3' away from one of my block walls that I want to finish. What are my options here or should I just build it out with 2x4 framing and accept the narrow turn? The steel door at the bottom of my strait stairs to the basement also hinges at and opens right into the block. The pre-hung door was built right up against the darn block by the builder, so the same framing dilema exists here... Any easy tricks for this?

- Has anyone here used platon flooring? What do you think and how did you fasten it? I've read rave reviews of it.

- I intentionally worked with the builder to move the furnace and water heater to one end of the basement to give me maximum finishing dimensions. Unfortunately I didn't catch them bringing the water main in through the floor about 2.5 in from one wall and 5' from the other. It comes up about 3' and makes a 90 degree turn. The meter is between that turn and the wall.

1. Am I obsessing over the idea of lowering that 90 degree turn lower to the wall so I can try to box it in? I may take a picture of this and post it.

2. Is there a common plumbing code that says the meter must be anywhere specific such as within the first X feet after entering the home? I've considered (this is crazy) hiring a plumber to do #1 and move that meter to the other side of the basement where the furnace is to make that clicking noise get out of my potential office or entertainment room. Am I nuts?

- If I box in my furnace/water heater area how do I determine how to properly vent that room for combustion air?

- I have no cold air return vents in the basement. I've eyed up some easy ways to tap into the cold air return vents, but do I need to involve some HVAC guys? Am I going to severely alter the design of the airflow or just increase air movement in the basement?

Anyone have a list of "I wish I did that in my basement" after the fact items?

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Old 01-07-2009, 08:47 AM   #2
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A few Q's on Finishing My Basement - Is there a FAQ on this?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ossrocks View Post
I have a house built in 2001 with a 44'x26' basement that is partially above grade on the east 26' run but otherwise mostly beneath grade. I have no known leaks but I do have a few hairline cracks mostly in the grout path. Recently, to reduce the dust odor in the basement more than anything else, I applied Drylok everywhere.

There is one small 6' wide area that was damp because the water faucet had frozen and burst (woops) and ran for nearly four hours. I'm not very concerned about this at the moment because I don't intend to build a wall in that corner and it had dried before I applied the Drylok.

I'm probably going to buy platon sub-flooring (systemplaton.com) on two 8' x 65' spools mostly for the warmth benefits. I wish I found this stuff for the foundation ten years ago! I'm planning on putting 3/4" T&G plywood on the platon flooring. My math says it's going to run me about .80 per sqf. The slab is 4" and there is a 6mil vapor barrier between it and the 4" base, and I have no visible water issues but I love the idea of raising carpet padding off the cement pad.

So here are some questions that have cropped up as I've read many threads here over the past few days.

- Since I have drylok on the wall is there anything wrong with building with the 2x4 studs against the block? Do I need to bother with a vapor barrier? This seems to be a contentious issue.
Coating the wall does not nullify the treated wood requirement. But, don't frame your entire basement with treated wood to get around this. Either leave a tiny gap or see if your inspector will allow you to use strips of building felt between the wall and the stud.

- If I'm building my walls on a plywood subfloor I don't need to use any treated lumber for the bottom plate right?
Correct. Just make sure that the subfloor product you're putting down is appropriate for the intended use. I'm not familiar with that brand.

- The interior stairs that come into the basement unfortunately end just 3' away from one of my block walls that I want to finish. What are my options here or should I just build it out with 2x4 framing and accept the narrow turn? The steel door at the bottom of my strait stairs to the basement also hinges at and opens right into the block. The pre-hung door was built right up against the darn block by the builder, so the same framing dilema exists here... Any easy tricks for this?
You're required to have a 36" landing at the bottom of the stairs and nothing can encroach into that. You might consider reconfiguring the bottom of the stairs to a winder, essentially building out the bottom tread to a pie shape and turning 90* to use clear floor space as a landing.

- Has anyone here used platon flooring? What do you think and how did you fasten it? I've read rave reviews of it.
?

- I intentionally worked with the builder to move the furnace and water heater to one end of the basement to give me maximum finishing dimensions. Unfortunately I didn't catch them bringing the water main in through the floor about 2.5 in from one wall and 5' from the other. It comes up about 3' and makes a 90 degree turn. The meter is between that turn and the wall.

1. Am I obsessing over the idea of lowering that 90 degree turn lower to the wall so I can try to box it in? I may take a picture of this and post it.

2. Is there a common plumbing code that says the meter must be anywhere specific such as within the first X feet after entering the home? I've considered (this is crazy) hiring a plumber to do #1 and move that meter to the other side of the basement where the furnace is to make that clicking noise get out of my potential office or entertainment room. Am I nuts?
Most water companies will requre that the meter be located very very close to the service entrance of the water pipe. This keeps people from tapping the line upstream of the meter and stealing water. You'll need to contact them, but I bet they'll say it has to stay pretty much where it is now.

- If I box in my furnace/water heater area how do I determine how to properly vent that room for combustion air?
Need more info. What is the basement being used for? Sleeping areas or rec room? Combustion air can't be taken from a bath or bedroom. The mechanical room cannot be accessed through a bedroom either. You need 50 cubic feet of combustion air space in the mechanical room for every 1000 btu/h's of the appliances' input rating. I need to know the input ratings of the appliances. If the furnace is high-efficiency and gets its air from outdoors you don't have to count it (PVC pipe vents). So a 40,000 btu/h water heater requires 2000 cubic feet...Not to mention the furnace. Assuming your mechanical room won't pull combustion air from a bed or bath, two vent openings (one by ceiling and one by floor, size depends on btu/h's) or a louvered door is how it is done.

- I have no cold air return vents in the basement. I've eyed up some easy ways to tap into the cold air return vents, but do I need to involve some HVAC guys? Am I going to severely alter the design of the airflow or just increase air movement in the basement?
This answer is very dependent on your system's design. Pretty hard to answer without seeing it and doing some calc's. I'd really suggest involving an HVAC company to have them do some figuring before you start cutting holes.

Anyone have a list of "I wish I did that in my basement" after the fact items?
Hope this helps!

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Old 01-07-2009, 10:48 AM   #3
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A few Q's on Finishing My Basement - Is there a FAQ on this?


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Originally Posted by ossrocks View Post
- If I'm building my walls on a plywood subfloor I don't need to use any treated lumber for the bottom plate right?

I would consider doing the treated bottom plate anyway. What is the downside? A very small amount of extra money. What if your basement ever floods - like an 1" of water is in it (or even less). Above the platon. And subfloor gets wet. Then the bottom plate gets wet - either because the water hit it or it soaks up water from the subfloor. I dunno just seems like really cheap insurance.

- Has anyone here used platon flooring? What do you think and how did you fasten it? I've read rave reviews of it.

I'm using it right now. Unfortunately I decided to build my walls first so I have to cut it out to fit within each room. It cuts real easily with a box cutter though. Anyway I really like it so far. I wish I had done it before my walls. It would go REALLY fast with nothing to cut around. There really isn't any fastening involved on the platon itself, except at the overlaps and there are instructions for that. I am tapconning down the OSB I'm putting on top of it.

I think you'll find it's a much easier install then you imagine. Sorta like building with legos. But definately get the wide rolls.

The area's I've finished with it thus far are very nice. Very solid.


1. Am I obsessing over the idea of lowering that 90 degree turn lower to the wall so I can try to box it in? I may take a picture of this and post it.

Well I don't know what to tell you about your water meter but I obsess about a lot of things in my basement too. I rented a jackhammer to relocate the shower drain. I lifted half the house on temporary supports to install new beams to eliminate 3 feet of load bearing wall. I put in a subpanel to support future wiring. I spent over a month disassembling my entire ductwork system, modifying literally every single piece of ductwork in my house, in an effort to quiet it down and provide good circulation to the new finished space. This including building 6 insulated return plenums to trap the sound. Last night I installed 3 Insteon dimmers which resulted in 8 neutral wires (plus 2 jumpers) in a 3 gang box.

I could go on. All things no contractor would have done - too much work. Too little benefit. Just live with it, they'd say. The nice thing about finishing your own basement is you get to obsess about these things, then actually fix them the way you WANT to. Rather then obsess about them, then have a contractor try to talk you out of fixing them because he thinks its too much work, then finishes the work his way, and you spend the rest of the time you live there continuing to obsess about them.

The ductwork stuff I did in my basement - no one else in a 75 mile radius would touch with a 10 foot pole, I guarentee it. It was crazy. It was dumb. It was way too much work. I couldn't pay someone 100 dollars an hour to do it. Ya know what, I did it, and every now I'm really happy that I did it. No one else will ever notice it. Only me. And now instead of obsessing about the sound of my furnace, every once in a while I just get a happy feeling that I can hardly hear it. I'm done obsessing about it. So I feel ya - it's ok. Obsess now, fix it, be happy.

- If I box in my furnace/water heater area how do I determine how to properly vent that room for combustion air?

Already sorta covered, but this is a code requirement. You can find it under the mechanical codes as well as under the natural gas codes. If you don't want to put a louver in the door, you can also cut holes in your wall and run ductwork from outside into the furnace room (not directly to the appliances). This was one of those things I obsessed about. Didn't want sound escaping thru the louvered door, so I spent 3 days trying to figure out how to cut 6" holes thru my exterior wall, then gettin' er done. Plus more time putting the ductwork in. Sigh. Maybe I am crazy??

- I have no cold air return vents in the basement. I've eyed up some easy ways to tap into the cold air return vents, but do I need to involve some HVAC guys? Am I going to severely alter the design of the airflow or just increase air movement in the basement?

It'll actually help your equipment. You can do it yourself. Get familiar with duct paste / caulk (mastic) and a pair of tin snips. Wear gloves at all times. Be prepared to (literally) spill some blood over this one. The nice thing about the little cuts is they heal fast.

Anyone have a list of "I wish I did that in my basement" after the fact items?
I'll get back to you in about 2 months on that last one.

Biggest regret so far - misjudging both the time and money involved. I put a hefty fudge factor into my budget but still missed by a decent amount. Wife is not happy about that. Never ever came close to fathoming the time and pure amount of work involved. Probably 300% longer and harder then I would have conservatively guessed. Wife is not happy about that either.

If only she would realize how much quieter the ductwork is....
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:50 AM   #4
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A few Q's on Finishing My Basement - Is there a FAQ on this?


thekctermite: thanks! I will look up some more info on the furnace specs. I don't intend to make anything a bedroom so I may be fine there. Lots of good info but I'm confused on this:

Quote:
Coating the wall does not nullify the treated wood requirement.


I'm really confused on what is the "right" way to frame the outer block walls. Do they get pushed up against the block, do you put a barrier between the block and the veritcal studs, etc?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garasaki View Post
Biggest regret so far - misjudging both the time and money involved. I put a hefty fudge factor into my budget but still missed by a decent amount.
I'm actually in the planning stages and calculating lumber, drywall, plywood, lighting, etc. requirements in a spreadsheet. What areas did you under estimate? I can imagine the whole time aspect. I spent the better part of six days off over the holiday hand brushing drylok and I'm not done yet

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garasaki View Post
I would consider doing the treated bottom plate anyway. What is the downside? A very small amount of extra money. What if your basement ever floods - like an 1" of water is in it (or even less). Above the platon. And subfloor gets wet. Then the bottom plate gets wet - either because the water hit it or it soaks up water from the subfloor. I dunno just seems like really cheap insurance.
I see your point but if this happened wouldn't I need to cut out and replace the water damaged plywood sandwiched between the platon and the bottom plate? I've always been hesitant to put treated lumber in the house but I guess as long as its not arsenic treated it won't be any worse than the pieces already on top of the block

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garasaki View Post
Anyway I really like it so far. I wish I had done it before my walls. It would go REALLY fast with nothing to cut around. There really isn't any fastening involved on the platon itself, except at the overlaps and there are instructions for that. I am tapconning down the OSB I'm putting on top of it.

I think you'll find it's a much easier install then you imagine. Sorta like building with legos. But definately get the wide rolls.
I found a place in Indiana that only stocks the 8'x65' rolls and has a 2 roll minimum, but they'll ship it to me for free. I believe it was $220 per roll so it'll cost me $440 for 1040' feet. When you say get the wide rolls are you talking about the 10' ?

I'm actually hoping to do the platon flooring part soon but my wife wants to "see" it, so if you have any scrap pieces let me know ;-)

Last edited by ossrocks; 01-07-2009 at 12:02 PM.
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:11 PM   #5
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A few Q's on Finishing My Basement - Is there a FAQ on this?


I missed the most on electrical and plumbing. Oh and final flooring. The crazy thing is I do construction cost estimating for a living (well it's part of my job... )

Figure 50 bucks per recessed light fixture. Figure out how much wire you think you need and multiply by 2.5 or 3. Crazy as it is, it takes about 20' of wire to go up and down a wall. So if you have a run that runs 10' in plan view, it will end up taking probably over 30' of wire to run in the field. The price of wire fluctuates greatly. It's about 40% lower now then when I started. I 'spect it'll go back up.

Good light fixtures or ceiling fans will put you back 300 bucks a piece. Or you can buy cheapo stuff from the borg at 1/10 of the cost.

Figure a shower will set you back 500 or so (remember you gotta get it in the front door, which rules out 1 piece units, the cheapest alternative - don't ask me how I know).

Lumber's cheap compared to everything else. But you'll use more then you think. There's lots of studs you'll need to double up. And the top and bottom plates eat up a lot of footage. Sheet goods (drywall, plywood) are easy to estimate.

I didn't have any money in for ductwork changes.

Flooring is way more then you think. 4 bucks a sf will buy you decent carpet.

Don't forget cabinets. Countertops. Mirrors. Paint (30 bucks a gallon and a gallon only covers maybe 300 SF of surface - do the math). These things cost way more then I'd have thought. And I forgot em to start with.

There's always cheaping out on stuff - carpet, lights, plumbing stuff - but my opinion is why spend all this time and money only to put the cheapest light fixture on the shelf in? Quality shows and you get what you pay for.

Builders carpet for instance - saves you a bunch of money and looks good for about a year and a half...

Anyway, you may think I'm crazy, but I'd suggest throughly doing a detailed budget - then doubling it.
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:14 PM   #6
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A few Q's on Finishing My Basement - Is there a FAQ on this?


Menard's carries the 7' wide rolls of platon, for basically the price you just mentioned. It's not with the flooring and stuff. It's by the builders desk with a lot of the roofing or siding stuff. And it's something they keep in the yard so they only have 1 on display then you grab a ticket.

There is also platon in a 3.5' wide (I think) roll that's exactly the same product. THe 7' roll is marketed as the foundation waterproofer. But it's the same thing. And a bit cheaper. And way less overlapping.

Hopefully there is a menards nearby. If not, I think orange or blue carry it too - one or the other does. I'm not sure which.

EDIT oh yeah I have plenty of scrap. To be honest I can't promise to ship any soon (too busy trying to finish) but I could post pictures. Or if you have a menards nearby, just go see it in person.

I was able to fit 2 of the 7 foot rolls in my car. 97 accord 4 door. But only juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust barely and I spent 30 minutes in the cold and snow figuring out how to do it. Would have rather just taken the pickup and payed a bit more for gas...
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:21 PM   #7
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A few Q's on Finishing My Basement - Is there a FAQ on this?


Dont' forget tools either. 100 bucks dosent buy you much in the way of tools and you'll need several if you don't already have em.

Having the right tool saves a lot of time and frustration too.

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