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Richo 03-15-2009 09:36 AM

Bottom plates are not pressure treated
Well while I'm on the topic of finishing basements and looking into code requirements, I happen to notice that the finished basement in the house I own (built in 1974) does not have pressure treated lumber for the bottom plates of the framed walls.

Although there are no water problems with the basement and there is no sign of any decay, are there any wood preservatives/sealers that could be applied to the bottom plates as they are in place?

When I bought this home 10 years ago I had a complete home inspection done and nothing was mentioned about this, but I do plan to sell it in a couple years and I don't want to have this suddenly become a problem and I certainly don't want to even consider tearing apart the basement to replace the bottom plates.

I don't know when pressure treated lumber came into existence or when it became required for bottom plates, but I'm guessing that my basement may have been finished before that. Would that mean that I'm "grandfathered" in?

Thanks for any advice.

bjbatlanta 03-15-2009 01:43 PM

Sorry to say, PT lumber was required by code before 1974 (at least everywhere I'm aware of). With no water "wicking" through your slab and the pesticides the ground was likely treated with in 1974 (and have been outlawed since) you may never have a problem. Your home inspector should have caught the problem and advised you. You likely have no recourse against him. Most home inspectors have a pretty ironclad "no fault" clause in their contracts. There are chemical preservatives available to "treat" wood, I'm sure, but I don't think it would bring you up to "code" in this case as you can't treat the most important part of the plate.......the bottom. And you say "in the finished basement of the house" are you seeing the plates if it's finished?? From the back/unfinished side of an interior wall? Hopefully you're not talking about the exterior, load bearing walls of the house.

Richo 03-15-2009 02:46 PM


how are you seeing the plates if it's finished??
Only half the basement is finished so I can see the back side of the wall separating the finished section from the unfinished.

That's kind of what I figured...not easy to get at the underside of the bottom plate...ah well

Thanks for the reply.

bjbatlanta 03-15-2009 03:14 PM

Don't give up yet, there may be other replies with alternatives. There could very well be a solution I'm not aware of, I'm just speaking from my experience.......

Clutchcargo 03-15-2009 03:25 PM

63 Attachment(s)
I built this step pad to go in front of a bulkhead a long time ago. I used regular untreated lumber and dropped it directly on the dirt. It lasted 15 years before it was retired.
My current house was built in 1925. It has a sill that is untreated and it shows no signs of decay. With that said, I wouldn't worry about the toe plates.

bjbatlanta 03-15-2009 05:20 PM

"Clutch", I think Richo is more concerned with "discovery" at some resale point. My house was built in '75 and I'm sure not worried about termites with what was used to poison the soil back then as compared to these days. (Though probably considered toxic by today's standards.) I've done a lot of termite repair on homes newer than mine. And as long as there's no moisture, rot shouldn't be a problem.....

buletbob 03-15-2009 06:25 PM

back in the sixties my father took coffee cans and filled them half way full of creosote, then poked holes in the bottom of the cans and placed them along the sills letting them soak. today they outlawed the chem. but I would do the same thing with cuprinol wood preservative. If your concerned. other wise as mentioned above as long as there kept dry you should be fine. BOB.

Maintenance 6 03-16-2009 07:03 AM

For hundreds of years, houses were built without treated sills. Plenty are still standing today. The builder may have used a sill sealer between the sill and the masonry, which was acceptable (and may still be today). I have to wonder if treated sills were even required in 1974. If it hasn't decayed by this time, I wouldn't be too concerned about it.

Richo 03-16-2009 04:01 PM

Possibly a little confusion as the replies piled up in the thread...not referring to sills but rather the bottom plate of a finished basement wall.

Just curious, basements are built so much better these days than in the past, and if a standard 2X4 held up as the bottom plate of a basement wall back in those days, is the requirement of pressure treated lumber more of a precaution than anything?

I would think that anything that makes contact with the concrete floor would be susceptible to rot or mildew such as carpeting.

bjbatlanta 03-16-2009 05:02 PM

PT lumber is for termites as well as moisture. They won't eat it. As to the carpet, you would have a mold and possible rot issue if there is a lot of moisture coming through your slab. Carpet pad is usually a Foam type of substance and has a plastic film on the top. It would take a while for a slight moisture problem to become apparent if it ever did. Same with a "floating" laminate floor. The underlayment is like carpet pad. Indoor/outdoor type carpet has a rubber backing usually. If you were to lay regular carpet on concrete with a moisture problem without pad, it probably wouldn't take too long for mold to show up and the backing on the carpet would eventually rot.....

buletbob 03-16-2009 05:48 PM

Finished Basement Walls? I would not worry about that. As long as they are not subject to water you will be fine.

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