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Old 11-18-2009, 10:48 AM   #1
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Basement Walls Plaster what to do?

I live in a 1939 single story brick house all the interior walls are plaster the living room has a beautiful cove ceiling.

A friend told me my basement walls were plaster as well. I'd like to utilize my basement as a second living space. The walls are currently in great shape besides a few scratchs the surface is hard, smooth with a white coating it does need to be cleaned up and maybe painted again but all else looks good.

Do I need to drywall over the plaster walls? Or would the plaster walls be sufficient insulation for the winter. I'd like to add carpeting and a drop ceiling. Any advice would help.

The Vintage Soul


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Old 11-18-2009, 11:00 AM   #2
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plaster walls

Plaster is a very thick material, but it's not a substitute for insulation. You'd need to find out if there is insulation in the walls and if not, try to add some. The easiest way with plaster is to do blown in insulation, where they drill a hole and then fill the cavity. It is a little more expensive than fiberglass, but won't involve all the work of drywalling over the plaster. This typically isn't DIY project, though, but perhaps get a few estimates and try to figure out if there is any insulation to begin with.

In terms of adding carpeting, I would make sure there are no moisture problems in the basement first. If you've been there awhile you probably know, but I'd want to check into at least adding a sump pump and/or drain tiles if there is a moisture problem. Otherwise the carpeting might get ruined with a big rain. Often you can keep water out by making sure your yard is draining away from the house and that the downspouts are funneling it away. Here's more on basement.


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Old 11-18-2009, 11:10 AM   #3
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Thank you for the advice. I've been living in the house since the spring and we have had an extremely wet year especially last month it's on record as the wettest. Thankful it has been really dry in my basement, which has retained most of it's original features.

I don't know how I would insulate behind the plaster (in the basement) because I think it's attached directly to the stone foundation. It seems to be pretty warm down there but these are all things to consider.
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Old 11-18-2009, 10:37 PM   #4
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" I'd like to utilize my basement as a second living space." ----- just wanted to mention basement egress (escape), which you may already have, though it would not be original to the building (1939).
Be safe, Gary
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Old 11-19-2009, 10:44 AM   #5
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There's no law that says you need to insulate your basement walls or a right or wrong decision here. It just boils down to making the decision that's best for your circumstances. Your plaster is probably attached directly to a block foundation so there won't be any dead space to blow insulation into. If your basement is predominately below ground then your heat loss is less than if it was above ground. In the short run adding insulation and new interior walls might cost more than the cost of the energy you save. In the long run it might be worth it.

If you have access to the rim joist area then insulating that would give you the biggest bang for the buck.

If it was me, I'd paint the walls, insulate the rim joist, see how the first winter went and decide next spring.

And as GBR said make sure you have egress requirements taken care of.
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Old 11-19-2009, 03:42 PM   #6
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With a concrete floor, no longer than you have lived in the house, and you want to install carpet, try this: Place a small sheet of plastic flat on the floor. Even a garbage bag cut open to it's fullest potential will do. Set something on each corner to hold it down, then tape along all sides. Wait two to three days and look to see if there is water under the plastic. This is a good test to indicate any moisture wicking up through the concrete. Good Luck, David


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