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Preparing Cement or Basement Walls For Sheetrock or Paneling

TOOLS: Measuring tape, hammer drill, cordless drill, 5/32” carbide masonry bit, 3/16” 3 inch masonry screws , level, shims

MATERIALS: Treated pine 2 x4’s for perimeter of floor, 2x2’s for stud framing, 4x8 foam insulation panels, construction adhesive, electrical wiring as needed.

You can attach sheetrock or paneling to your cement walls (block or poured), but to do so you must erect a wood frame to mount on. This is a tiresome job, and involves lots of drilling, but it can be done. Before you begin, fix any leaks in your walls or you will have problems with mold and mildew. The leaks should be fixed from the outside by digging around the wall and sealing any cracks.

Check with your city building codes to see if you need a permit. Plan out exactly how much lumber and insulation you will need to avoid trips to the lumber yard.

1. Run a treated 2x4 end up (so it is 2” deep against the wall) about Ό inch off the basement floor around the entire perimeter. This will keep water from seeping up the wall should you have any unexpected leaks. Check to make sure the walls are level and square. Use shims to square up any imperfections.

2. You will have to drill into the cement wall with a pilot hole first, then nail or screw the 2x4 to the wall. Drill the pilot hole using a hammer drill with a 5/32 inch carbide masonry bit. You can rent a hammer drill if you don’t have one. The pilot holes should be about 16 to 20” apart. Note: They do make special guns to shoot into the cement, but they require special training.

3. Drill 3 inch masonry screws into the pilot holes on the 2x4 to attach it to the wall.

4. Attach 2x2’s to the top of the wall using the same method as the 2x4 along the floor. These boards may go up against the ceiling. Frame out any windows.

5. Plan out your 2x2 studs, starting in a corner and placing them 16” on center. (The middle of one 2x2 to the middle of the next 2x2 is exactly 16”) Check each stud to make sure it is level and plumb. If the stud is not level, use shims to level it out. Drill pilot holes and attach the studs with screws.

6. If you plan on any wiring, now is the time to run wire and install outlets. This step may require an electrician.

7. Your next step is to cut the 4x8 insulation to fit between the 2x2 studs. Using an S pattern, use construction adhesive to glue the sections to the walls. TIP: Insulation panels come in Ό”, ½” Ύ”, 1”, 1 ½”, etc. The R value of ½” insulation is R3. Ύ” insulation goes up to R4, and 1” insulation is R4 ½ to R5, but the cost rises substantially. You can decide if the cost of an extra ½” of insulation is worth the R value to you. The insulation must be flush or less than flush to the studs, never overlapping them.

8. You are now ready to panel or sheetrock. Remember when hanging your sheetrock that this is a basement and there may be moisture. Hang your sheetrock or paneling ½” off the floor. You may cover the gap with trim.


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