A basement could make a great extra living room, or even a games room, home cinema or kids play area if you fancy something a little more exciting. But if you do need the extra space, it could also make a great storage area or utilities room too.
If you have a lot of work to be getting on with your basement could even be converted into a home office. Or, if you want to start thinking about expanding your family it would also make a great below-stairs bedroom for one of your loved ones. This article discusses the most common basement problems and also how it can be used in the best possible way to accommodate your needs.
Common Basement Problems
The most common cause of a leaky basement is water coming in through the joint between the floors and the walls after a rain or snow melt. The common area for this to happen in is the corners. Water almost never comes up through a basement floor if the basement has been properly constructed. Hydrostatic pressure is caused by the build up of surface water around the foundation. This pressure pushes water in through the corners were the floor and walls meet.
Why do basements leak?
Basement leaks most commonly occur in the joints between the floor and the walls. When there is a rain or a snow melt hydrostatic pressure is formed. This pressure forces water through these joints. In order to prevent this type of leak proper waterproofing must be installed.
Waterproofing Your Basement
You should begin the waterproofing process outside. You need to eliminate areas where water can collect around the exterior of the home. Surface water goes through the soil and down to your foundation when it builds up. Check to see whether the water in low lying areas flows away from the home. Sometimes it will be necessary to install a drain system that pulls water away from your home. Always check your basement waterproofing after a flood.
Benefits of basement waterproofing
Waterproofing your basement will protect your home from this type of leaks. Basement waterproofing takes place both inside and outside your home. This first step is to look for areas around the outside of your home where water collects near the foundation. You always want water to flow away from your foundation. Make sure that your downspouts direct all water at least eight feet from your foundation and that gutters are in good condition and free from debris. You can prevent some leaks by ensuring that water is directed away from your homes foundation.
Curing a new concrete slab
You get a denser and stronger concrete when water evaporation is slowed down during the curing process. You can use any sealing material as a curing sealer instead of using a temporary sealer or water mister. Capillaries will naturally develop in the concrete as it cures. After it has cured for at least 28 days you should apply two coats of a sealing material to both the slab and the walls. This basement waterproofing method bonds and strengthens the concrete while at the same time keeping vapor, radon, and water out of your basement.
The mortar on concrete block walls should cure for at least 14 days before a sealer is added. Regularly check any joints or cracks in your concrete for leaks. One easy way to test for moisture leakage in your basement waterproofing is to tape down the edges of a piece of aluminum foil with duct tape in an area where you suspect moisture. In a few days check back to see if any moisture is lurking under the aluminum foil.
Almost all homeowners with basements should do basement waterproofing to deal with mold. Keeping moisture out of your basement is an almost impossible task. Leaks often result from cracks in the joints of the walls and floors. You will see mold and mildew cause damage to your basement structure, as well as any items in the basement if moisture is not quickly removed. You can tell you have mold in your basement if it smells musty or you see mold.
How Does Mold Form?
Areas that retain moisture have a tendency to allow molds to form and grow. You will see the growth of mold in walls, floors, and basement carpeting if any moisture seeps into the basement. Mold can grow quickly, forming in any moisture that is left in your basement for more than a day.
Preventing Mold Growth The only way to prevent the growth of mold is to fix moisture problems as mold is capable of growing on any wet surface. You need to apply a waterproofing coating to your walls and floors since they are the most susceptible to moisture. You must keep things dry, sometimes with the use of air cleaners and heaters, to prevent mold from taking over. You have the least possibility of mold growth in the areas that are the driest. To prevent the re-growth of mold in an area you have already cleaned it is a good idea to disinfect the spot and dry it out as quickly as you can.
Removing Mold From Your Basement
You need proper equipment and gear in order to safely remove molds from the surface of your basement walls and floors. You should always wear gloves and eye protection and immediately wash the clothes you were wearing. You can reduce the spread of airborne mold spores by dampening the area prior to cleaning it. While it will not work for all surfaces it is generally a good idea to scrub the area with detergent. The best thing to do with a moldy carpet is to throw it away. Carefully disinfect the entire area after the mold has been removed. Dry the cleaned area as quickly as possible. If there is not enough natural ventilation to allow for quick drying consider using a dehumidifier or heater.
Painting Your Basement Floor
Painting your basement floor is an excellent way to help seal it and prevent rusting. Sealing your basement floor can protect it from stains and also acts as a great primer if you would like to paint the basement flooring as well.
Ten Steps for Paining Your Floor Thoroughly clean your basement floor with a commercial concrete cleaner, being sure to follow the manufacturers instructions carefully. You may need to repeat step one in some areas with stubborn stains. It helps to allow the cleaner to soak for 30 minutes before beginning to scrub. Put the sealer in a large tray once the floor is completely dry. You will need to use a brush to get into the edges but can use a medium nap paint roller with a long handle for the rest of the floor. You want to make sure you have a thick even coating, without puddles.
Since sealer can stain surfaces always be sure to mask off areas that you don’t want covered. Let the sealer dry as per the manufacturers instructions. During this time you should clean your tools in soapy water. It is now time to mix the two part epoxy paint which has been specifically designed for concrete floors, again carefully following the product directions. The direction will indicate a period of time during which the paint must rest before it is applied.
Mask any areas that you do not want to get painted. Get the paint into the corners and edges with a paintbrush or trim pad. You can apply the paint to the rest of the room using a roller with a long handle. You can giver your floor a non skid finish, as well as a decorative touch, with the addition of paint chips. You will need to apply these chips to an area while it is still wet prior to beginning the next section. To ensure that the basement flooring is completely dry do not walk on it for at least 12 hours.
A well painted basement flooring is the perfect finish and does not need to be covered with carpet or other floor coverings. You have also protected your floor against stains and other types of damage.
Remodelling Your Basement
You can create a wonderful living space for your family by remodeling your basement. Basements are very flexible, functioning well as bedrooms, recreation rooms, home offices, or even as a place to entertain friends and family. While the process of renovating your basement for additional living space or storage is fairly simple great care should still be taken when it comes to planning and constructing your space.
You want to plan your entire renovation from start to finish before any work on the project is begun. This simple step can end up saving you time and money down the road. You will also get an idea of the look and feel of the completed project by completing a detailed plan. You can get a good idea of your available space by measuring your basement. You will probably need to include the movement of ducts, beams, walls, and windows as part of your overall plan. You may want to consider hiring a professional to assist you with the planning process.
You can begin to make your other design choices as soon as you have the basic remodeling plan completed. You have get a better idea of what types of fixtures and furnishings the room will require once you have determined what it will be used for. It is a good idea to draw up a specification sheet listing the size, cost, and capacity of every item that will need to be purchased for your basement. Make sure that your cost sheet includes any costs that will be incurred as the result of making structural changes.
Once the space is planned and designed it is time to start building. It is best to hire a qualified and professional basement remodeling company for this task. A good company should be able to look at your plans and determine if you will need to make any changes.
Flooring Your Basement
Many people neglect the important living space that their basement could offer. With a little creativity and time you should be able to turn your unused space into a great family room or den. When it comes to your basement flooring both moisture and warmth are an issue. Even if your floor looks dry, take a closer look for cracks or other opening that could allow moisture to enter and get trapped beneath your new flooring. You have many options for your basement floor depending on your personal style and budget.
Engineered Hardwood Floors
Three to five layers of various hardwoods are used to make this flooring. Each new layer is placed at a 90 degree angle to the layer beneath it. This prevents a lot of the issues that are associated with moisture such as expansion, contraction, and warping. To create a tight bond between each layer they are glued and then laminated under heat and pressure. These floors are easy to maintain and add a sense of beauty and warmth to your basement space.
Slate and Ceramic Tile
While both these materials can be cold to the touch, a few well placed throw rugs should fix that. It is easy to install ceramic tiles over your existing concrete floor. Like concrete, your ceramic tiles are vulnerable to the conditions underneath them. You will need to take measures to protect your tile from the impact of any cracks in the floor. A basement floor that has steel rods running through the concrete will help protect your ceramic tiles from the cracks and fractures that movement can cause. Another great idea is to have the concrete floor and the tiles move separately by installing a crack isolation membrane under your tiles. Staining or painting your concrete sub-floor is another option.
You can definitely add warmth and beauty to your basement with the addition of carpeting. To help them resist microbes your carpet will need to be regularly cleaned. Those with asthma or allergies may wan to think twice before installing carpet in their basement as it can cause irritation. While dehumidifiers will reduce basement floor condensation they will not get rid of it entirely. Area rugs are a great alternative for those who want to avoid the risks posed by installing carpet. Area rugs can be much more easily cleaned on a regular basis.
Basement Decoration Ideas
One of the most difficult rooms to decorate in any home is the basement. Often the room ends up being used very infrequently, mostly for storage. Basements often feel uninviting because they are dark and unfinished. Many have little or no windows and feature exposed concrete and support pillars. You can turn your basement into a very livable space with just a little creativity and effort.
Your Basement Since basements do not have access to lots of natural light you will need to be sure to include plenty of artificial light. You can choose to fill the room with plenty of bright lights or to create a more rustic atmosphere with more gentle lighting. You may also want to use your lighting to feature products in your basement that are made from natural materials such as stone. This can create a gentle and subdued look to the space that makes it comfortable and cozy.
Dealing with Coves
It is very common for basement to have low spaces or irregular areas. You can use these small spaces to create romantic nooks. You can make those areas with low ceilings appear taller by using short couches and low coffee tables. These areas will feel extra cozy with the addition of a plush area rug. This is also a great part of the basement to use for storage.
There are so many possibilities when it comes to your basement: music room, recreation room, play room, or exercise room just to name a few. It is a good idea to add soundproofing if you plan to use your basement as a children play room. Larger basements make excellent exercise rooms with the addition of some good equipment. The basement is also an ideal location for a pool table and other games. You can make it a fun and relaxing place to hang out with the addition of some plush area rugs and comfortable couches if basement waterproofing is done.