Preventing Basement Moisture and Mold

basement moldMany homeowners make a substantial investment in basement finishing only to have their new finished basements damaged or destroyed by water damage or mold.  Luckily, this misfortune is largely preventable with good planning and proper construction.  These tips on preventing basement moisture and mold will help you to enjoy your finished basement for years to come without worrying about potential water or mold damage.

Drainage

Your basement is unique from any other room in the sense that it’s underground.  Think of it as a concrete box surrounded by wet soil on all sides, and you’ll get the picture.  When rainwater from even a small storm isn’t diverted properly away from the house, water can easily accumulate.  Ensure that your gutters are clean and in good repair, and that downspouts are diverting water away from your foundation.

One issue with basement finishing Toronto homeowners face is a substantial amount of annual snowfall and subsequent runoff water that saturates the soil.  If groundwater is problematic, a French drain could be a good option.  Talk to your basement finishing contractor about whether this could be a problem in your area, and to discuss potential solutions.

Insulation

Basement insulation has a tendency to accumulate condensation and develop mold growth, so proper insulation is critical to preventing basement mold damage.

Rigid foam board is made of polystyrene, polyisocyanurate (polyiso) and polyurethane.  It is not only highly efficient, but also keeps water vapor in its gaseous state, preventing moisture accumulation.  A vapor barrier may also be helpful.

Minimizing the Potential for Water Damage

Even proper construction cannot prevent the occasional accidental basement flooding.  For this reason, it’s still important to minimize the damage of a potential flood by selecting appropriate flooring.  Stained concrete, tile, laminate flooring and engineered wood are also potential options for finished basement flooring, as they don’t absorb moisture can withstand a certain amount of water damage.

If you’re currently finishing your basement or have had basement moisture issues in the past, we’d love to hear your own ideas and experiences.  Tell us all about it in the comments section.

Planning Your Basement Renovation

Basement-Remodeling-InteriorBasements represent an untapped resource in most homes, as they’re typically left unfinished and used haphazardly for storage and/or as a storm shelter.  Basement renovation, also known as basement finishing, makes your basement into usable space for any number of applications.  However, any basement finishing job should be carefully planned from the beginning.  These basic considerations will get your basement remodeling project off on the right foot.

Why Basement Renovation?

Basements are typically equivalent to about 30% of a home’s square footage, comprising an average of 600-800 square feet.  If you’re feeling cramped in your current living space, basement finishing can substantially increase your usable square footage, and finished  basements can be used as living space.  Alternatively, if you’d like specialized space for your hobbies or other interests, a finished basement can be customized to meet your specific needs without compromising your currently available square footage.

Waterproofing

One of the biggest concerns for finished basements is the potential for water damage.  Because any major pluming mishaps present a flooding threat for your basement, it’s important that your flooring, paneling and insulation are waterproof or at least water-resistant.  Additionally, insulation should prevent moisture accumulation from humidity.

 Identifying you Priorities

Develop your basement floor plan carefully before beginning your project, potentially with the help of a professional.  Luckily for basement finishing Toronto homeowners have many excellent contractors available.  Consider what potential uses you’re developing your basement for, and develop a floor plan that meets your priorities.

 Professional or DIY Basement Finishing?

You should also decide which (if any) aspects of your basement finishing projects are best left to professionals.  If you’re not an experienced handyman, you may want to hire at least some aspects of the job done.  If you’re interested in DIY basement finishing, plan accordingly by selecting design features that can be installed cheaply and easily.

Basement renovation can be very rewarding, and increases your home’s resale value and your family’s enjoyment of it.  If you plan your project carefully, you’ll have a new space to enjoy for years to come.

Are you currently in the process of remodeling your basement, or planning a basement renovation?  If so, we’d love your input and ideas in the comment section.

DIY Basement Finishing

basement-finishing-contractorIf you’re looking to make better use of your basement without breaking the bank, a partial basement renovation may be the best option.  You can also save money by doing part or all of your basement renovation on your own.

 Here we discuss some potential basement renovation options that will make your basement more inviting, but are also inexpensive and easy to install.  For a cheap basement renovation, you may also opt to only install some of the options and leave other features unchanged.

 DIY Basement Flooring

 The most important aspect for any basement floor option is that it be waterproof in the event of a flood.  This protects your investment and helps to prevent costly water damage.

Stained concrete is among the cheapest and easiest basement flooring options.  This involves prepping the surface such that it is smooth and doesn’t show seams using a sander and perhaps a thin layer of special finisher concrete, and then applying a specialized concrete stain and sealant.

If you’re looking for a more advanced but inexpensive option, laminate flooring is another potential basement flooring option.  Advanced amateurs can typically install laminate flooring, but if you’re inexperienced in home repair it may be best left to professionals.  For basement renovation Toronto homeowners have many excellent basement remodeling contractors available.

 DIY Basement Walls

 Simply painting bare walls can significantly improve you basement’s appearance, and the color scheme can be customized to your personal preference.  This is an easy job even if you’re fairly inexperienced in home renovation, and can usually be completed within a day or two.

For a more polished but inexpensive look, you can also use wooden side panels or house siding.  These options are typically a few hundred dollars, and are easily installed by intermediate amateurs.

 DIY Basement Ceilings

 Exposed ceiling are actually quite stylish at the moment, so a simple coat of paint could be an excellent finished basement ceiling option.  We recommend opting for darker colors that minimize contrast.  A paint sprayer might make this job easier.  Most local hardware stores offer fairly inexpensive paint sprayer rental.

If you’re after a more polished look, you can also install a drop ceiling, similar to those seen in office buildings and schools.  This is easily installed by most amateurs, but if you don’t have much home renovation and repair experience, it may be best to consult a professional.

We’d love to hear about your own DIY basement finishing experiences and ideas as a homeowner.  Tell us all about it in the comments section.

Basement Flooring

basement flooring solutionBasement flooring is an important component of basement finishing, basement renovation and basement remodel.  However, basement flooring requires some special considerations, and should be chosen carefully.  The primary practical concern with basement flooring is flooding, whether natural or man-made.  Any basement flooring should be waterproof and able to dry out with little or no damage in the event of a flood.

The following options are ideal for basement flooring. Your decision will depend upon your home’s design, your personal preferences, your finished basement’s intended usage and your budget.

Concrete

Concrete, whether painted or stained, is the most simple basement flooring option.  Stained concrete is increasingly popular, and inexpensive and easy to care for.  However, concrete is the coldest flooring option, and some homeowners still prefer more traditional flooring.

Tile

Tile is an excellent option for finished basements, as it is highly waterproof, can be installed directly on the slab with uncoupling membrane, can be heated and is considered to be a fully finished surface.  Tile and grout color can also be selected to match any decor or color scheme.

Vinyl

Vinyl, or resilient, flooring, is another excellent option as it is waterproof and easy to maintain.  Sheet vinyl flooring yields a uniform surface that is impervious to standing water, while tile vinyl flooring gives a look similar to ceramic tile but can be problematic if standing water remains for long.  Vinyl flooring is also more economical in comparison to tile.

 Laminate

Laminate flooring offers a variety of designs and colors and can be waterproof and non-waterproof. You should follow manufacturer recommendation for which areas the particular laminate is used best. Laminate flooring must be installed over a sub-floor so is warmer than other options, but can also cause a hollow feeling under your feet.

Carpet

Carpeting may be preferred particularly for basement apartments, as it allows a plush, homey feeling and is the warmest flooring option.  However, carpeting can be difficult to dry out in the event of a severe flood, so this option should be carefully considered.

 Engineered Wood Flooring

Traditional wood flooring can be a dangerous option for basement flooring, as any flooding will cause catastrophic damage.  However, engineered wood flooring consists of a real wood veneer glued over a plywood base, and is waterproof in light flooding.  This is one of the most attractive basement flooring options, but is relatively expensive.

Flooring dramatically impacts a room’s decor and general ambiance, so should be chosen carefully.  Moreover, basement flooring has some practical needs that must be taken into account.  Discuss potential options with your basement remodeling contractor to find the best fit for your project.  Many Toronto basement renovation specialists are available to assist you in your basement remodel.

What Exactly is a Finished Basement?

services_basementsThe term “finished basement” has become somewhat of a buzz word as of late, and is often tossed around as a selling point.  As such, the definition has become somewhat muddied, and there’s a lot of confusion as to what exactly constitutes a finished basement.  It’s important to be aware of these distinctions as a homeowner looking to remodel, or as a potential home buyer.

Independent Point of Egress

Most provinces and local ordinances require an independent exit (i.e. not through the main house) for a basement to be considered fully finished.  This is mostly for safety concerns, and also makes the basement more convenient and user friendly.  To meet building code in Toronto finished basements must have a separate exit.  Many building codes also require windows, and some also require at least a half bath.

Finished Basement Design

Most new homes are sold with unfinished basements, wherein the floor is concrete, the ceiling is exposed and the walls are bare cinder block.  In order for a basement to be considered fully finished, all of this must change.  There are many basement ceiling options, but the bottom line is that the ceiling must not be exposed.  Basement flooring is also important: carpeting, vinyl flooring, linoleum flooring, engineered wood flooring, stained concrete or tiling are all options depending upon your home’s decor.  The walls must also be covered and painted.

Climate Control

In order to be fully livable, a finished basement must be insulated, heated and cooled.  New homes vary in the degree of climate control already present, so the amount of work necessary to meet this requirement will vary.

Building Code and Legal Concerns

For Toronto basement remodeling, electrical code, plumbing and fire safety must all be carefully observed, particularly if you are considering renting out a basement apartment.  It may be a good idea to find a contractor experienced in basement finishing, so that you can be sure that your finished basement meets code.  Also, when the time comes to sell your home, a professionally remodeled basement that fully meets building codes will be attractive to appraisers and potential buyers alike.  Fortunately for basement finishing Toronto has many well-qualified contractors.

Basement finishing has many benefits, and can increase your home’s value as well as livable square footage.  However, it’s a big job, and it’s important to find a well-qualified contractor and manage your project carefully.

Finished Basements Apartment Design

If you are looking to generate some extra income, renting out a finished basement apartment may be an excellent option.  Toronto real estate prices are currently very high, meaning that the extra rent generated could potentially be very profitable.  However, it is important to design finished basements appropriately so that they will be convenient and desirable to tenants.

Floor Plan

Basement planningYour first concern should be convenience for you and your future tenants.  This will vary based upon your home’s floor plan and upon your personal preferences.  You should design the floor plan and points of egress such that a tenant can come and go with minimal disturbance to the rest of the household, and preferably such that a full bath and laundry facilities are available within the basement.

It may be best to consult a professional to make sure that you’re going about things properly.  Fortunately for basement renovations Toronto residents have many qualified basement design professionals available.

Design and Decorating

Finished basements are of course an absolute must, and you will want to have a basement design that lends a homey feel but is also generic enough to appeal to a wide variety of tenants. Generally for finished basement flooring, carpeting lends a warm, home-like feel.  Neutral and complementary tones on the walls, door frames, baseboards and molding create a comfortable environment and coordinate nicely with most furnishings or other personal preferences that a tenant may have.

Again, it’s best to consult a professional if you are unsure here.  The last thing you want to do is invest in a basement remodel only to have it be unappealing to potential tenants and thus difficult to rent out.  Fortunately for basement renovation Toronto residents have many available qualified contractors.

Renting out your basement as an apartment may be an excellent way to generate extra income to help pay your mortgage, and a basement apartment can also increase your home’s resale value.  However, make sure that a basement apartment is compatible with your lifestyle, and plan your basement design carefully.