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Insulating your basement floor
The insulation and constuction of a basement floor using polystyrene boards and plywood
Price: 0.99 $
Full version video length: 1 min
SYR DVD # 05
SYR DVD 5 available for download
32:00 min
407 MB
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So you’re renovating #5: Finishing the basement

Finishing up a basement is a great way to improve your home. If you renovate according to your family’s tastes and needs, you’ll be able to enjoy a wider living area. Moreover, since the renovation work won’t interfere with the daily activities on your upper floors, you will be able to take your time and spread out the renovation expenses. Consider renovating your basement as a genuine possibility to add very comfortable and functional rooms to your house. As long as your basement has sufficient ground clearance, there is no reason stopping you from making it a very appealing and comfortable room.

On this DVD you will see how you can finish your basement. Among other things, we will take a look at how to insulate and finish up the walls, how to build a plywood under-floor and put up divisions, how to soundproof walls and finish the joints between the gypsum boards, and, finally, how to install a suspended ceiling. All in all, you will see how to transform your basement into one of your house’s most comfortable living spaces.

Artaud Communications presents: Finishing the basement, Insulation, walls, ceiling and florring.

One of the first things you should consider though, is insulation. Basements are generally large surface areas and their thermal insulation can help you save up to 35% of your heating expenses. Exterior basement insulation is more effective, however, because the foundation walls remain warm and reduce temperature fluctuations. There will be less loss of space in your house and you’ll also be able to damp-proof the foundation. This is very important. If your basement is too humid, it must be insulated from the outside. Stone or brick foundations must absolutely be insulated from the outside. A rigid, extruded polystyrene insulator is extremely efficient and very easy to install. It can be covered with cement panels for durability and protection from UV rays. It is possible to restrict the depth of the trench by arranging the rigid insulation boards sideways. Since exterior basement insulation requires you to dig a trench all around the house, inside insulation is usually the preferred option; this is O.K. as long as there are no major humidity problems to deal with.

Before insulating from the inside, seal off all the air drafts with the appropriate type of caulk.

First of all, it is essential to eliminate all air drafts. Seal off all the cracks. Use the appropriate kind of caulk. Some products have a useful life of more than 25 years. Draftproof around all the ducts and pipes going through exterior walls. You can also use polyurethane foam for more important gaps such as the ones you’ll find around pipes, vents or wiring, or for the joist header : that’s the joint between the foundation and the wall of the first floor of your house. The joist header is a place where draftproofing is very important. Expanding foam can even reduce the noise caused by vibrating pipes.

For thermal insulating, check with your local building codes. Basement walls generally require a minimum thermal resistance of R13. Fiberglass insulation has an R-value of 3,2 for one-inch-thick layers, whereas rigid, extruded polystyrene insulation has an R-value of 5 per inch.

The choice of insulation material depends on the wall configuration. If the walls are really straight and have no irregularities, rigid insulation boards can be used.

Remove every little imperfection. Measure the height of the wall and install the leveled boards. Easy to put up, rigid insulation boards are attached to the wall by furring strips that fit in the grooves of the boards. The boards fit into each other and eliminate cold bridges. Use concrete screws to fix the furring strips to the wall. The gypsum panels will then be screwed unto the wall using the furring strips. This way of proceeding will help you save space. It is not necessary to install a vapor barrier with rigid, extruded polystyrene boards. This insulation has a thermal resistance of R5 per inch. Although you don’t need a wood structure for this, it is possible to install 2 inches of insulation for a total R10 value. Use expandable polyurethane foam to fill in the empty spaces. Install the rigid insulation boards on the exterior walls, all around the basement. Polystyrene is combustible. It must be immediately covered with gypsum panels after it is installed. Insulate the spaces between the ceiling joists this way. Use fiberglass pieces that you will then cover up with a polyethylene film. Seal off everything with acoustic sealant. Pipes should never run through exterior walls. However, if no other alternative is possible, install the pipes on the inner, warm side of the insulation. Cut through the boards starting from a groove and install the pipes in the groove. Complete the job by applying polyurethane foam.

However, if your basement walls have a high number of irregularities, rigid insulation boards will be less efficient as they won’t be able to hug the wall cavities or bumps. It will also be quite difficult to install gypsum boards later on. In this case, it’s better to install an independent stud-framed wood structure, and to insulate the space between this and exterior walls with fiberglass insulation blankets.

Start by covering the walls with a polyethylene humidity barrier extending out from the ground level to the foot of the wall. Leave 1 foot of polyethylene at the base of the wall to be folded back later on. This humidity barrier will protect the fiberglass insulation, the wood and the inside wall-covering against moisture and possible active water leaks. To install fiberglass insulation blankets, you must build a wood frame. Build a wall using 2 X 4 and set it 4 inch away from the foundation wall; this will allow you to add another layer of insulation blankets as we will see in a moment. The sole plate can be directly installed on an acoustic sealant strip, on the humidity barrier. Screw in the head plate on the ceiling joists. Pre-drill the concrete and power-nail the sole plate to the ground with nails or finishing concrete screws. Frame the doors and windows as required. Proceed with the insulation blanket installation. The first layer will be horizontally laid out between the foundation wall and the new wood structure. This first layer will eliminate cold bridges. Cold bridges occur when heat escapes through a material such as a 2/4 wall frame, that has an R-value lower than the one in the insulation. Adjust the blankets one next to the other to eliminate all gaps. To cut through the blankets, use a metal ruler and a utility knife. Then, install the second layer vertically, between the wall studs. When you encounter water pipes, slide the insulation behind the piping to prevent it from freezing. Move on to install the vapor barrier. Seal off every section of the vapor barrier with acoustic sealant.

The vapor barrier will create a perfectly airtight, almost seamless envelope for the whole house. It will eliminate all the air drafts; note that air drafts represent 30% of all heating expenses.

Apply an acoustic sealant strip on the portion of the humidity barrier that extends out on the ground and fold in back this way, toward the top of the vapor barrier. Complete the insulation between the ceiling joists with fiberglass insulation blankets, acoustic sealant and polythene pieces, following the same steps we just saw.

You might have to build a plywood under-floor in your basement if you have an unleveled, concrete floor. Take this opportunity to insulate the new floor. Indeed, a basement will be much more comfortable if its floor has been insulated. Concrete is a porous material and lets through important moisture quantities, especially if it’s part of an old house. Nowadays, concrete slabs are poured unto rigid insulation boards. In the old days, no insulation material was used. Before you insulate your floor, you will have to make it watertight. You can use a polyethylene sheet.

Insulate the basement floor with rigid insulation boards. Rigid insulation has a high resistance to compression. Arrange the boards so the seams are unaligned. Two-inch-thick boards will provide adequate floor insulation. As for the walls, fill in the cavities along the perimeter with expandable polyurethane foam. To build the floor, first locate the highest point in the room. Mark this location with a pencil. You will begin installing 1/4 wood strips on the floor starting from this point. Pre-drill the holes and fix the strips with nails or concrete screws. Adjust the wood strips with cedar wedges such as these. The strips are set 16 inches center to center and around the basement walls. Lay ¾-inch-thick plywood sheets on the wood strips and screw them in with floor screws. Once again, install the plywood sheet and avoid aligning the seams. ¾-inch-thick plywood sheets will provide a solid floor on which you will be able to install the floor-covering of your choice, including ceramic tiles. Note that a basement floor insulated this way will be very comfortable.

The basement is usually a room that needs subsidiary lighting since there is little or no natural light coming in. In many cases, the limited height of the ceiling is a good reason for choosing recessed ceiling lights. This type of illumination will allow you to give style and character to your basement’s new rooms. Also, since the ceiling joists are not yet enclosed, this is the perfect occasion to install beautiful light fixtures. These days, there is a wide range of light bulbs for different kinds of colors, shapes and light beams. You’ll be able to create all sorts of moods simply by harmonizing the lights. Install recessed lights preferably designed for insulated ceilings. This will allow you to soundproof the ceilings with mineral fibers or insulation blankets later on.

Lighting is a very important element in home renovation as it can considerably change the aspect of the rooms in your home. Colors, shapes, sizes and textures all depend upon the ambient lighting. Nowadays, there is a variety of recessed lamps and fluorescent lights to choose from. In this constantly innovating field, you’ll find universal lamps that can be installed in insulated or non-insulated ceilings. First of all, you must determine what kind of lighting you want. General or ambient lighting is great for a gentle and warm atmosphere. Fluorescent lights are very effective for general lighting. To get the same results with recessed lights, you’ll have to spread out the lamps so their floodlights intertwine and become uniform. Type A light bulbs should be used for their gentle and diffuse radiance. Directional spotlights create isolated pools of light that illuminate one particular object : their effect can be quite dramatic. Spotlights draw attention to one specific object, but also create a contrast that gives a room more depth. Use type R or P light bulbs with reflectors. Another technique is to light up an entire wall. This will give the impression that the wall is further than it actually is and will make the room seem larger. Spread out the lamps, leaving two to three feet between them, and use the appropriate reflectors. Finally, to light a working area, choose lamps and light bulbs that provide more concentrated light than what is generally needed for general lighting. When you have identified the kind of lighting you want, select the appropriate lamps. To install a universal lamp such as this one, simply adjust the length of the fixing bars and fasten them on the ceiling joists. The fixing bars are easily adjustable. Screw the fixing bars in for more stability. Lift up the plastic cover over the outlet box and insert the electric cable. Make the necessary connections with plastic connectors. Install the reflector once the ceiling is done.

To complete your basement and finish up the walls, you might need to build new stud partitions. Take this opportunity to build soundproofed walls. There are only several basic steps to follow; the result will be worth the effort. First, let’s see how to soundproof the basement ceiling by blowing mineral fiber insulation between the joists.

A great way to improve ceilings and wall soundproofing is to blow interjoist mineral fiber insulation. For the ceiling, start by fixing a plastic film on the joists, and put up 1x4, 16-inch-space wood strips. These wood strips will also support the suspended ceiling. Blow the mineral fibers between the joists, starting from the middle of the room. Equipment for blowing-in insulation is available in tools rental centers.

There are several types of sounds, for example high-pitched and low-pitched sounds. Different types of sound are eliminated by different kinds of materials. In fact, for effective soundproofing, it’s important to combine several types of materials, such as mineral fiber with acoustic panels and gypsum boards. This combination will give you better results than if only one type of material was used.

When you’re building an interior stud partition, apply acoustic sealant joints on the floor, the ceiling and around the room so as to separate the wall from other structures and avoid sound transmission by conduction. You can also use a padded foam strip such as this one, and then complete the acoustic panel installation for the partition. This type of acoustic panel is installed the same way as gypsum boards. You can cut through it with a utility knife or a jigsaw. Always set the perforations toward the larger air space. Screw each one of the panels to the wall studs every 16 inches. Pull an acoustic sealant joint around the structure. You must draftproof all the seams and other openings to obtain quality soundproofing. Attach ductile bars such as this one to put up the gypsum boards. Never install a ductile bar with the undone part facing down. It must always be installed facing up to increase resiliency by gravity. Also, never place electric plugs back-to-back. By using acoustic panels this way, your stud partition will greatly reduce sound transmission and improve the tranquillity of your basement rooms. Then, you can blow in mineral fiber between the wall studs. You just have to pierce a hole appropriate in size in the upper section of the partition, between each stud, and blow in the fiber. Make sure the fibers are compact. Put the acoustic panel pieces back on the opening and draftproof the hole with acoustic sealant.

All the soundproofing techniques we just saw are very effective and will bring comfort and peace in your home. Soundproofing has become a important factor in today’s household market. Soundproofing your basement is clever since this part of the house usually becomes a playroom, a workroom, a home cinema or a living space for all kinds of noisy, daily activities.

To complete your basement walls, we recommend you use gypsum boards. Gypsum is an excellent material to finish inside walls. It’s very economical and it’s also made out of a fire-retardant material. It has very interesting properties and is widely used to soundproof walls and ceilings. However, some homeowners are reluctant at the thought of finishing up the joints themselves and think they must absolutely call on a professional contractor. Nothing could be further from the truth. As you will see, joint finishing is easy. Once again, it’s only a question of having the right technique. And this means beginning by installing gypsum boards. In addition to reducing the number of linear seams, installing gypsum boards the right way will make joint finishing much easier and prevent the joints from cracking or splitting apart.

On the ground, leave a minimum half-inch space between the floor and the gypsum board. Gypsum boards are economical and fire-retardant. They are an excellent material for finishing up walls and ceilings. Preferably select half-inch-thick boards. First, screw the boards in the middle then on the sides and extremities. Use gypsum screws; they will seldom, if ever, pull out of the drywall. When you’ve cut through a board, sand off the rough-edged sides with a sand sponge or a utility knife. Use a jigsaw or a plasterboard cutter to make the necessary openings. Avoid all joints over or on the side of doors and windows as they will have a tendency to split apart in these areas. Drive in the screws every twelve inches on the ceiling, and every sixteen inches on the wall, and put them at least 3/8-inch away from the side of every board so as not to promote cracks. Gypsum boards must be installed with their seams unaligned. On outside corners, install strips of metal beading to ensure superior protective measures against blows. Cut through the beading with shears and install it every nine inches, starting from the middle. Be careful not to drive in the screws too much as it could bend the metal corner out of shape. For a quick and high-quality installation, you can use gypsum boards such as these directly on top of the openings and cut through them once they are installed. Using a level will help you screw in the gypsum boards in the ductile bars.

And now the moment has come to finish up the joints between the gypsum boards. The essential thing you must do here is apply the tape correctly. Remember the important steps for finishing up joints. You must work with three different sizes of spatulas. The first one must be four inches wide, the second one ten inches wide, and the third one, used to finish off the joints, must be twelve inches wide. You must absolutely avoid contaminating the joint compound with dried-out particles.

Once the gypsum boards are installed, you must put up tape on the joints. Choose quality finishing materials such as tape and compound specifically designed for drywall. The compound must never freeze and must be kept at a 13 degrees Celsius temperature before and after the job is done. Use another container to refill on your compound. This way, the original container will remain closed and free of all contamination and dried-out particles. For interior corners, apply a large quantity of drywall compound on each side with the four-inch-wide spatula. Then, put up the drywall tape. Fold the tape in two and put it up, firmly pressing on it so it will adhere to the compound. Coat the tape with a light touch of compound and smooth it out carefully. Putting up the tape is a very important step. If the tape is not installed properly, you’ll have to take it off and start over again. Apply the compound on outside corners. Apply approximately two feet of compound at once, then smooth it out. Repeat the same steps for the other side of the outside corner. You can also use paper corners for inside corners. Perfect outside or inside corners are much easier to make with paper corners. They are also useful for ceilings since inside joints are longer and more visible up there. Seal off the screws. Two strokes with the spatula in opposite directions will usually do the job. For flat joints, apply a large quantity of drywall compound with a five-inch-wide spatula. Immediately put up the paper tape, the smooth side facing out. Don’t overlap the tape where the joints meet. Slide the tape inside the compound with the spatula and coat it with a thin layer of compound. Smooth out the joint. Wait at least 24 hours for the first coat to dry. Then, lightly smooth out all the small imperfections with medium sand paper or by scraping them off with the spatula.

You can complete the second coat on inside angles in two steps. First, with a five or six-inch-wide spatula, apply the compound on one side, let it dry, then do the other side. This way, you’ll be able to remove the excess compound on the dry side. For flat joints, scrape the imperfections off and apply the second coat with the eight-inch-wide spatula before smoothing everything out. The joint will be approximately eight inches wide. Apply the second compound coat on outside corners with a ten-inch wide spatula, then smooth out the surface. The joint will be ten-inch wide. Apply the second compound coat on outside corner with the ten-inch-wide spatula, then smooth it out. Finally, apply another coat on the screw heads. Once the second coat has dried, lightly sand the joints to remove all the little imperfections. Be careful not to sand too much and damage the paper. Preferably use sandpaper specifically designed for gypsum renovation work. Always sand lengthwise, starting from the center and moving off to the sides. Apply the third coat on inside corners. For flat joints, widen the joints until they are at least fourteen inches wide, then smooth everything out. Apply the third coat on screw heads and outside corners. Once the third coat has dried, lightly sand out the imperfections with thin sandpaper. Wear protection goggles and a respirator. Also make sure there is sufficient ventilation. Sand lengthwise, starting from the sides and moving toward the center. Avoid having the sandpaper make contact with the gypsum board. This will make the surface rough and may promote joint visibility once the final decorating touches are carried out. Wipe away residual dust using a dampened cloth.

You will probably have to install at least one door in your basement. With all the prefabricated and pre-framed products available today in renovation centers, this job is indeed very easy and simple.

To completely soundproof your walls, choose a soundproofed door. Assemble the frame and put it in place. The frame sides must be perfectly aligned with the walls. Temporarily nail in the upper section of the frame on the hinge side. Screw the hinges to the door. Then screw the door’s hinges to the frame. Use cedar wedges to support the door and give it the right height during this operation. Adjust the door and frame level, and then nail in the base of the frame. Make sure the door is well adjusted, and opens and closes properly. Insert cedar wedges in other areas to maintain the frame in its position. Once everything is aligned, fix the door frame into the wall studs permanently. Cut out the exceeding cedar wedges with a utility knife and put up the stop molding on the frame. Slide insulation blanket pieces into the cavities around the frame if the gaps are large enough and apply acoustic sealant. To finish off your basement ceiling, you can use gypsum boards. Another popular solution is to put up a suspended ceiling which will conceal all those pipes and outlet boxes. Indeed, when you are faced with columns, piping and other elements in your ceiling, it might be simpler to put up a suspended ceiling. The ceiling might be lower than it actually is in some places but, in return, panels offer the possibility to access elements in the ceiling. When you need to do repairs or insert wires, this can be highly practical. Installing a suspended ceiling will allow you to finish the basement ceiling quickly all the while obtaining an elegant, polished look. Determine the height at which you want to install your suspended ceiling. By lowering the ceiling, it will be possible to hide away pipes and air ducts. Draw a leveled, horizontal line all around the room to the desired height. Then, put up the border moldings along the walls, the lower corner aligned on the level line. Pre-drill the moldings and nail or screw them into position. Contour moldings must meet in corners this way. Cut through the moldings with shears in this fashion. Determine the location of the first girder; it must be perpendicular to the joists. Its location will serve to measure the dimension of border panels that have to be cut on the sides. Position the main girder so as to avoid cutting panels that are « too small ». You can use specifically designed bits to put in the screws for the suspended ceiling. Put the screw eyes into the joists and tie the suspension steel strings.

Generally, all perforated tiles are soundproofed and absorb at least 45% of all noise. They are washable and can be painted with your favorite color. Finally, their light reflection level is very good: between 60 and 80%.

Cut and put up the first girder. Once you have measured the length of the panels, put up the other girders in their appropriate places. Then, install the T-shaped brackets on the girders. Engage the T-shaped brackets this way. To install recessed lights in a suspended ceiling, adjust the tie-downs and use the little space next to each of their extremities to fix the lamp. Repeat the same steps we showed you for electrical connections. Install the suspended ceiling panels. Cut openings for recessed lights and border panels. Use a utility knife and a metal framing square. Do not use electric tools since they can produce a lot of dust.

When you are handling ceiling panels, wear gloves, long sleeves, security goggles and a respirator. Ceiling materials can cause temporary irritation.

For a beautiful finished look, put up ceiling moldings. To put in the reflectors, start by removing the light socket. Slide the socket inside the appropriate opening and fix it to the reflector. Push the reflector inside the lamp. Proceed the same way for recessed lights in gypsum ceilings. Installing reflectors is very simple and the result is quite impressive. With reflectors you can use economical type A light bulbs. Moreover, reflectors prevent light from leaking out around the lamp. They are available in several colors and finish. White will reflect light and can be concealed in white ceilings. Conversely, black absorbs light and reduces glints. Gold is a warm color and enhances the dark coloring of natural woods.

An economical, effective and attractive way to finish a floor is to install vinyl tiles. This type of floor-covering is probably the most simple kind of installation there is. You only have to remove the film on the back of the tile and glue them on the surface. As is the case for ceramic tiles, vinyl tiles require a minimum of preparation and planning time.

First of all, locate the center of the room by measuring each side. Draw a reference line from one side to the other and trace a second, perpendicular line through the middle of the first one. Use a framing square to make sure you have a 90 degree angle. To install floor tiles, check with the instruction leaflet provided by the manufacturer. Lay the tiles along the two lines to measure the dimensions of the border tiles. Make sure the surface you’re covering is stable and solid. If you install tiles over a used vinyl floor-covering, nail the old tiles in where they have become unglued. Before moving on to the next step, make sure the surface is clean. It is important to have a smooth and level surface to work on. The most effective solution is to apply a coat of under-floor flattener. Redraw the lines if needed to have full border tiles and also to limit the size of the tiles in general. The tiles should be put down such that the arrows on the back all face the same way. Self-adhesive tiles are very easy to install. Remove the film on the back and put the tile down on the floor. Always start with the tiles in the center of the room, where the two reference lines meet. Make your way by installing the tiles in a pyramidal fashion. Vinyl floor tiles are exceptionally easy to clean. They will never permanently stain or discolor because of mildew or sun rays. Nowadays, there is a wide variety of floor tiles that will surely suit your tastes. To measure border tiles, set the tile to be cut directly on top of the adjacent tile. Then set another full tile on top and use the top tile to mark the cut line. The only thing you have to do now is cut the tile and stick it on. Once you have completed one quarter of the room, complete the other sections. Ideally make sure the tiles stick to the under-floor using a linoleum roller available in rental renovation centers. When the whole room is done, put up the moldings all around, and there you have it !