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Finish Your Basement: 9 Important Things to Not Overlook

Do you know how to finish your basement? I have some amazing tips for you.

If you’ve read any of the articles I’ve written on this website, you already know that it was a dream of mine to live in a house in a small neighborhood where everyone knows everyone.

I come from a small town, and I lived in an apartment for almost all my life until my husband and I had enough resources to buy a house for our family.

We moved into a house that had plenty of natural light, a gorgeous backyard, a nice porch, a fabulous balcony, and a spacious basement. When my sister visited us, the first thing she said was, “You have to finish your basement, because you’re wasting this precious space,” and she was right.

It took me a while to arrange that space I had, and I turned it into a cozy living area where we could all relax, watch a movie, or maybe workout because we have a couple of free weights and a treadmill there, so it’s a fantastic area.

If you want to finish your basement too and maybe turn it into a home theater, a playroom for your kids or grandchildren, a craft room, a small gym, a guest room, or an additional living room, I have some tips for you.

What’s great about this project is that besides developing your home’s functional square feet, a lovely finished basement can also boost your property’s value, which is amazing if you want to sell. So without further ado, here are my best tips for you to finish your basement.

finish your basement
Photo by Sheila Say from

1. Safety first

Regardless of what you want to turn your extra space into, safety always comes first, so don’t neglect this step. After you have an inspector come and sign off on the project, you can create gorgeous and safe access to your area with some pretty stair handrails.

Moreover, you could also beef up the walls that support the handrails and keep them in place, so nobody gets hurt trying to go into the new underground room. To finish your basement, make sure you also add some lights on the staircase, so everything is nice and safe.

2. Add light

Besides adding lighting fixtures, you can finish your basement by planning for as many windows as possible to allow natural light to enter your gorgeous space.

Don’t forget to cut your openings before you begin the renovating process, and make sure you seal off the rest of your house so that there won’t be any masonry dust.

As I’ve previously said, safety should always come first, so have a building professional come by and make sure that the surrounding walls can take on the increased structural load. When you’re done with that, you can then proceed to create new doors or windows.

3. Flooring option

Regardless of how much you might like a particular type of flooring, you should know that not all of them can or should be used to finish your basement. For instance, while solid wood looks stunning, the tinniest fluctuations in moisture levels could cause splitting and buckling, and that’s not nice.

Other options that look good and aren’t that problematic can be ceramic tile, vinyl planks, and engineered wood flooring. Think of the purpose you want that room to serve and what furniture pieces and gadgets you want to add there, and it will be easier to choose the right flooring option for you.

4. Heating capabilities

Your home’s ventilating, heating, and air-conditioning systems might’ve been installed according to the requirements of your upper levels. Things might be different for your basement, so it’s best to call an HVAC contractor to check if you have the right equipment for your new area.

finish your basement
Photo by Artazum from

5. Escape route

One of the most important things you have to consider when you want to finish your basement is adding an escape route. Depending on your local building codes, you might need egress windows for your basement room to be considered a bedroom.

In other cases, you might also need an enclosed closet. If you go egress window shopping, keep in mind that they need to be large enough to fit a firefighter in full gear to quickly get into a burning house and save the members of the household in case the stairs are blocked by fire. Another egress option you can go for is to add hinged outside access doors, so do what’s best for you.

6. Don’t neglect ventilation

Adding a dehumidifier to your basement won’t fix your moisture issues, but it can rather dray water through the foundation walls. To prevent a potential moisture problem, make sure you have good drainage off your roof and away from your foundation, provide the right ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms to the outside, and don’t open your windows too much during those terrible humid months.

Besides breathable insulation, you can install a vapor retardant between your interior stud walls and floors, as well as between your floor slabs and foundation walls, so that everything is under control.

Whatever you want to transform your basement into, don’t forget to make it look pretty too, because that’s going to make you happy when spending time in there. This means that decor items are your best friends, so if you’re looking for the perfect item to finish your basement, here’s what I recommend: fairy lights.

7. Rein in radon

Make sure that before you finish your basement, you talk to a professional and get a radon test done. Radon is an odorless radioactive gas that enters basements from surrounding oils, and it could cause trouble in the long run.

If you don’t check it at the right time, you risk exposing yourself and your loved ones to 200 chest X-rays every year, and that can be dangerous. You can either contact a certified radon contractor or use charcoal-based collectors to test for it.

You can also check if your neighborhood utility provider can provide you with a radio test. You can install ventilators or caulking surfaces to reduce the levels of radon.

finish your basement
Photo by Neil Podoll from

8. Ceiling finish

Another thing that will help you finish your basement and make it look lovely is a gorgeous ceiling. Thanks to the fact that drop ceiling tiles can be easily moved to access electrical or plumbing connections if needed, they’re a great choice to finish your basement.

If you’re not into that, you can go for drywall ceilings, but keep in mind that ceiling textures can easily flake off. Regardless of the style you want to choose, don’t forget that the highest level of your basement ceiling is the same height as the lowest hanging pipe, duct, or wire.

9. Good investment

As I’ve already said at the beginning of this article, if you’re not sure whether you want to finish your basement or not, think about the fact that while this can be a costly activity, it can be a pretty good investment.

According to experts, the general return on investment for a basement project is around 75 cents on the dollar. But besides those major financial giants, when you finish your basement, you feel like you have more space because you can turn that area into an additional bedroom for your guests, a huge closet where you could store plenty of things, a home cinema, a gym, a studio, and everything you want.

So, what do you say? Would you like to finish your basement? If you have any other tips for us or even article requests, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

If you find this article helpful and you’d love to read something else from The American House, here’s another lovely post for you to check out: 13 Christmas Lighting Ideas That Work Like a Charm


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