As anyone with a growing family will tell you, there's just never enough room in the home. For many, the key to accommodating everybody is building an additional room in the basement. If you are considering making this improvement to your house, read on. This article will outline two ways to ensure that your remodeling efforts are a success.
Calculate the room's dimensions to include a gap between concrete and wall studs.
The walls are the first things that are going to have to change to make your basement livable. After all, there's nothing very inviting about damp, chilly concrete walls. But before you get started framing your new walls, it's important to learn a little bit about a common problem often encountered by amateur remodelers--that is, building their new walls right up against the concrete.
This can lead to two serious problems. First of all, it may mean that you end up with crooked walls. To find out why, spend a little time in your basement with a level. Chances are you will quickly realize that those concrete walls are anything but straight. This is especially true of the angle where wall and floor intersect.
The second reason not to build flush against the concrete walls is that you will greatly increase your risk of damage due to moisture. You see, concrete is a porous substance, one that loves to suck up and transmit water. If the wooden frame of your new wall is touching it, you may find yourself battling things like mildew, mold and wood rot down the line.
Luckily, avoiding these problems is easy. Just leave a one inch gap between the concrete and your new wall. If you want to go one step farther, install a polyethylene vapor barrier between concrete and wall. This will provide a second layer of defense against damage due to moisture.
Protect against radon gas by patching floor cracks.
Moisture is by no means the only dangerous element commonly found in basement. Far more serious is radon gas. This radioactive substance occurs naturally in certain types of rock and soil. Though it does not pose a serious threat in small doses, it can build up in the confined space of a basement. At high doses, radon gas is a carcinogen that frequently leads to lung cancer.
The good news is that it's fairly easy to keep radon gas out of your home by patching any cracks found in your basement's walls and floor. Hairline cracks--those less than 1/8" in width--can be safely sealed using polyurethane. Anything wider than this will need to be addressed with a special sealant paint--one marketed especially for patching cracks against radon.
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