DESIGN LINE: 7 Steps To A Renovated Basement
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
1. Check your humidity
If you can’t tell from the musty smell or the water pouring in when it rains, for $25.00, you can buy a digital hygrometer which will check the humidity levels in your space. Humidity levels should be between 45-50%.
2. Dehumidiﬁers are a must
Keeping the humidity level right in a basement can be easy enough with dehumidiﬁers, but make sure you understand your role in the equation. Some dehumidiﬁers pump the collected water out, while others require you to empty them, and that’s a task that’s easy to forget.
3. Install a sump pump
Unless your house was built recently, my guess is your basement has a humidity problem. This could be because the old foundation absorbs water or for any number of other reasons. Getting that water out and keeping it out is the essential ﬁrst step. You want to make sure the perimeter of the basement gets a drain and the sump pump automatically pumps the water out.
4. Install vapor barriers
The details are far too complex to discuss in this column, but make sure your designer, architect, or builder is planning for vapor barriers to keep as much water out as possible before you start building walls where moisture will seep in, stay and attract mold.
5. Don’t attract mold
Studies have shown that mold creates asthma and allergies. It can be deadly. If you’re keeping humidity controlled and moisture down, mold won’t have any place to thrive. But be smart about the materials you use. If you’re building sheetrock walls, make sure to use mold-resistant board. While this won’t alleviate all problems, it will offer a shield against future mold growth. Mold remediation is costly, so get this one right from the beginning by dealing with the moisture.
6. Check your radon levels
If you’ve bought a house, you might have seen a very simple radon testing kit that you can buy at your local hardware store for $15.00. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that exists in the rock and soil, and is extremely prevalent in New England. If you have a radon problem in the basement, then you have one in the whole house as well, and should install a radon mitigation system, which is a lot simpler than it sounds and essential for your health and safety.
7. Choose ﬁnishes wisely
You may have thought this whole piece was going to be about your ﬁnishes! But trust me, steps 1-6 are MOST important. If your budget only allows for those this year, please, do them. If you can ﬁnish the job, remember the water factor. Most everyone asks for carpet in the basement, and if you completely take care of the moisture issues, you can do that. As a designer, I would never carpet my own basement. The best possible ﬂooring is tile. Add an area rug or two to cozy things up. If for some reason, the sump pump breaks or the washing machine overﬂows, you’ll be so glad you installed a waterproof ﬂoor.
After reading these tips, you may be saying: Do I really need to do all that? One of my ﬁrst professors in design school taught me a very important lesson that I will offer to you. Save time. Do it right the ﬁrst time. In this case, save a lot of money too in the long run.
- DESIGN LINE: 10 Kitchen Upgrades On A Budget
- DESIGN LINE: 10 Window Shade Treatments
- DESIGN LINE: 7 Steps To a Great Home Renovation
- DESIGN LINE: 10 Ways To Freshen Up Your House On a Budget
- DESIGN LINE: Best Paint Colors For Interiors
- DESIGN LINE: Framing Dos + Don’ts For Every Room
- DESIGN LINE: How To Hire (and Work With) An Interior Designer
- DESIGN LINE: Interior Design Q&A