Basement framing: The first step in finishing your unfinished basement

Basement framing is a moderately challenging do-it-yourself project and the first step to finishing...

Basement framing is a moderately challenging do-it-yourself project and the first step to finishing your unfinished basement.

First steps

If your basement has moisture issues, you may want to consult an Atlanta remodeling professional before proceeding. You'll want to take care of any issues prior to committing to the expense of framing, insulation and ultimately dry wall. All of these can be damaged by moisture.

To begin the basement framing job, make a scale drawing of your basement finishing plans. You'll want to submit these plans to your building inspections department. Once your plans are approved and you have the necessary permits, you'll begin by gluing foam insulation to the walls of your foundation. Extruded polystyrene foam in 3/4-inch thickness is best for this job.

Next, you'll frame the stud walls near the edges of the foam, leaving about 1/2 inch of clearance. You'll want to place 2 x 4s above and below your insulation first and then custom cut your studs to the correct length and nail them in place. You'll place studs every 16 inches to accommodate your drywall.


You'll also need to create soffits for ductwork and plumbing. These will cover those unsightly pipes and ducts. Measure the distance from the floor to the lowest hanging pipe or duct. You'll then mark the distance two inches lower than that location to determine the height of the soffit. Nail a 2 x 4 nailing strip at this point. Then assemble soffit sections in 8-foot lengths and screw into the bottom of the floor joists.

Other frames

You may also want to frame partition walls to divide your basement living space. You'll mark these with double chalk lines, mark door lines and frame. You may also need to frame around obstructions, like valves, beams, or wires. You'll want to frame around these objects to make them blend in as seamlessly as possible.

However, if you need to maintain access to the area, frame around it and drywall over it. Then cut out an access panel and screw a return air grate over the opening. This will allow you to maintain access to things like junction boxes or plumbing cutoff valves while still concealing the area.

If the job's too complex for your skills or your basement has extraordinary issues like moisture problems, you may want to contract the work out to a remodeling professional.

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