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Basement wall- any alternative to using drywall

thegiz | Posted in General Questions on

I’m framing my basement walls, using the advice on this site in terms of insulation and framing.  Never hung drywall before, would rather not have to mud and tape.  Is there any material I can use directly attaching to studs besides drywall?  I would like to use wood paneling, or t1-11 on walls but is this bad for mold?  Is there any plastic or other option that I can attach without requiring mudding and tape?  Thanks for anyone’s help in advance.

-Joe DIYer

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  1. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #1

    Do you need to have fire-proofing? If you used flammable insulation it has to be covered. Drywall is popular because it is cheap and fireproof. I believe that 3/4" wood is also acceptable.

    I would say drywall is more susceptible to mold than paneling.

    If you want superior moisture resistance you may want to look at Zip board or Advantech.

    1. thegiz | | #3

      So 3/4 wood is fireproof? Can zip board or Advantech be used as a final wall covering? Can it be painted and look like a finished surface?

  2. Expert Member

    What's it going to be down there? If it's finished space you are after, not just a shop or storage, I'm not sure it makes sense to use anything other than drywall.

    1. thegiz | | #4

      I'm making a playroom/bedroom. Why is wood so unpopular these days? There isn't a wood panel they make that can be used as a finishing surface. I suppose I could just use drywall green board and either hire someone or attempt mudding and taping myself. Just trying to find a better alternative that is more DIY friendly.

      1. Expert Member
        MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #6

        It's partly fashion and partly practicality.

        Some of us are old enough to remember basements finished with wood panelling, and associate them with the Brady Bunch era aesthetics.

        Practically, unlike drywall, wood panels have no easy way to deal with joints and corners. You can spend an awfully long time scribing sheets to get a tight fit, and still end up with something that looks DIY. Over time the panels then take on all the evidence of living - holes for shelves and pictures, scuffs, etc, with no way of renewing them short of replacement.

  3. jberks | | #5

    I think you should address your moisture issue first. If you don't, pretty much anything you put up will mold including the studs.

    I personally hate drywall, so I hear you.

    Wood is popular with designers, but wood is quite more expensive than drywall which is why it's not popular with normal homes.

    Drywall is essentially your cheapest option, even including hiring someone for mudding, depending on your sqft. For instance, in my parts drywall costs $10/sheet and prefinished plywood is around $80/sheet. Even the cheapest (thinnest) slotted wood boards like pine beaded wainscoting works out to $65 for the equivalent sqft of a sheet.

    In other words, probably not worth the money using anything else than drywall if you want an ok looking bedroom. Learning to mud isn't that hard. Sure it takes practice to be fantastic at it, but if you're ok with the look of sheets of zip for an Interior, what you could achieve with an hour of watching YouTube and mudding (and lots of sanding) yourself will look much better.

    1. Andrew_C | | #7

      I understand your reticence about mudding drywall. If you choose to DIY after watching a number of videos, one way to make it look better when you're done is to use matte finish paint and a thick roller sleeve to get a more textured look. Matte finishes cover up a lot of visual defects that shiny paints reveal.

      P.S. Amateur drywallers have to sand a lot more than experienced pros. When you get out your shop vac to clean up, MAKE SURE THE FINE FILTERS ARE IN PLACE, ie that it's not currently set up as a wet vac. You're spread drywall dust EVERYWHERE if you don't. Ask me how I know.

  4. Expert Member
    Akos | | #8

    I finished my wife's studio with t&g plywood. With one side sanded, it was a bit more than regular plywood. This was just whitewashed for final finish.

    If you fill the screw holes, it can be a decent finish, never as smooth as drywall but it can take way more abuse. The joins will always be visible unless you put some trim over them.

    Having done both drywall/mud and plywood, I would say the plywood is much more work to get it nice.

  5. seabornman | | #9

    If you don't mind the look, FRP would work. The kids would have a hard time destroying it. It might qualify as a vapor barrier though.

  6. thegiz | | #10

    Thanks for all the advice I’m getting. From what I gathered, the drywall might be a pain but is actually more DIY friendly since I can have more opportunities to cover up mistakes. Def going to use a matte finish as Andrew said to help cover defects. Still surprised they don’t have some kind of paneling system that you can simply click pieces of wall together. Might try wood paneling for ceiling though, never crazy about the look of drywall ceiling or drop grid system. Planing on an industrial ceiling for now and painting exposed beams

    1. gary__b | | #12

      I was in a similar situation recently. My plan was to hang drywall (the easy part), but then install battens on all the seams (crown moulding at the joint with ceiling). Then install purely decorative battens to finish the look of the wall. This would have worked because the ceiling height was less than 8 ft (as I'm sure it is for you), so I could simply run 2 courses of drywall horizontally, and I'd just have one horizontal seam at 4' off the ground (a good height aesthetically) to batten over.

      In the end, I just did the mud/tape. It really isnt' that hard. And you're talking about a basement room, perfection probably isn't needed (as it wasn't for me). But I definitely thinkt he fauz board and batten look could be neat.

  7. FluxCapacitor | | #11

    I used 1/2” Magnesium oxide sheetrock (MGO) to finish part of my basement.

    Magnesium oxide is virtually water, mold and fire proof. It’s hard to find at supply houses and I had to pay $25 per 4x8.

    Unlike traditional sheetrock it has very hard and crisp edges with no tapered edge. The lack of taper makes the gaps between sheets very tight when butted together (under 1/32”). I squeezed a little paintable silicone in the gaps and painted over. It’s been two years and no cracks.

    For my above ground living areas I probably wouldn’t be satisfied with the slightly visible thin lines between the MGO sheets but it works for me in the basement playroom, office and laundry area.

    As always, check with your local code official to make sure they would be ok with this approach or any other method/material.

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