How do I go about installing insulation in the basement when making a basement renovation?

Making a basement renovation can be a sound investment, as it can take a drafty storage space and convert it into a warm and inviting livable extra room or apartment. One of the keys to finishing a basement is being sure to put insulation in the framework. Areas where basements are prevalent like Toronto and the greater surrounding area get very cold during the winter time, so if you plan to be using your basement, you will want to make sure it is comfortable. Not every homeowner wants to complete a full basement renovation with new floors and utilities, but on a basic level, installing studs and drywall is a nice, inexpensive way to hide the foundation walls and put a little more insulation between yourself and the frozen elements outside. Homeowners can usually install insulation in a basement pretty easily, but the process works best with an extra set of hands. Typically you will want to create a framework of studs that are pressed tight against the foundation walls with some adhesive. Then you install any wiring, outlet boxes and switches that are required for each wall in the designated spots. After that, the space can be filled with layers of insulation before drywall encloses the space and your walls are essentially up. Sounds easy, but working with electricity, heavy lumber and sheets of drywall can be a daunting task. The list of steps below outlines the process of adding insulation to a basement renovation.

  • Applying moisture barrier – Insulation will first be attached to the foundations walls by applying an adhesive in an “S”-type pattern as sheets of extruded polystyrene insulation are pressed vertically into place. This will form a nice moisture barrier between the foundation and your studs. Construction grade should be used to connect these sheets.
  • Installing the soleplate and top all plate – These are your foundation studs that run horizontally along the floor and ceiling that will give you something to attach your vertical studs to. The soleplate should be installed with professional grade glue and to can install the top wall plate with 3 &1/2” nails.
  • Building the wall stud framework – After the floor and ceiling studs are in place, you will apply the heavy duty glue to one edge of each vertical stud and space them 18-24” apart, over the polystyrene moisture barrier. As the glue quickly dries and holds them in place, they can be permanently secure to the floor and ceiling studs.
  • Plan your electrical connections – This step can be a combination of your creativity and a professional electrician’s experience. Basically you would plan the room as you’d like the lighting and electrical outlets to be spaced and then a licensed electrician will come in and advise if your plan is feasible. This is the time when changes can and should be made if needed.
  • Wiring the room – This step should also be reserved for an electrician, but if you are mechanically inclined and have the experience, attaching the outlet/switch boxes and wiring should not be all that difficult. For adding breakers to the breaker box, it is highly recommended to bring in a professional as this can be extremely dangerous.
  • Adding insulation – At this point you have all the interior working of your electrical components connected and attached to breakers. There should be a layer of polystyrene moisture barrier attached to your foundation walls and now it is time to fill the spaces between each stud with fiberglass insulation. The homeowner can buy rolls of this insulation at any local hardware store and cutting it to fit should not be a difficult task. Fiberglass insulation does come with inhalation hazards, so you should always wear a breathing mask when working with it.
  • Hanging drywall – The next step would be to attach the drywall to each wall with nails or screws along each stud. This task can be difficult due to the awkward size and shape of the drywall sheets, so it is best to have a couple extra sets of hands if you are planning to do this with a contractor. Professionals like The Renos Pros can bring a crew to knock out this portion of the project in a matter of hours, which you may find is a good use of some of your budget.
  • Finishing the walls – This is the final step that entails taping and mudding the drywall seams and a few rounds of sanding and smoothing the surface to make it is ready for priming and painting.

These are the basic steps in creating a basement wall with the needed insulation to keep out moisture and the cold temperatures of a Toronto winter. It is important to note that if at any point the homeowner gets stuck on one of the above mentioned steps, there are many contractors and resources that can come in and help you get over the hump. Contractors like The Reno Pros will be more than happy to assist with your basement renovation.