More and more renovated homes are reclaiming their basements. The room in the home that has traditionally been used as a laundry room, storage room or workshop space now has a modern purpose; the home theater room.
A DIY home theater is the perfect solution to an old problem – where can the latest technology- be it a Victrola grammophone or a high definition plasma TV screen- be placed in the home without causing noise and distractions, while at the same time incorporating personal space. The basement is the answer, but there are a few things to look out for and consider.
Factors to Consider
There are a number of factors that you have to consider when you decide to construct a home theater in your basement, including the following:
- Basement Moisture – If you are locating any electrical equipment in your basement at all this should be your first priority. In fact it should be your first priority if you have a basement anyway, because flooding and damp can undermine the structural security of your home. However, when electrical equipment is involved, you can have real safety issues on your hands, not to mention liability, so make sure that your basement is dry and waterproof, and also that you have used a good basement sealant if necessary and before beginning your home theater. More: Basement Dampness
- Size of the Room- This will determine how many viewers you can accommodate, how much seating you have, and size of the screen. For any given screen size, there is an optimum distance for seating to be located. For High Definition formats, which allow better definition, seating can be as close as twice the diagonal screen size. For standard TV and non-HD formats, you’ll need at least three or four times the diagonal screen measurement as minimum distance to seating, otherwise things will look fuzzy and you’ll be uncomfortable when watching. Don’t forget that the larger you make your room, the more powerful the sound system and speakers you will need.
- Room Shape- Rooms that are perfectly square or long and narrow rectangular shapes will are prone to “standing waves,” which result in uneven sound across the frequency range. Don’t assume you can fix standing-wave problems using electronic equalization gizmos in your home theatre AV unit. It is far easier to design a rectangular shape room with length, width and height that are not evenly divisible. Example: BAD room = 24 x 12 x 6 ft.; GOOD room = 25 x 13 x 7 feet.
- Materials- If your basement room has cement walls and floor, it will sound echo-y and boomy, like a school gym. For concrete floor, covering it by installing wood sub-floor and a carpet will offer good sound dampening. Similarly, cement walls need to be covered with stud framing and drywall or wood panels. You can also add some soundproofing while installing the wall and floor coverings, either through the use of fibreglass insulation or special ½ inch thick sound board. Acoustical tile is also an option to consider, especially for the ceiling. More: Basement Flooring Solutions, Installation of Sheetrock
- Furnishings – Soft furnishings, like carpeting, leather sofa, drapery, will help to absorb noise, which adds to the appeal of your basement home theater, whereas hard furnishings like wooden chairs, glass tabletops and metal anything, will reflect the noise and may cause a problem for you in regards the neighbours.
- The focal point of the room – Consider the layout of the room before you put anything in there. The focal point of the room should be the TV, especially if you are having a large plasma screen, so plan out where you will place it and how the remaining furniture will be laid out round it.
- Accessibility- A home theater basement should always be accessible from a good point within the home. For example, it may be off the lounge or the main entrance. It should be safe and easy to get to. Doorway openings and stairway widths should be able to accommodate your guests. You should also make sure that the room is well ventilated. Not only is this a part of building regulation code these days but it will also enhance your own comfort.
Photo by Jason Meredith, Creative Commons Attribution License