How to Finish a Basement Wall

Expert advice for a warm, dry and inviting basement

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Finishing a basement is a perfect DIY project. For a fraction of the cost of an addition, you can convert basement space to valuable living space. Advances in waterproofing along with new products mean your basement rooms can be as dry and comfortable as any other room in the house.

Tools Required

  • Air compressor
  • Air hose
  • Caulk gun
  • Chalk line
  • Circular saw
  • Corded drill
  • Extension cord
  • Framing square
  • Hammer
  • Hearing protection
  • Knee pads
  • Level
  • Safety glasses
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife

Materials Required

  • 2x4 green treated lumber
  • 2x4 lumber
  • Rigid insulation

You can increase the living space in your house just by knowing how to finish and waterproof a basement wall. But there are a couple of important steps to take before you start.

Solve All Moisture Problems First

Before beginning any work, you must determine whether your basement has any moisture problems. If your foundation walls are only damp on humid summer days, fine—you’re good to go with the methods we recommend. But if you have any problems with standing or leaking water in the spring or during heavy rains, you’ve got some “prework” to do.

Fixes usually are as simple as adding or repairing gutters and downspouts or adjusting the grade to direct runoff water away from the house. But serious water problems may call for drastic measures like interior or exterior drain tiling, or exterior waterproofing, which could mean digging around the house or tearing up part of the slab.

You must solve all water problems, or you’ll risk boxing future water in behind a finished wall, ruining it. You’ll end up spending hundreds of bucks redoing a recently finished basement remodel.

Just about every carpenter or building inspector has a different opinion on how to finish a basement wall against masonry. The methods we’ll demonstrate work well in most conditions, but consult with your building inspector before beginning any work to make sure you’re meeting building codes in your area with these unfinished basement wall ideas.

Project step-by-step (14)

Step 1

Seal the Wall

  • Use a paint roller to apply the masonry waterproofing product you choose.
    • Note: This step is only to help prevent water that naturally migrates through concrete through a capillary effect.

Step 2