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Old 12-29-2008, 12:21 AM   #1
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Finishing old basement

Hi there,

I have a 100 year old semi-detached home in Toronto Canada and I am gutting a kitchen in the basement apartment.

The basement seems to have been lowered as the underpinnings are exposed about 4-5 inches above the poured concrete floor (at least I think that is what that means). The walls are solid brick construction right down to the underpinning/sill from what I've seen so far. The method that was used to finish the basement last was to construct a wooden stud wall on top of the sill (ie not the poured floor) to the ceiling slightly away from the brick wall. The studs are very old (real 2" by 4" studs). One wall in question is an inside wall (semi detached home). Another wall is an outside wall, and another wall is an interior wall between two rooms.

Finally, in the last several years there was a flooding problem in the basement that was correctly repaired by the former owner and there is no indication of recent moisture except for a small leak I found in the kitchen due to a poor drain connection (ie not the foundation). There is mold present on the back of the drywall near this leak and elsewhere where the drywall seems to be in direct contact with the concrete sill. The back of the baseboards had mold as well.

At any rate, I am wondering what the exact correct approach should be given that I am prepared to gut and start over.

1) Should the footer of the studwall come in direct contact with the sill/underpinning? If not, what product should be used as a barrier between wood and concrete? Should I use pressure treated (I think the answer is yes).

2) How should the footer plate of the studwall be attached to the underpinning/sill? Is it ok to drill into my underpinning/sill a little bit to secure the stud wall with a fastener of some sort? Or, should I fasten to the solid brick wall instead somehow?

3) Should a dead air space be maintained between the solid brick wall and my stud wall?

4) Should the drywall be protected against direct contact with the concrete sill/underpinning?

5) Should this inside wall ideally be vapour barriered and insulated even though it hasn't been previously. The basement seems dry and it isn't damp at all.

6) Should all brick and concrete sill/underpinning be painted to prevent wicking?

7) What is the best wallboard product for basements if drywall isn't recommended?

I understand that the drywall should not sit on the concrete floor itself to prevent wicking. I get that and I will ensure it's about an inch off the floor.

Finally, I should mention that I am not just concerned with meeting Toronto Canada building code, I want to do what's right and what will last for years to come.

Thanks so much,


Last edited by force4ormore; 12-29-2008 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:48 PM   #2
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1. You should use pressure treated wood whenever it touches concrete.

2. You can either use a powder acuated gun to shoot nails threw the bottom plate into the concrete or you can use a hammer drill to drill into the concrete and attach the bottom plate using tapcons.

3. There should be a gap between your brick wall and stud wall so air can circulate so you won't get moisture problems.

4. The drywall should be held off the concrete floor about 1/2" so it doesn't pick up any of the moisture that is in concrete.

5. You should insulate the new stud wall with batt insulation and then use a plastic vapor barrier before you install the drywall.

6. I'm not sure about the wickin issue but if you use pressure treated wood in contact with concrete i don't think it will be a problem.

7. There are a couple of prducts out that are made for moisture prone areas like dens sheild and others. I have heard of some people using dens sheild for the bottom foot and then regular drywall above that.


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