07:07AM | 08/10/01
Member Since: 04/05/01
32 lifetime posts
I've got a room in the basement that I want to finish soon, but I've got some questions about how to approach it. The room is about 13'6" X 17'8", painted concrete walls (some paint peeling), wooden slat flooring (1/2" strips directly on the floor, not sure how they are affixed but they seem quite firmly attached), brick fireplace centered at the end of the room, and 2 windows, 1 in middle of long wall, the other is to the right of the fireplace. The house is 55 years old and there seems to be some moisture coming up in the furnace room, seeping up between the tiles, but it's not too bad. I don't even have a sump pump and I don't think that the basement has ever flooded. The room has a furnace register and I plan on installing a gas fireplace within the wood-burning one. Here are my questions:

1. Should I remove the wood flooring, build my walls on top of it, or remove the flooring only where my bottom plate will go? Should I take steps to seal the floor (removing the flooring would be necessary) or just leave it as it is.

2. I want to install carpet in the room and also out in the hall, which has no wooden slats on the floor. What do I need to do to make sure the carpet can be installed? Do I need a subfloor or will it install right over the concrete. Could moisture be a problem, and would the slat flooring be enough to protect the underpad and carpeting?

3. I want to install pot lights in the ceiling. Do I have to worry about the heat from them damaging or warping the flooring above (oak flooring)?

4. Should I put a moisture barrier on the walls? I'll be using 2x3 or 2x4s and likely the rigid foam insulation.

5. I only have one window on the wall with my fireplace. Any suggestions how to balance it out? I have thought about building shelving into that end, but I'm not sure how it would look with just one window.

Any other suggestions or comments would be appreciated.




01:04PM | 08/12/01
Member Since: 11/14/00
333 lifetime posts
It is not unheard of to not have any moisture problems even without a sump pump. Your house is probably located at or near the top of a hill or a slope, far above the water table.

To check for furnace room moisture, tape a 3-ft by 3-ft. sheet of plastic down to the floor with duct tape and leave it for a few days. Do the same on the wood floor to check for moisture problems there. If the water is coming upwards, you will see water condensed on the plastic. Otherwise, it is probably moist next to the furnace for other reasons (say, a drip somewhere that you have not detected).

You CAN frame non-supporting walls and put carpet on top of wood flooring. However, I would NOT do the framing on them. I would install the bottom plate on the concrete subfloor. On the other hand, I WOULD install the carpet on top of the wood floors so as to preserve options for the next owner and make the project easier for you.
You need not seal the floor if you do not have a moisture problem. The carpet padding can be placed right on the wood floors. You can also lay sheets of plywood down on the exposed concrete to level the subfloor where there are no wood slats. Doing so will also make the carpet feel more comfortable.

The lights should not hurt the upstairs floor so long as you install them properly with adequate ventilation on the sides. You can add some ductboard (dense fiberglass adhered to a sheet of metal foil) above the light with the foil side facing down to distribute the heat and protect the flooring if you are really that concerned.

The foundation walls probably already have a moisture barrier on the outside. Generally, you need not consider adding moisture barrier unless you think you have a problem. Because you will use insulation, you might want to place a vapor barrier between the heated room and the foam insulation. Doing so will prevent the moist warm air inside from condensing inside the insulation, where the temperature drops to meet the outside temperature during winter. However, it is not as necessary in a basement because the temperature differential between the interior and exterior foundation rarely is so great as to allow condensation inside the walls. Vapor barriers are absolutely necessary on exterior walls above grade, but not so much below-grade.



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