Does your home have a basement that’s going unused because it’s damp and smelly? Is your basement floor often too wet to feel good about putting down nice carpeting over a thick pad? It’s definitely possible to transform your basement into a clean, dry, fully usable, carpeted and inviting space — if that makeover is done the right way, as a two-phase project.
Too much humidity or moisture in your basement can cause the walls to sweat, show visible mold, or even “weep” (water runs down the walls) after it rains. For humid and smelly basements, the recommended “solution” is often to run several dehumidifiers. That’s ineffective and noisy, and the electricity required is expensive.
Properly waterproofing the walls requires more than simply sealing wall cracks and painting the walls with a waterproof paint. Basement windows may need to be repaired, replaced or installed, to provide adequate ventilation so humid air can escape and fresh air can come in. And your home must be properly weatherproofed: Gutters, downspouts and landscaping around your home must make rain and melted snow and ice drain away from your home’s foundation so that moisture can’t leak back in through the basement walls.
If your basement floor floods after it rains, or you don’t want to risk flooding if your washing machine or water heater malfunctions, a french drain and a sump pump will effectively keep water off the floor and also pump the water outside.
After the floor and walls have been properly waterproofed and the french drain has fully cured, the basement’s concrete floor must be thoroughly cleaned, using basic soap and water. (No harsh chemicals are needed. “Green” solutions work.) Remove all the dirt and residue by hosing down the floor with the spray nozzle at full volume. The slop will flow into the french drain, and the sump pump will push it outside. When the floor is thoroughly cleaned and dry, hand-paint the floor using a high-gloss enamel sealing paint. That type of floor paint will stick and shine for a very long time. It will also reduce the humidity that could come up through the floor.
Now, you get to enjoy and feel confident about finishing the walls with drywall and/or installing wall-to-wall carpeting over a nice thick pad! The carpeted basement floor will no longer be the coldest spot in your house. Now, it will provide insulation and warmth in the winter, acoustic soundproofing, and a comfortable playing area for the kids. Your home’s air-conditioning system will manage the basement’s summer humidity, and all occupants in your home will benefit from the basement’s clean, non-humid air and energy-efficient functionality.