Finishing a basement is an excellent way to gain more usable square footage from your home, but you won’t get any enjoyment out of your new living space if you’re not mindful about planning and choosing the right materials.
Whether you’re finishing your basement to create the perfect man cave, home theater, hobby room, kids’ playroom, rec room, or whatever, we’ll look at the most common ways people finish their basement walls and offer an idea that will make your basement look classy while offering superior flood protection.
What Kind of Walls Do You Have?
The kind of walls you have in your basement will determine the best method and material for finishing. There are three primary types of basement walls: masonry walls, poured concrete, and precast panels, so let’s briefly look at each.
Masonry walls are the most common used in home construction and consist of concrete cinder blocks fitted together with mortar joints, much like brickwork.
Poured Concrete Walls
Many homebuilders prefer poured concrete over masonry walls because it gives a cleaner surface, which makes it easier to paint and finish. However, poured concrete is prone to tiny cracks, which may be aesthetically unappealing depending on how you finish it.
Precast wall panels aren’t common, but they’re growing in popularity with new home builds. Precast panels offer many advantages over the previous options because they consist of a pre-studded concrete slab with all the plumbing and wiring holes necessary, and adding drywall is much easier because you already have a frame to build on.
Why Drywall Isn’t Ideal For Finished Basements
One of the most common methods people use to finish their basement is drywall like the rest of the house. However, drywall is designed to be added to a frame of 2x4s, which typically doesn’t exist in the basement, so homeowners must create the frame before adding the drywall. The problem with this technique is that it’s time-consuming because once the frame is built and the drywall added, you still have to mud the joints and paint it. Another concern involves the drywall sheets themselves because they’re heavy. A typical sheet can weigh about 50 pounds, and getting multiple sheets into the basement is a chore, especially if the only way into the basement is via a narrow stairway.
Finally, drywall doesn’t hold up well in damp environments, which makes it a poor option for the basement. Because basements are below grade, they’re often damp and prone to flooding or water seepage from the foundation walls.
If your basement has even a slight moisture problem, it won't take long for the drywall to become moldy and begin to fall apart. If you insist on finishing your basement with drywall, it’s crucial that you address the source of the dampness so as not to waste your hard-earned money and effort. Once drywall gets wet, it stays wet, and the only way to fix it is to rip it out and replace it. And wet drywall isn’t just an aesthetic issue; it becomes a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Drywall is made primarily from gypsum, which is sandwiched between layers of paper that contain cellulose — a food source for mold.
Like wet, warped drywall, mold doesn’t only look bad; it causes serious health problems. The CDC says this about mold:
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.
Alternatives to Drywall
While drywall is cheap and readily available, as we’ve seen, it’s not ideal for finishing a basement, so let’s look at some alternatives.
Depending on what kind of walls your basement has, the options to finish them range from relatively simple and inexpensive to elaborate. If you have concrete or masonry walls, a fresh coat of paint could be all you need to do the trick. If you want something cleaner and modern looking, you could opt to install panels. Some wall paneling systems mount directly onto the concrete and come with pre-drilled holes for your plumbing and electrical wiring. However, you must be cautious if you decide to go this route because not all basement wall panels are flood or water-resistant, which could be an issue if you live in an area that’s at a high risk for flooding.
Why EnduraFlood™ Wall Panels Are The Best Option for Finished Basements
We’ve looked at how basements are typically finished, told you why drywall isn’t the best option, and offered a few alternatives, and now we’ll tell you why the EnduraFlood Flood-Proof Basement Wall System is the best option.
If you already have a basement finished with drywall, or are intent on using it, EnduraFlood replaces the drywall several feet from floor level — the portion you would normally replace after a flood.
What makes EnduraFlood unique is that they’re durable and reusable. EnduraFlood boards are made from cement, making them flood resistant and able to withstand years of bumps, scuffs, and bangs. And, unlike other finished basement systems, EnduraFlood is quick and easy to install and doesn’t require repeated sanding or spackling, which means less mess in your house. Like other basement panels, EnduraFlood panels can be cut to accommodate your plumbing end electrical wiring and match any structural detail required.
Most importantly, however, the EnduraFlood wall paneling system looks outstanding. Designed after traditional wainscoting, EnduraFlood gives your finished basement an upscale, contemporary look that offers superior flood protection compared to other methods.
Finally, if the area behind the panels gets wet from flooding, simply remove them, allow to dry, and reinstall. If you live in a flood zone, or are worried about water in the basement, EnduraFlood significantly reduces cleanup time and costs.
EnduraFlood is a cost-effective, beautiful wall system designed to last for years and minimize the time, hassle, and cost of cleaning up after a major flood.