Waterproof Your Basement First, Finish It Second
An unfinished basement with bare concrete for the walls and floor and rough wooden shelves may be fine for storage, but it’s not exactly the best place to hang out and enjoy a spare afternoon. “Finishing” your basement means adding things like carpets, drywall, real light fixtures, and other amenities that turn what started as a large storage space into a true second or third floor. A finished basement can add several more rooms to your house, including bedrooms and bathrooms, and it can significantly improve the home’s property value.
However, it’s also important to do things in the right order. If bare concrete walls have one advantage, it’s the fact that they’re easy to access. If there’s a crack or a leak in the wall, it’s easy to spot and easy to repair. To do the same thing with a finished basement wall, you first need to locate the crack by drilling holes in the drywall, and then you have to pull off the panels, tear out the insulation, and remove the wooden frame. Only then can you repair the crack and finish off by reinstalling everything.
Fortunately, 90 percent of waterproofing is prevention, which means there’s plenty you can and should do before finishing the basement walls. In fact, most of it happened during your home’s construction, but you may still be able to make a few improvements. For instance, you should make sure your home’s gutter system is working properly and moving water far away from the sides of your house, and you should check to make sure the ground slopes gently (or steeply) away from the walls. The window wells shouldn’t be clogged with leaves or other organic debris, either.
The steps you can take inside your basement aren’t as important, but they can still help. For instance, a few layers of waterproof paint can keep ambient ground moisture from affecting the basement interior, though it can’t stop cracks from forming or stand up to serious hydrostatic pressure. If you choose to insulate your basement, you should pick a material that’s both water- and mold-resistant.
If you happen to live in Maryland or a neighboring state, AA Action Waterproofing can provide you with professional waterproofing services or just professional advice on how to do the project yourself. Our business has almost 30 years of experience, and throughout that time we’ve become masters of waterproofing, mold remediation, foundation repair, crawlspace encapsulation, and more.