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andybeck 06-18-2012 08:10 AM

Finishing my basement
2 Attachment(s)
Hello all,

I have recently started to finish my basement and am almost done framing the walls and soffets. I have a few questions and want to make sure I am taking the best approach to what I have left to do.

For some background, I live in the Chicago area in an 8 year old house. The basement is half below grade. There is about a 52 inch concrete foundation wall around the exterior. For the year and a half that we have been in the house, I have noticed absolutely zero moisture in the basement and the sump pump rarely runs even during heavy storms.

I have framed the walls using treated base plates and have spaced them about 2 inches away from the foundation wall. I used standard 2x4 studs at 16" on center. I will be drywalling the ceiling using 2x2 furring strips attached to the joists leaving access panels for water/gas valves, junction boxes, drain clean-outs, etc.

As far as questions, I have a few.

1) Do I need to use rigid foam insulation against the concrete foundation walls? If so, what thickness should I use? I plan on using at least r-19 faced bat insulation between the studs and in addition to the rigid foam.

2) Should I attach the furring strips paralell or perpendicular to the floor joists? Also, I want to reduce the noise from upstairs as much as possible since it is a wood floor and quite noisy in the basement. Should I use the same r-19 bat insulation between the joists in the ceiling? I know this probably won't serve as insulation since both floors will have similar temperatures. Will the bats help with the noise from above or is it a waste of time and money?

3) Lastly, I plan on carpeting the floor. We are expecting our first child in about 6 months and would like a carpeted area for the baby. What kind of underlayment do I need to use against the concrete slab?

Thanks for you help in advance! I have attached a couple pictures to help explain what I have discussed.


joecaption 06-18-2012 08:22 AM

Go back and look at the top of the page for the word "search". There's has to be a couple hundred post all about basements that should ansewer your questions.

andybeck 06-18-2012 03:00 PM


I realize there have probably been posts that would answer my questions and I am familiar with the "search" function of a website. I posted the questions in hopes of getting responses that were personalized to my specific situation. That is why I took the time to take pictures and clearly explain. If you choose not to provide some insight on my situation, that is fine. Just don't tell me to search through thousands of posts to try and find a situation similar to mine. I know there are members of this site who actually enjoy sharing their knowledge and helping others with their lack there of.

Thanks again!

RhodesHardwood 06-18-2012 03:06 PM

For the most part I am not familiar with the insulation for your project, or else I would be glad to help. I do however know that for your carpet you will just need a standard carpet pad. It looks like your project is coming along pretty well. Their are many people on here that will be glad to help.

princelake 06-18-2012 07:02 PM

1. i wouldnt worry about ridgid foam. i would put insulation and vapour barrier in and tape it in with the existing and leave your insulation about 12" up from the floor. i know here in ontario canada that the frost goes down 4' below grade and insulation really doesn't matter below that.
2. i would run your furring strips perpendicular to your floor joists. it looks like you have a lot going on and i would consider putting in a drop ceiling. you can access everything and if you do have a water problem you only need to replace a couple tiles.
3. people usually put a thick under pad glued to the concrete then carpet. i'd install dricore floor first then pad and carpet. yes your basement is dry now and your pump rarely runs but when you actually need it the thing might die. or a foundation problem, sewer back up,etc, etc. your carpet wont be destroyed, none of your contents will be damaged and i see you already have shelving down there that cant be cheap.
some on here dont agree with dricore because its osb but it is a good inch off of the ground and if you do have water problems that will touch the osb then thats the least of your concerns. it will save all of your contents. i've been in basements with 6" of sewage on the floor and the osb swells and it floats! saving most of your stuff only some items right up against the wall getting affected. basements are below grade and below everything else. crap always flows down its not if bu when there will be a problem. it may be tomorrow it may be 30 years from now so you better be safe then sorry.

Gary in WA 06-19-2012 12:26 AM

I'd use foam board below grade, tight to the concrete. 3' below grade the temperature is more stable but the soil usually has more moisture in it than is present inside- so the moisture drive is toward the inside most of the year, pp 6:

No faced insulation or poly sheeting to be safer, as that link brought out. 2" thick f.b. is best for your location, similar to MN: http://www.buildingfoundation.umn.ed...timum-main.htm

Wetness on the wall may be dissipating/evaporating as fast as it forms due to basement air currents, with the walls exposed. Is there a vapor barrier on exterior? Did you try any moisture test in various locations? Foamboard with ply (Fig.15) over it is another way, or Delta FL;


andybeck 06-19-2012 08:02 AM

Thank you for all of the input, it has been very informative!

I have put a lot of thought into a drywalled ceiling vs. a drop ceiling. I think for the most part the benefits to the drywalled ceiling outweigh the costs. One deciding factor has been the windows. As you might be able to tell from the pictres, the top of the windows are only about three inches from the bottom of the joists. If I use a drop ceiling I would need to figure out something to else to do in front of the windows. I'm sure this would not be an issue for an experienced contractor, I just haven't been able to come up with a feasible solution. I also love the fact that the basement is only half below grade and that the windows are exposed and not in wells. I feel as though I need to take advantage of this opportunity to make the basement look and feel the same as any other room in the house. I think the biggest thing that would take away from that would be a drop ceiling. Additionally, the drywalled approach seems to be about 1/3 as expensive as a drop ceiling while increasing resale value. I realize there will probably be future problems above the drywall and at that time I will probably regret doing it this way. At least I will know how to drywall and ripping it out and replacing it with be nothing compared to doing the whole basement.

I am not concerned with flooding from a backed up sewage system as there is not an open sewage line (toilet or drain) in the basement. I have an injection pit that is only being used as a sump pit which drains outside the house and directly into a city sewer. I also have a battery backup system on the sump pump with an alarm in case of outages or a malfunction. From what I can tell, the only moisture I have to worry about now is what could potentiall come in from the foundation through cracks or condensation.

I did try a moisture test on the walls prior to closing on the house. The house was a foreclosure so I had ample opportunity to do these tests without the homeowner being in the way. I taped a 36x36 piece of plastic against the foundation wall and left it for about a week. It was during the spring so I don't know if the results would be the same for the other seasons but there was not any moisture on the inside of the plastic. I would assume there is a vapor barrier on the exterior of the foundation but to be honest I have not looked into it.

Thanks for all of your help everyone! I envy those of you who do this for a living as I have found great enjoyment in it! I will try to take pictures and update with my progress. I welcome any input/suggestions/criticism that you might have.

Thanks again!


princelake 06-19-2012 05:49 PM

just keep in mind of all the possible issues that can happen and build so if something does happen it will just be minor and not a major loss.
i forgot to add in for your sound proofing! i would put batts of roxul safe&sound between the joists. it has no real R value but stops sound and resists fires so if theres a fire in the basement it'll take a long time to get upstairs or a fire upstairs going down to the basement. i would also install solid core doors and not sure if theres a door at the top of the stairs but i'd replace it with a solid core also. this wont make it sound proof but it will cut down a lot on sound and a great addition in the event of a fire.

andybeck 06-25-2012 10:14 AM

Can someone provide some clariity for me on an electrical requirements issue? The county that I live in has adopted the National Electric Code 2005 Edition. I have run conduit and have purchased and started to run the wiring. However, I am getting conflicting information about what is required for the wire. I bought 14/2 NM-B and have started to run it throught the conduit. Here is a link to the wire that I bought.

I am being told that I cannot run this wire through conduit and that I need to use a THHN wire. It seems to me that running romex through conduit is going above and beyond what the code requires.

Thanks for any helo you can provide.

TheCamper 06-25-2012 09:33 PM

To mitigate sound transmission see the following USG publication. There is a lot there but look for wood frame ceiling/floor assemblies.

A personal opinion on the ceiling material; if you use gypsum board on the ceiling a finished basement looks less like a finished basement and more like an above grade finished floor. Sooner or later there will be water staining on the ceiling but as long as you know what you are in for you can deal with it when it occurs. good luck, it should add some nice living space.

My understanding of NEC is that you can put romex in conduit, you may not use romex in wet locations. Confirm with your electrical inspector and also think about what equipment you will be using in the basement, perhaps you may want some 20 amp circuits, 12 awg.

andybeck 07-02-2012 10:03 AM

Can anyone help me with another question?

I am getting ready to add the 2x2 furring strips to the ceiling of my basement. In regards to the ceiling, I have broken the basement into 3 sections. In 2 of the 3 sections, adding 2x2 strips perpendicular to the joists will give me enough room to clear the conduit that is attched to the joists. However, in the larger section which is seen in the pictures, there are some section of couduit that are stacked. There is also a gas line that is attached to the joists. One level of 2x2 furring will not give me enough clearance. I thought about adding a first row of strips paralell to the joists and attaching a second layer of strips perpendicular to them. This would give me 3 inches of total furring and enough clearance for the conduit and gas line.

Does anyone see a problem with this approach?

Thanks for your help!

rebelranger 08-01-2012 03:42 PM

Did you finish this yet? How is it coming? Every thought of spray foam? You can buy it pretty cheap and DIY it!

andybeck 10-10-2012 10:02 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Hello all,

I just wanted to give an update on my basement project. I am currently painting and carpeting is going in within the week.

Thanks for all of your help!

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