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How To Insulate Basement Walls

If you want to turn that unfinished basement into a useful room, say a man-cave, you have to insulate the walls first. One of the indispensable benefits that we can get from basement insulation, other than thermal performance, is the money saved from energy expenses.

How To Insulate Basement Walls

Before we proceed and teach you how to insulate your basement walls, you need to gather up the material and tools that you will need. You can save a great deal of time and provide convenience if the things you need are prepared. And knowing the right tools to use is even more advantageous. Listed below are the tools and materials for this project.

Supplies you'll to insulate a basement: 

  • water spray
  •  hydraulic cement  -plug tie-rod holes in the concrete wall
  •  2-inch-thick rigid polystyrene -to insulate wall
  •  foam board adhesive
  •  1×3 spruce -to secure foam board and create nailing surfaces for drywall
  •  4-inch-long spring spike –  to secure wood boards to the insulated wall
  •  1 5/8-inch drywall screws -to fasten vertical 1x3s

Tools to insulate a basement:

  •  masonry hammer and center punch  for driving tie rods into the concrete wall
  •  margin trowel – used for applying the hydraulic cement
  •  caulking gun -used for the application of adhesive on the foam board
  •  chalk reel for snapping horizontal lines
  •  hammer drill and 3/16-inch masonry bit
  •  drill or driver, for fastening vertical 1x3s to horizontal 1x3s

Steps :

1. Put a plastic panel

Before you insulate your basement, you need to check first if there's moisture on the wall. A week before you embark on this awesome project put a plastic panel on the wall and check for condensation. If it collects between the foundation and the plastic then it means the wall is not properly sealed. If it's nice and dry then you're all set.

2. Look for rust marks

If there are rust marks on the steel ties then it's more likely that there's water leaking down the wall. What you need to do is plug the hole and stop the leakage. Get the center punch and drive it through the hole where the steel ties are. The steel ties should go through about a quarter to half an inch.

3. Plug the hole

To plug the holes, we'll be using some hydraulic cement. Mix it up with some water until it's like the consistency of a peanut butter.

Before you fill the hole with the cement, spray or mist it first with water. The reason for this is that the concrete will suck out all the water from the hydraulic cement. Once it is inside the hole it will expand and fill the gap so that water won't leak anymore.

4. Apply foam board adhesive

Use foam board adhesive to stick the board to your foundation. Just make sure that the adhesive that you're going to use doesn't have solvent in it because it will deteriorate your foam.

The foam that we used in this project is 2 foot wide by 8 feet high by 2 inches thick sheet of polystyrene. It has a tongue and groove joint so when other pieces were attached it will fit nice and tight.

5. Stick the foam board to the wall


Tip the top and push the first board into the corner and hold it against the wall.

Continue placing the foam board sheets. If there's a beam, shape your foam board accordingly then adhere it to your foundation.

6. Attach the drywall to the wall


Measure the wall and mark it using the chalk reel. This is where you're going to attach the 1×3 spruce board.

With the use of the 4-inch-long spring spike, secure the spruce boards into the insulated wall

7.  Attach spruce boards vertically

Run 1×3 spruce boards vertically right to the center of the horizontal boards. Use drywall screws to attach these boards.

Continue with this procedure. It has depth where you can run the electrical wires behind the upright. Now the insulation process is done!

Watch this video from This Old House for the full tutorial on how to insulate basement walls :   

Projects like these basement walls insulation will not only give another functional space inside your home but it can also save you a lot of money when it comes to your electrical bills. Money that can be used for another cool and useful DIY project.

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featured Image Via StageLeft


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