Insulating Basement Walls
Basement insulation comes in a multitude of materials, making the installation process unique to each home. Learn more about what will work for your basement with this guide.
Insulating basement walls helps to not only protect the space from moisture or water damage, but also to provide temperature control in what is often the chilliest room within a home.
Jeff took out walls, put in steel I-beams (which allowed him to carry the ceiling load to create an open floor plan) and opened up the kitchen, breakfast nook and dining area into one another. Once the cabinets and bookshelf were removed, the kids were able to run laps around the first floor.
This is the kitchen as viewed from the old dining area. Jeff's daughter Sylvie is hanging on the framework for the new bar which would act as a divider between the kitchen area and the dining area. Note the broken window in the back door and no insulation in the walls. Jeff later replaced the door with an insulated model and added insulation to the walls.
The only way to get more room in the main bathroom was to "bump out" a glass block garden window. Jeff had never installed glass block before, and he had to engineer the cantilever supports to make sure the family didn't end up falling into the kitchen the first time they took a bath. He also needed to replace the windows.
In addition, the room had sunk into the kitchen below by several inches due to a poor remodeling job by a previous owner. She had cut out floor joists to add in ductwork and then put tile over the old floors and walls, adding to the weight of the room. Much of the tile had cracked and fallen away from the walls and floor.
Jeff's home gets a major backyard makeover complete with an outdoor kitchen and a screened-in porch. The Wilsons love to entertain, but with a small home, their limited indoor space makes it difficult to entertain more than a few people at a time. Thanks to their new outdoor area they can have more people over during nicer months, but they don't have to maintain, heat or cool the space all year long.
There are several types of basement wall insulation, including sprayed foam, bubble foil, foam board and fiberglass.
Sprayed foam insulation is a viable choice for a homeowner who is looking for a do-it-yourself option for a finished basement. The foam is applied in exactly the manner as it sounds — with spray cans. It is important to wear a mask when applying this material in order to avoid inhaling the strong chemicals it gives off.
Bubble foil is sold in rolls at hardware stores, making it easy to roll out and attach to a wall with an adhesive. This material is not only a cinch to install, but durable and effective for more many years.
Foam board insulation is often made from a polystyrene or polyurethane material. These insulation panels are useful for adding structural stability to a home, as well as temperature control. While it is possible for a homeowner to install the panels, foam boards often require the help of a professional.
Fiberglass insulation is coated in a vapor barrier that is ideal for locking out the moisture that is common in a basement space. This material — which is known for its ability to last for years — can be easily installed with nails or an adhesive.
See also: Air Sealing and Insulation
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- Finishing Basement Walls
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- Basement Remodeling Costs