How to Insulate Basement Walls

February 19, 2010 at 7:06 am

There are many different ways, techniques, and insulation to insulate basement walls. When you have decided to insulate the basement walls because you want more room for the kids or maybe a room for entertainment, look into the different insulation. There is one out there that will be perfect for the type of insulation you are looking for. Stone, concrete or any type of foundation are extremely poor insulators. The heat that is in the basement will go right through the walls.

There are a number of factors you need to consider before insulating basement walls. Before starting the project of insulating the basement walls, check first with the local building authorities to see if any special requirements are needed. Uneven walls, cupboards, partitioned walls and stairs all have a big influence on the project. Look for structural problems inside such as cracks or bulges. Moisture is a big problem in basements. Leaks, cracks dampness of the floors indicate moisture and should be dealt with accordingly. Most homes in general that have basements are in cold weather climates. Cold air comes up from the basement and rises, causing the electric bill in the cool months to sky rocket. It causes the heater to work harder and wastes so much energy. Adding proper insulation like residential spray foam insulation will lower the electric bill and be toasty throughout the winter months. During the summer months the basement will seem cooler with insulation.

Basement Walls How to Insulate Basement Walls

Let’s start with the tools of the trade sort of speak. Gather together the following;

  • Tape measure
  • Permanent markers
  • A dry wall square
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Ear plugs
  • A powered corded hammer drill (for drilling concrete)
  • Masonry drill bit, get the good one
  • A cordless drill for the screws
  • A hand ratchet for those stubborn screws
  • A spare 2×4 foot board
  • Work gloves
  • Eye protection such as goggles
  • A level to guarantee the furring strips are level

Constructing frames before installing the insulation is a must. Most install two by two wood boards every 15 inches along the walls. Good, pressure treated two by fours are placed along the floor. These must sit just below the sill plate on top of the foundation wall. You can attach the bottom plate to the floor by using what is called ‘liquid nails.’ It is an adhesive that sticks to the floor. Then drill the screws into the floor about every sixteen inches. Then use the level to be sure the boards are level.

Air seals all of the cracks and leaks that you can find. Not sealing these will cause moisture to get and then the real problems start. Remember if there are windows seal the window frames that are with the wall with a good caulking compound.

If there should be water supply pipes they must be moved away from the wall if possible. If they cannot be moved you will have to place a vapour barrier behind them to seal it. Do think you can just place the insulation in front of the pipes that just will cause more work and frustration.

These directions for insulating basement walls are with Styrofoam blocks being used. But remember, there are many different ways to insulate basement walls. This is not the only way. Look for the different ways and styles online or maybe talk to a contractor.

  • Purchase enough Styrofoam to cover all the walls of the basement, taking measurements with you. Remember the rule “measure twice, cut once.” Go to the local hardware store in your area and show them the measurements you have and they will be more than happy to help you. They usually have either 4×8 foot or 2×8 foot tongue and groove sheets. They will assist you in getting the rest of the supplies you will need to insulate the basement walls. You will also need the 1×3 foot furring strips for every 2 feet of the wall and a lot of screws. Tapcon screws seem to work the best as they are very thick and will avoid any chance of snapping. Use the hex head for the ease of screwing the screws into concrete. Tapcon screws are very expensive; maybe try buying them on line in bulk. They come in boxes of twenty five screws to a box. You might end up using six to ten boxes to finish insulating the basement walls.
  • Now everything is in place to start insulating the basement walls. Start with one corner of the room, cut the Styrofoam to the height of a block of the wall, being sure it fits under the floor joists. Marking the Styrofoam with a marker, score it with a utility knife. Break the Styrofoam with the spare 2×4 to get an even and sharp snap.
Basement Walls 1 How to Insulate Basement Walls
  • When you put up the cut Styrofoam you can then cut the furring strip to cover the seams of the Styrofoam. Using the hammer drill, first being sure you are wearing eye and ear protection and gloves, as it can be quite loud. Drill into the concrete and countersink the hole. Finish off the screw with the ratchet when it is needed. Once this is accomplished there will be a securely fastened piece of Styrofoam. Be sure the screws are flush on the front so that drywall can be mounted directly onto the furring strips.

Once the insulation of the basement walls is complete be sure to cover them. Most building codes do require covering the insulated walls. No getting around that one. And besides, you want your new insulated basement walls to look nice. Many people use gypsum drywall, some use wood paneling. Some like to use paper dry wall, where the dry wall actually has a pretty design already on it. It saves time if you do not want to pain the walls. You can also find sound proof dry wall in case there will be loud music and the band plays on.

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