How Finish a Basement with Paneling

Many people consider finishing a basement as an inexpensive way of adding square feet to their home to use as an extra bedroom or to add value to their house. Finishing a basement with paneling requires only basic skills and is inexpensive for a home owner content to do the project himself. If you are considering finishing your basement, check local building codes and get all of the necessary permits. Then follow these easy steps to complete the job.

Before installing basement paneling you must address any moisture problems your basement walls may have. Appropriate steps vary depending on the degree of the problem, but it is essential to make sure your basement walls will stay dry before installing paneling. Some problems can be fixed by attaching a simple moisture barrier, while others may require the drainage around the home to be altered.

With moisture problems eliminated, begin by installing furring strips. Furring strips are simply small pieces of lumber that you will then nail the paneling into. Start by screwing furring strips to the wall that are flush with the floor and ceiling. Furring strips can be attached using masonry screws and a screwdriver, with screws spaced every 10 inches. Attach furring strips around the perimeter of any basement windows and two pieces running vertically in every corner.

With the main pieces of furring installed, you must also install pieces of furring every 16 inches on center. To do this, measure out from one of the corners 16 inches and snap a vertical chalk line. Measure out from that chalk line 16 inches and snap another line. Continue until you have a series of vertical chalk lines that are spaced 16 inches around the entire perimeter of the basement. Over the center of each of these chalk lines you should attach a furring strip that fits between the ceiling and floor furring strips you have already installed.

When the furring strips are completely installed, you should then plan on installing some insulation. For basements, foam insulation is preferred for its narrow depth and relatively high R value. Cut a piece of foam insulation to fit snuggly between each section created by the furring steps with a utility knife. Rigid foam insulation can be glued into place; foam insulation with a foil back can be stapled into place on the furring strips.

Now that the foundational pieces are in place, you can install the basement paneling. Most paneling comes in 4 feet by 8 feet sections. You should install the basement paneling vertically, starting from a corner. The ends of the paneling should meet over a furring strip, allowing you to secure both ends of the paneling. You should nail the paneling into all of the furring strips it covers with finishing nails spaced every 6 to 8 inches. Don’t for get to nail through to the furring strips that are completely covered by a paneling piece.

Basement windows require special treatment. Plan on having a panel seam that bisects the width of the window. Then cut half of the hole required out of two pieces of paneling with a reciprocating saw. Then install the panels as you would with any other basement paneling piece.

With the paneling installed, you should consider any finish work you must do in the basement. Use a nail set and wood putty to eliminate the appearance of nail heads. Installing molding around basement doors, windows, and at the top and bottom of the panels will give the basement a more refined appearance. When all of the woodwork is installed, do any painting or necessary touch ups to make the basement paneling a uniform color and hide any wood putty.

Installing paneling in a basement is the easiest method to finish a basement available to the avid home owner. Although this is a simple project, most home owners will find it will take an entire weekend of hard work to complete this project. For this reason, plan carefully or hire someone to do the job for you.

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