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Finishing a Basement on Budget

thegiz | Posted in General Questions on

Hope everyone is doing well, looking for a cheap way to partially finish a basement.  I know best case scenario would be insulating everything and putting up Sheetrock but I’m not ready to take on that project.  I’m in climate zone 5, unfinished basement is cool in summer, area I’m lookin to use is about 16×22.  Here is my plan just to make space more useable.

1. rubber tile flooring- the stuff they use for gym areas.  I’m going to have some workout equipment and I have young toddlers.  I figure floor would be softer and I can easily replace any tiles or take up floor.  I’m going to put this right over concrete?  Should I use any underlayment?

2. My concrete walls are just ugly looking in spots, picture attached. Is there a product I can easily patch any wonky areas and then safely paint it?  What would I use?

3. Add 2 interior doors to separate 16×22 area. In dead of winter I have an infrared heater I can use to heat up space if I’m down there.

Plan on finishing area in future but trying to save for other projects I’m working on.  Does this sound like it will be a waste of money or will make space more comfortable?


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  1. GBA Editor
    Kiley Jacques | | #1

    Hi Joe,

    No matter the level of finish you are going for, you'll want to get a number of key details right to head off future headaches. Here is a link that will lead you to a free 20-page PDF download laying out some fundamentals. It was written by Fine Homebuilding authors Steve Baczek, Emanuel Silva, and Andy Engel:
    Make More of Basement Remodels

  2. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #2

    Those rubber tiles work fine over concrete. I frequently spec them in telecom facility common areas where they get glued right to concrete. I’ve never had a problem with them. The downside is they don’t really offer any insulating value, and if you have any issues with condensation you’ll have a damp floor. Using the textured type surface helps keep things from getting slippery. There is also a pattern of raised round spots but I don’t like how that one looks. I’d advise against the smooth surface type.

    You can use patching cement on the walls if you’re careful. Anything that says it’s “self leveling” isn’t going to work on the walls. You could use dow Thermax (or the Johns manville equivalent) on the walls, but it’s not cheap. A cheap solution might be a layer of reclaimed polyiso followed by a layer of sanded plywood and a thick paint (like blockfill paint) to give a smooth finished surface. Insulating the walls will help a lot with comfort.


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