Low-Budget Basement Finishing

By Zoobia Ilyas

Every well-designed home should include a finished basement. The space can function as a spare bedroom, an entertainment area or a sitting room for visitors to mingle. Whatever its ultimate function, finishing a basement on a budget can be a challenge. If you decide to hire a contractor, ask for a quote beforehand. Save costs by handling minor projects yourself, and hire the contractor for bigger, more complex jobs.


When finishing basement walls, you have two options. The first option involves framing basement walls and installing drywall in the interior. The second option involves purchasing sheets of foam that can be cut with an oscillating tool and applied to unfinished concrete walls. Because foam sheets also provide insulation, the second option is less expensive. The foam has to be sealed to make the walls waterproof and to increase insulation. If you do not have experience building walls, consult with someone who does or hire a contractor.


Regardless of budget, a basement should be insulated to prevent heat loss. Consider fiberglass insulation for an inexpensive yet easy-to-install option. Or purchase rigid foam sheets and cut them down to size. Cell spray foam is another option; it expands after it is sprayed between studs, filling cracks and pockets. Install drywall afterward using a power driver and drywall screws.


An unfinished basement is usually made of concrete, which looks and feels cold. Replace a concrete floor with a soft, inviting carpet. Not only will carpeting feel better under bare feet, but it will also insulate the floor, keeping it dry. Easy to install carpet squares are sold with padding and a moisture-resistant coating underneath. Using a utility knife, cut the carpet squares to fit the area you wish to cover, fitting pieces tightly together. Vacuum the finished carpeting to blend any exposed seams and to eliminate loose fibers.


An unfinished basement likely has ceilings that reveal exposed rafters, pipes and wires. Install a drywall ceiling that offers a smooth finish; however, installing drywall in this location requires careful planning to accommodate plumbing and valves. Consider a dropped ceiling that offers access to any plumbing components above or an industrial ceiling in which the ceiling is simply spray painted to blend together aesthetically. However, do not attempt to construct a ceiling yourself unless you have experience. Consult a professional who can perform the job for you or guide you in the right direction.


Because basements are typically located underground with little access to natural light, install electric lighting throughout the space. Pot lights provide light from above, while sconces are usually installed against the wall. Halogen lighting is another option that will light a basement adequately. If these options prove too costly, add light by placing lamps around the basement.

© Demand Media 2011