Basement Wall Insulation

 

There are a few things you need to know and understand when it comes to basement wall insulation. The different types and methods will make your installation a failure if you lack the knowledge. So let’s take a look at the right way to get the job done so you’ll have a successful renovation.

 

Basement Wall Insulation

 

basement wall insulation

With the basement wall insulation, we are going to look at a few different steps that will take you from the beginning to the finished part of the exterior wall. Typically you would see the framing, electrical and plumbing before going into the insulation stage. The problem with doing the steps in that order is concrete walls or cinder blocks can not be treated in the same procedures as the main floor or second storey of a regular home. If you put batt insulation directly against concrete etc. the batts will absorb moisture that gets transferred between the cold surface of the concrete and insulation. This action will cause the pink batts to start producing a black mold growth inside the walls.

The problem with doing the steps in that order is concrete walls or cinder blocks can not be treated in the same procedures as the main floor or second storey of a regular home. If you put batt insulation directly against concrete etc. the batts will absorb moisture that gets transferred between the cold surface of the concrete and insulation. This action will cause the pink batts to start producing a black mold growth inside the walls.

To make sure this will not be a problem, you need to install a foam barrier between the concrete wall and the stud framing. The thickness you choose to use is entirely up to you just so long as the wood framing and pink batts do not come in contact creating future problems of rot and mold growth. You can take a few options on how you would like to do the insulation.

  1. You can insulate your perimeter with a thicker and denser foam product to the desired R factor and vapour barrier the wall and to be done with the basement wall insulation. Once that is done, you could have your framing done as per normal the same as partition walls and run any electrical, plumbing, etc. through them with no more concerns for insulating. Also, when you do this method, you can also incorporate a foil just before the framed wall to reflect the winters heat your paying for to minimize heat loss.
  2. The second method would be to line your concrete walls with foam as before then after the framing is done, add all electrical plumbing, etc. then insulate with the batts. When you have all the batts of insulation in place, you would then vapour barrier the walls and your now done the basement wall insulation for this method.

Now there are other approaches and variations to each and every method on how creative you can get by going green as well as how energy efficient you can get. Depending on your talents for doing home renovations and the budget you have to work with you could get quite creative with your imagination on what and how you would like to do your basement.

The video below is an excellent depiction of the second method that I have just mentioned that is affordable and widely done for most home renovation how to projects.

 

 

For the ones that understand and see the importance of a foil wrap for blocking the escaping heat, there are a few methods to incorporate the foil in the second method.

  1. If you’re using a 2×6 framed wall, you can install the foam, then have a perforated foil against the foam. Instead of using R20 pink batts for the second stage of insulation, use an R15 that is usually used for 2×4 construction to create an air pocket between the foil and batt insulation. For every inch of air pocket with foil is the same as 1-inch of regular pink batt insulation. This way the wall still has the same R-value, but foil will reflect 97% of the heat wave. It will cost less to heat with the foil in place.For those who truly understand the principles of foil, vapour barrier the foam, use perforated foil and skip the R15 batts and gyprock the walls. (If where you live, the codes allow it, you can just use the unperforated foil as your vapour barrier and carry on.)
  2. Do as they mention in the video for all the steps then add the foil as a vapour barrier if codes permit or add a perforated foil over the vapour barrier. Once you have that in place, your ready for a second wall which will handle all the wires, plumbing, etc. that you may require before drywalling. This method will cost more but is much easier than sealing a vapour barrier around all the electrical plugs, receptacles, etc. if they are behind the vapour barrier.

 

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6 Comments:

  1. I found your post very interesting. In Australia very few houses have basements but they do seem to be the norm in the USA. I can see where dampness would be problem in most places and insulating the walls against this is common sense. I was surprised that people used pink bats as to me they are insulation not protection against dampness. Plastic seems a much more logical way to prevent dampness. Is dampness a problem in all basements?

    • Depending on the design of the home and the air flow control, you can have dry basements that work out great.

      The problem is most basements and especially older ones that were updated from their previous function, were never designed to be lived in. When people try to use the space for living in, then extra precautions need to be taken to have a proper renovation take place.

  2. The overall aesthetic look of your website really fits the theme. I like that you have the video attached it really breaks up the content. Which there is a lot of. Do you have any videos that talk out the process. I only ask becuase I am a see it first hand type of person. Although I love to read I would like to see the project being done so I know that what I am doing is in line with the instructions. I may have a vision of what it looks like in my head because of what I am reading but it may look differently once I am doing or done with it. Does that make sense? It doesn’t have to be one fluid video it can be broken up into smaller sections that “spoon feed” as you go. In any case the site is well put together and professional. Very clean with a nice dyi rhythm. This is going to really come in handy once my husband and I move to. He’s a dyi type of guy.

    • There are two ways to get what you are asking for; one is my monthly newsletter has hundreds of free DIY videos that take you through the steps as you had mentioned you would like to see.

      The second is more in depth and will teach you everything you’ll need to know about all the trades and what is required without having to wait as I keep organizing the free DIY videos and that is to take the course I offer.

      What you’ll end up learning from the courses can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars when doing renovations once you understand what needs to be done and how.

  3. With your basements do you have much seepage from moisture through the wall to the extent you need to put in sump pumps. Wherever you build underground would it not be better to water proof the outside of the wall with a membrane or bitumen product then you would only have to worry about r rating insulation for the cold. I understand this would be near impossible for renos but with new builds it would keep all damp out of the walls, cheers Jamie

    • Travis Smithers

      Hi Jamie, where I live we do both methods. All our foundations are waterproofed on the outside before backfilling around them. We will have full drainage systems placed around the entire home to help keep the water away.

      Even with all that being said, for our area, the moisture content still needs to be controlled on the inner basement walls as well. So just the fact that concrete or concrete blocks are pores, it is always best to waterproof before insulating. It is also best to insulate with products that water has no effect on as much as possible like foam paneling for instance.

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