As your family grows and your life expands, you may find yourself looking for some additional space. Maybe you need an extra guest suite for the holidays, a pet-friendly play area, or a home gym. No matter what, if you’ve got a little-used basement, you have an excellent opportunity to remodel and expand.
As you peer down the stairs into the potentially musty, dusty space, you may be wondering how to remodel a dark basement. Here’s how to get started with finishing your basement, as well as a few things to keep in mind throughout the process.
If your basement has problems with moisture or water leaks, it’s absolutely essential to repair these issues and waterproof the space before moving forward. Building over existing water problems doesn’t create an “out of sight, out of mind” solution; rather, it’s a recipe for having even worse issues with water damage, mold, and mildew down the road.
This means repairing any cracks in your home’s foundation that may be allowing water to seep into your basement. Installing a vapor barrier in the floors and walls will help protect them after you’ve finished them out. (We advise waiting and watching for a few days after installing the vapor barrier to make sure you definitely have all water intrusion under control).
When you remodel a dark basement and turn it into a space full of warmth and light, a big part of this is choosing the right flooring. Although it will add expense to transform it from a cold, concrete basement floor to more foot-friendly flooring, you’ll thank yourself when the space feels properly insulated and comfortable, especially during the cold winter months.
The kind of flooring you’ll choose will depend on how you plan to use the remodeled space. If you’d like to turn your basement into a second living room, hardwood floors can work well. Opt for engineered wood rather than natural hardwood, however; it will hold up much better if it’s exposed to moisture. For a workout room or a kid-friendly playroom, rubber flooring works well and keeps your feet warm and comfortable.
Carpeting is the ideal way to keep things toasty, but it’s best to opt for carpeting squares, as they’re easily pulled up and replaced should a leak occur down the road. For a maintenance-free basement flooring option that’s child- and pet-friendly, look for luxury vinyl. It’s better-insulated than standard vinyl and costs a fraction of what you’d pay for cold, hard tile or natural stone.
Especially if you live in an area with extreme winter weather, basements can be damp and chilly. As you remodel a dark basement, remember that you want the space to be usable in the winter, as well as the rest of the year when the weather is more mild. No one wants to have to deal with space heaters when they go downstairs to work out or watch a movie; they aren’t very effective and they’re fire hazards. Make sure to tie your basement into your existing HVAC system or furnace so that you’ll have proper heating there all year round.
Finally, one of the biggest challenges when you remodel a dark basement is that it’s, well, dark down there. Be sure to choose a light color palette for your wall paint to brighten things up. In addition to this, install all the lighting you possibly can. If the ceiling is finished out, recessed lighting canisters are the best choice to make sure the space is well-lit. If not, shop for wall fixtures and floor lamps that will give you and your family ample illumination to relax, work, play, and completely enjoy your brand-new basement space.