A second living roomWaterproofing and More: How to Prepare Your Basement for Finishing, a man cave, a playroom, or a guest suite: no matter how you plan to remodel your basement, it’s important to take the proper steps to ensure that the finished product is dry, cozy, and ready to be enjoyed for years to come.

As you transform your basement from a cold, damp, storage space into a warm, inviting recreational area or guest room, here are three tips you need to know to prepare your basement for finishing.

How to Prepare Your Basement for Finishing

1. Take Care of the Moisture

One of the biggest potential problems in remodeling a basement is battling dampness. Some basements will constantly feel damp or have obvious signs of water intrusion. If you don’t notice these things, but still aren’t certain if moisture is an issue, perform this test. Cut 2-foot squares of plastic sheeting and tape them to the floor. Check them after two weeks to see if condensation has collected underneath them.

If you find condensation under the sheeting or have noticed other signs of moisture, you’ll need to take steps to combat it before finishing out the space. Check for and repair any cracks in your foundation, as well as in the basement floors and walls. If the floors and walls of your basement aren’t sealed, this is also a must.

You may also need to take steps to keep rainwater from running towards and pooling around your home. This can be accomplished through the installation of gutters and downspouts, as well as sloping your yard in a way that causes water to drain away from the home.

2. Keep Things Dry and Cozy

Once water intrusion is under control, it’s a good idea to install a vapor barrier to both the walls and floors before you prepare your basement for finishing.

Even if you’re certain that you’ve plugged all holes, filled all cracks, and thoroughly sealed the entire area, lay the vapor barrier down and check it after a couple of days before installing anything over it. This way, you’ll be assured that there’s no further moisture buildup before finishing things out. Even if everything is sealed up tight, you may still want to consider offsetting interior finish walls from the exterior walls by installing thin strips of metal or wood called “furring strips.”

For true comfort in your newly-remodeled basement space, don’t skip the insulation. Insulation that features a moisture barrier on both sides will add an extra layer of moisture protection, but you can also install spray foam insulation.

3. Let There Be Light (and Warmth)!

Basements lack two things that are essential for true comfort: natural lighting and warmth. As you prepare your basement for finishing, plan out what kind of lighting you can install to brighten things up. Also, especially if you live in a place where the temperatures drop in the winter, you’ll need to plan an effective way to heat the space.

For starters, consider installing a drop ceiling in your updated basement space. This will help cover up an unattractive, unfinished ceiling, but it will also give you the ability to install recessed lighting anywhere you like.

Next, you’ll need to plan to have a really great heat source. Space heaters can be dangerous and don’t make sense if you’re going through the process of actually remodeling and finishing out the room. Instead, link into your HVAC system. Because hot air rises, install baseboard heaters to warm the space from the bottom up.

Every construction project requires careful planning, whether you’re building an addition or remodeling a basement. By taking the appropriate steps to prepare your basement for finishing, you’ll turn your basement into a space that will truly add value to your home.A basement remodel will allow you to create that space you’ve always envisioned, and take your home to the next level.