If you’ve got an unfinished basement, you have got a good candidate for an entertainment room, family room, workout facility, craft or wood shop. The only thing you have to do is finish it out.
First, Be Sure You are Water-Proofed
The first step you will want to do is to make sure that you have a fully waterproofed basement has been. You must ensure that there is no moisture coming through the basement floors or walls.
There are basement waterproofing companies out there that specialize in this and can come out to your home and make a survey with a moisture meter.
If you need some moisture proofing, the specialist will be able to provide that service or recommend a basement waterproofing service in your area. Once the entire basement passes muster, you can begin the process of framing a basement wall.
Framing Your Exterior Walls
You will do your wall framing with 2” X 4” lumber. Always select the straightest, truest boards. There are three parts to the wall – the bottom plate (horizontal, on the floor, against the concrete wall), the top plate (the bottom plate’s complement, nailed to the underside of the ceiling joists), and the studs (vertical, toenailed to the bottom plate and top plate).
Nail down your bottom plate. You can use a powder actuated nail gun which drives nails using a .22 caliber blank or with a hammer and concrete nails. The powder actuated gun is preferable; it will save you a lot of elbow grease and the simple ones that you fire by whacking it with a hammer are very inexpensive. ALWAYS use safety glasses.
Now nail up the top plate. Once again, there are two methods to do this; you can either hammer it up or use a nail gun. The nail gun is your best bet because hammering upside down gets old rather fast. Use two nails per ceiling joist. Unlike the bottom plate, you will have to cut the 2” X 4” every now and then to make it break in the middle of a joist.
Now, starting in a corner, stand up a stud against the wall between the top plate and bottom plate. Toe nail it to the top plate and the bottom plate.
Nail another stud to that stud, the 2” side of the first stud to the 4” side of the second.
Now nail a third stud so that its 2” side is also touching the 4” side of the first stud and its 4” side if contacting the 4” side of the second stud. It is a little hard to explain without illustrations but try it – the point is that the resulting intersection of the studs matches the intersection formed by the bottom and top plates (90 degrees). This is so your drywall will have nailing surfaces.
Filling in the Studs
Do the stud layout now. Starting with your tape measure on the floor in the corner, extend it along the bottom plate and mark the plate ever 16”. This will be the center of the stud. Continue around the basement.
It doesn’t matter what you end up with in each opposing corner; what counts is that you start with 16”. Go back to the corner you began at and cut the stud so that it fits snug but now bowing.
Toe nail it at the bottom, plumb it with a 4′ level and toe nail it at the top. Now you can hook your tape measure to that stud and mark the others on 16” and the rest of the studs should also be plumb.
Lay Out Your Electrical Outlets
Do you already have electrical outlets everywhere you need them on the perimeter walls? Most likely not if your basement is currently unfinished. Even if you have them they might need to be relocated so they can be secured to the framing studs.
Unless you are very familiar with electrical work, it is highly recommended that you consult with a licensed Journeyman Electrician. In addition, you probably need to secure an electrical permit from your city in order to install additional electrical circuits. Another thing to remember is that you will have to conform to your local building codes.
Building Your Interior Partitions
Interior basement walls are easier to build on the ground and stand up. Measure the floor to ceiling at several spots so that you can take the shortest height for the wall a use spacing shims where you need to.
Before you stand the wall framing up, strike a chalk line on the floor so you know where the wall goes. Use the 3-4-5 method to ensure that you are perpendicular with the exterior wall.
It the wall is going the opposite direction as the ceiling joists, there’s plenty to nail to. If not, you will need to add 2” X 4” nailers between the joists.