Basement – The Front Wall

So I’ve been working on my basement. Laying down a new floor. Putting up walls. Running electrical wires. Changing things around. When I bought the place it looked like this, only without all the stuff.

picture from the listing
picture from the listing

Bedroom, bathroom, laundry, storage room, and a couple four closets; all done in that fabulous wood paneling and with the carpet glued down onto the cement. I made some changes. The bedroom is still there, but I put up a couple walls and added two more. The bathroom, laundry, and storage room are all still here, but they’ve been modified a bit. The closets, well, those are gone. But in all my changes, there was one wall that I left alone. One wall that I thought would just be easier to not change. One paneled wall that I figured could just be painted. The wall at the front of the basement at the stairwell.
So here we have some panelling
So here we have some panelling

It doesn’t look bad in this picture, but you can tell it’s not perfect. Behind that pile of drywall and foam board, there is some damage down near the floor. The seams bulge a little and the whole wall has more give than it should, both due to the lack of adequate studding behind those panels. But I thought I could make it work.
So we, Lady Ronn and I, filled the holes, sunk the popped nails, put some primer on the paneling, and intended to call it good. I’ll be, and was, the first one to say it looked like complete and utter dog shit.
Dog shit, I tell you.
As I told, Lady Ronn, people are going to come down into the basement. This beautiful basement that we’ve put all this work into. And rather than saying how nice it looks. How good it looks. What they’re going to say is, “So, you painted over the paneling.” Which everyone will know, is a nice way of saying, “This wall looks like dog shit!”
So I made the decision to tear it all out and do it right. This is more complicated than it sounds, but I’ll get to that later. I tore down the paneling, removed the rather inadequate ‘vapor barrier’ (don’t get me started), and pulled the old 1×3 off the wall. Sorry, no pictures of any of that. And that’s where I’ll pick up the tale…
The old 1×3 were nailed in with concrete nails, which work and I have used them in the past. But I have a Duo-Fast DF-27 fastening tool, which uses .27 caliber charges to shoot nails into the concrete. Which is both super-cool and easy-as-hell, however, it tends to split the 1×3. Not a big deal, because mostly I’m wanting these studs to hold the glue I’m going to use on the drywall.
studding the wall
studding the wall

My studs are up. Sure they’re not perfect. Maybe not completely plumb and level. Hell, most of them weren’t straight to begin with. I may have slapped them up with construction adhesive and 2-inch nails. (You want your nails to be an inch longer than whatever your nailing through with one of these tools.) But they’re up. There’s more of them. They’ll do what I need them to do.
Of course, what I didn’t think about was how my not quite straight studs would affect putting up my foam board. Let’s just say, it made it more difficult.
Foam board is pretty easy stuff to work with. Like drywall, to cut it you just score one side and then snap it. Only, unlike drywall, when you snap it it goes all the way through and breaks off. Then if you need to clean it up or shave it down you can use a knife for the larger bits and I use my drywall rasp to smooth out the rough edges.
I have an electric hot knife for cutting foam board, but unless I’m cutting holes or curves, it’s pretty unnecessary. And even holes can be done with a razor knife or drywall saw, though the drywall saw does leave lots of little foam bits floating around that take advantage of static electricity to cling to you.
foam insulation installation
foam insulation installation

Once you’ve got all your foam board cut and fitted in place, it’s time to glue it to the wall. Just run a squiggly bead down the wall or over the back of the foam, doesn’t matter which, and push the foam back into place. Don’t use just regular old construction adhesive for this. You need to use foam board adhesive, it’s different. Regular adhesive will burn, or melt, the foam and will not hold worth a shit. I know, you’re going to be putting drywall over this, so who cares. Well, I care. So use the right glue and you won’t compromise your foam.
Once the foam board is up, it’s a good idea to take a can of spray foam and fill all the gaps in your coverage. This will ensure that you have no pockets for air and moisture to get in and cause problems. Once it’s dry, you can cut off the excess flush to your wall.
putting up the drywall
putting up the drywall

Once that’s all done you hang your drywall. Which can be a little bit of a pain in the ass, because even with 1-inch screws, you still hit the concrete sometimes. And of course, I hit the empty spots where my fasteners split the wood more often than probability would seem to allow for. Which is why I used a nice healthy bead of drywall adhesive on the studs. My screws are mostly just there to hold the drywall in place until the glue dries.
So two things.
Yes, that large white spot on the floor is where I flipped freshly filled paint tray full of primer. It’ll be covered by carpet, you’ll never know it is there.
That section of wall, there on the left, that’s going to be a special project. See, my stairwell is just 36-inches wide, and it’s paneled on both sides. Paneling is considerably thinner than drywall, by say 3/8-inch. So in order to maintain a 36-inch stairwell I have to leave the paneling. And by leaving the paneling, I have to ‘blend’ the paneling with the drywall. So that section of wall there; that’s where the magic happens. That’ll be today’s project and the subject of my next DIY post. Later.

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