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6 Tips for Renovating Your Basement

There are a number of reasons to renovate your basement. Perhaps you’re courting downstairs tenants in an attempt to ease your mortgage payments, and need to spruce the place up for liveability. Perhaps you’ve always wanted a rec room, and you view the basement as the perfect blank slate for all your fun ideas. Or maybe you just want to renovate your basement because it’s part of the home – you paid for it at the price of the house, after all, so you might as well make something of it!

Whatever your reasons for renovating the basement, you have to approach the project a little differently than aboveground projects. For starters, in everything you do, you need to consider one key feature: lighting. If the basement is to be a liveable, relaxing, and functioning part of the home, you have to make sure it feels as airy and well lit as above-ground rooms.

Secondly, you have to work from the ground up (literally and figuratively) to conceptualize what you want from your basement. Whereas aboveground rooms tend to come with a purpose already in mind – the living room, the kitchen, the bedrooms, the bathroom, etc. – a basement can be whatever you want it to be. That openness is exciting, but, in the wrong hands, it can lead to a messy and confusing final product.

Finally, there are other important considerations when dealing with a basement: moisture control, safety, humidity, and aesthetics. With all those considerations in mind, here are seven tips for renovating your basement.

Go in With a Detailed Game Plan

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The enemy of renovating is poor planning. That’s how you wind up going over budget, with a non-coherent final product that doesn’t live up to your expectations. Before anything else, build a detailed game plan including the following:

  • A project budget – set a budget for renovations, but be sure to also budget an extra 10-15% for unexpected costs.
  • A timeline – based on the amount of work to be done, and taking into account the individual steps, create a timeline.
  • Have a vision of what you want – every decision-maker in the home should agree upon the overall look and function of the final basement. Have fun with this step: create a vision board, mock up some drawings and make a list of must-haves.
  • Research contractors – Once you know the individual renovations, research the best companies like EpoxyFlooringMiami to get the job done. If you’re installing windows and doors (as discussed below,) research the best window and door company in your area.

The more you plan ahead, the fewer surprises there will be down the road and the happier you’ll be with the final look, price, and function of your new basement.

For Light, Ventilation, Energy Efficiency and Safety, Install New Windows

As mentioned in the intro, light is supremely important to an enjoyable basement. So are moisture control, safety, and efficiency. For a renovation that ticks all the above boxes, look to the windows.

New basement egress windows provide a basement with much-needed light, making it feel less like a dingy afterthought and more like a fully formed floor of your home. They’re also instrumental in ventilation; mold build-up in a basement is harmful, so installing multiple windows for cross-ventilation is recommended. Finally, windows make a basement safe; for a basement room to legally qualify as safe and complete, it needs a window exit.

When deciding on new windows, make energy efficiency a priority. Efficient windows from keep heat in and cold out, meaning you get a more comfortable basement without overpaying on your energy bill.

Choose Light Coloured Paint and Features

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Basement windows can get you most of the way toward a bright basement, but you may need some added help in the form of – let’s call it – optical trickery. Rather than choose dim, dark colors in your basement, which can make the space feel cramped and claustrophobic, reach for light paint.

White walls, along with bright accents and light-colored furniture, helps reinforce the impression of openness and airiness. To add lighting to your basement, go with pot lights – their low profile design works best in spaces with low ceilings, where they add light without being obstructive.

Go Open Concept

Despite your efforts with new windows and light-colored paint, natural light is still a hot commodity in the basement. It makes little sense, therefore, to have dividers and separate rooms that compartmentalize light. When dealing with the basement, go open concept, and share the light around.

Not only will going open concept will result in a brighter, more open space, but it’s also likely to fetch a higher ROI.

To Prevent Costly Floor Warping, Ditch the Hardwood Idea

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Everyone loves a modern hardwood floor. Compared to the greying carpets of old, they’re sleeker, cleaner, and more sophisticated. Unfortunately, in the basement, they just aren’t that great an idea.

While it’s entirely possible to have hardwood floors in your basement, expect some warping due to the excess humidity and moisture absorption. Better options include vinyl or ceramic tiles, rubber flooring, cork and “engineered hardwood”. Of these, vinyl comes the closest to mimicking the look of a hardwood floor without being prohibitively expensive.

Consider Heated Floors

The floors of a basement aren’t known for being warm and inviting. Their proximity to the ground means that the floors will probably have a cold, clammy feeling underfoot. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but remedying the issue also isn’t that bad. If you’re putting in new floors anyways, consider heated floors.

Heated floors – also called radiant heating – are nothing more than heated tubing that networks through foam panels under the flooring. There is a way you can do most of the installation yourself, but it’s typically a job requiring an expert installer.

Don’t neglect the basement, just because it’s hidden downstairs. Whether you’re renovating for tenants, resale value, or strictly for your own enjoyment, follow these tips to make your basement as fantastic as possible.

About Matt Durham