All too often, basements sit as musty, dusty, mostly-unusedWhat to Do Before You Finish Your Basement spaces where holiday decorations and long-forgotten toys, books, and workout equipment go to hide. Some families are saying no more to this wasted space and are remodeling their basements to make them part of their everyday lives. An updated basement can become a beautiful guest bedroom suite, a quiet yoga/meditation space, a convenient home office, or a playroom to keep the kids from getting underfoot. No matter what you have in mind for your basement remodeling project, there are a few things to think about before you finish your basement.

Before You Finish Your Basement, Think of These Things

Water Is Not Your Friend

While moisture is to be expected in any low-lying area such as a basement, this is one issue that absolutely must be resolved before you move forward with any sort of renovation. Putting up drywall or laying down flooring over an area that’s moist or prone to flooding will create huge problems and cost you major money down the road, so address any water issues now. This means filling up any cracks or holes, as well as laying down a vapor barrier to thoroughly check for leaks before proceeding.

Carefully Consider Flooring

In addition to being damp, basements are often quite cold — particularly the floors. You’d be surprised how much cold can radiate from a concrete floor, even if you’re wearing socks and shoes. Especially if you plan to spend time in the space during the winter months, you need to think about what kind of flooring will work best for your purposes before you finish your basement. Engineered wood requires you to install a subfloor, which makes it an expensive option, but also provides an excellent layer of insulation. Luxury vinyl also works well if you want a good combination of affordability, insulation, and utility. For a basement that’s destined to be a playroom, rubber flooring is one great option (it’s soft and waterproof), while carpet squaring is another (as the squares are easily replaced if stained or damaged).

Think Hard About Your Layout

What will your new basement space be used for? Will it be a workout room or a mother-in-law suite? Carefully planning your layout before you finish your basement will ensure that you can build the space out in a way to best achieve your goals. If you plan to move in workout equipment and need space to move around, putting up additional walls may not make sense. For a bedroom that will double as a home office, you may want to segment things off into separate areas — one for working and one for sleeping so that the area can be used for two things at once. There’s nothing more frustrating than remodeling an area of your home and not getting the most your of your project, so really think about what you can do to ensure that your new basement space will be user-friendly once it’s finished.

Don’t Forget the Creature Comforts

Building out a basement involves much more than simply insulating the walls and installing new flooring. You’ll also need to make sure that the space is comfortable for anyone spending time down there. Plan ahead so that you can include lighting in your design. Recessed canisters work well to disperse a natural glow throughout, but this will involve installing a drop ceiling. Also make sure to tie the basement into your HVAC system so that the area is properly heated and cooled — important for sweaty summertime workouts or snoozing in a basement guest suite during the depths of winter. By putting careful thought into what steps you need to take before you finish your basement, you’ll ensure that the finished product is one that’s used often, as well as dry and problem-free down the road!